Unit 3 – Question 2

Question 2: What other interesting examples of codes from history or the modern-day (digital or non-digital) can you find to inspire or support a lesson about encoding and decoding messages?

There is a large amount of sensitive information being saved on a local device and transmitted between devices today, including account passwords, and personal financial information.

To make it a safe and untraceable data, they have to encrypt it that it may take long time before anyone can actually gain the access to the information. Digital data is needed to be encoded and decoded for better online communication, online media.

Teachers could make students investigate the general ideas behind cryptography and introduce the idea of analysing of different kinds of encryption.


Teacher will introduce the concept of being secure online and how encryption might works. Students study the use of encoding and decoding via history events or modern situations.

There are some examples:

  • The Voynich manuscript

Link: The world’s most mysterious book – Stephen Bax


  • In 1912, Polish-born antiquarian bookseller Wilfrid Michael Voynich bought 30 books from a Jesuit college in Italy including a vellum codex dating from the 1400s that has since become known as the Voynich Manuscript.


  • Sherlock’s code


  • The messages show dancing men with arms and legs in differing positions and carrying flags.
  • Sherlock uses a technique called frequency analysis to decipher the message. In English, the most common letters used are E, T, A, O, I, N, S, H, R, D, and L and so an analysis of which stickmen are used most frequently can be used to decipher the message.
  • Homes realises one of the messages says ELSIE PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD and races to Norfolk.


  • One of the most popular type of codes in world war II is Enigma. It was a cipher device used by Nazi Germany’s military command to encode strategic messages before and during World War II. Messages typed into the machine were encrypted and then sent by Morse code. Being able to read encoded German and Japanese military and diplomatic communications was vitally important for victory in World War II, and it helped shorten the war considerably.
  • Cryptography

It is used to transmit information by changing the input to make it easier to be transferred to the receiver’s device. It decides how the messages will be shown.

Cicada 3301: An Internet Mystery



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