Technology is constantly impacting and rapidly transforming the world around us. Think about this; by 2020 it is estimated there will be 6.1 billion smartphone users globally. This means the opportunities for innovation and job creation in the technology sector are likely to continue to swell as the digital revolution continues. It is imperative then to make sure future generations are prepared to enter a global digital workforce. One way to do this is to focus on computer science and coding.
Coding is using specific “computer languages” to write the software and apps we use every day, as well as create the websites we visit. A recent report from the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics indicates that IT jobs will grow 22 percent over the next five years. According to the United States Federal Government, there are about half a million unfilled job openings in IT fields such as software development. This report includes an estimated growth of 17 percent in software development. Unfortunately, K-12 students in the United States don’t learn coding in school. A recent Gallup poll by Google shows that only 1 in 4 schools in the US have coding programs for their students. The low numbers of qualified coders entering the workforce coupled with cheaper wages internationally means many of these jobs go to workers outside the US.
Fortunately, there are many programs that can introduce children to the world of coding. Tynker is a popular coding platform launched in 2013, by a team of developers, gamers and self-proclaimed “hackers,” and funded by a wide variety of investors. The aim of the platform is to make coding fun and accessible by replacing the complex syntax associated with coding with engaging activities. Students can sign up for Tynker powered classes at Sylvan Learning Centers everywhere.
Apple has made it easier than ever to begin learning their newest programming language Swift with the introduction of Swift Playgrounds for iPad. Swift Playgrounds brings Apple’s powerful programming language to its mobile platform, iOS, making coding easy, fun, and challenging. Users learn complex coding operations by completing challenges and advancing through the language. Swift Playgrounds can be downloaded for free from the App Store. Apple also offers free classes on Swift Playgrounds through its popular Camp Program at its retail stores around the world.
The most vocal and well known proponent of coding for students is the non-profit organization Code.org. Launched in 2013, Code’s vision is that “every student in every school have the opportunity to learn computer science.” They do this by providing online tutorials for students, tools for schools, teachers, and organizations to provide local coding courses through their popular Hour Of Code program every year. Hour Of Code is a worldwide program that any organization can host. Schools, churches, and even giant corporations like Microsoft, Google, and Apple have hosted Hour of Code sessions that have reached over 100 million students all over the world. Code utilizes popular franchises like Star Wars, Disney’s Frozen, and Minecraft to make coding relatable to today’s youth. You can learn more about this movement, including a “how-to” teach your own Hour of Code here.
Computer science and coding are an important part of our growing global digital landscape. Steve Jobs once said, “Everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.” Arming the students of today with the skills to compete in this changing landscape can ensure they have access to modern, high-paying jobs in the future. Organizations like Tynker and Code make it easy to introduce kids to coding and help build a foundation for success in computer science.