There’s a serious demand for coders and IT professionals today. A good developer is worth his or her weight in gold. My students are interested in gaming and creating apps, but not enough Rhode Island students graduated with a computer science degree last year to fill increasing demands. The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics states that computer programmers with a bachelor’s degree can expect to earn over $71,000, and software developers with a bachelor’s over $90,000. By comparison, entry-level pay for teachers with a bachelors’ is half as much.
Despite the attractive salary, there is still a shortage of qualified people in the field. There are several initiatives trying to change all this. One is the “Hour of Code,” conducted as a part of Computer Science Week, which is December 9-15 this year. The premise is this–everyone can learn about coding, not just CS professionals. Coding teaches valuable skills like logic, sequencing, math, dedication, design thinking, and so many other skills that it should be part of our curricula. Sadly, it’s not.
In Rhode Island, the Highlander Institute is trying to change this. The Highlander Institute is a non-profit organization that uses innovative methods to try to improve education for all students. One of its primary missions is increasing the use of productive technology, technology integration, and blended learning in all classrooms. Because coding is so important, the Institute is trying to spread the message and get teachers across the state to commit to the Hour of Code. The more teachers, students, and families that participate in this initiative, the more we will demystify coding and get students involved in excellent career paths that the nation needs. This shouldn’t just be an initiative in the “biggest little state in the Union.” It must be nationwide.
Most people feel that coding is inaccessible. It’s not. There are so many resources available that an average person who’s never seen code can learn the fundamentals. I started learning code for two reasons. First for my blog, because there is a lot I can do with it if I learn to code just a bit. But second, and more importantly, I see and beta test edtech apps and platforms. Sometimes I see something that needs to be tweaked. When giving feedback to entrepreneurs, it’s helpful to know if I asked them to do something very simple or if I just asked them to commit coding seppuku. I’m just an infant in this field, but little by little, I improve. It doesn’t only help me speak with real hard-core developers, it helps me connect with my students, a great number of whom are interested in this coding and game development.
Commit to exploring computer science, no matter what age group you teach. This week’s Learnist feature includes resources for the very young through to the adult level. Once you try coding and make your first simple creation, you’ll be hooked.
Even if you’re hesitant, promise yourself the “Hour of Code” at the very least. If you’re currently in the classroom, dedicate one hour to your students as well. Please comment–tell the world how it went, and if you’re hooked, too. We’d be interested to hear via Twitter as well. Tag us at @Edudemic, contact me @runningdmc, or comment directly on the Learnist boards or and by following @LearnistTweets. I’d love to continue the conversation on this all-important issue.
The Hour of Code Initiative is meant to get people thinking not only about code, but the direction our education system is going. What should we be teaching? Can we be offering more? This hour of code may make you think just a little bit about our priorities as a nation. But really, it’ll be a lot of fun.
This board collects Dr. David J. Malan’s Computer Science lectures from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. These were offered as Computer Science 50 through the Harvard Extension School. The Harvard Extension School is a gem, by which adults can continue their education affordably, getting access to Harvard’s libraries, resources, and professors. Many colleges across the nation have similar resources where adults can study, and in this case, learn the fundamentals of computer science from some of the best in the nation.
STEM is so important, yet we don’t have nearly enough people going into the field. Kimberly Bradley’s board brings together STEM and CS resources for elementary teachers who are planning to introduce it in their classrooms.
Alan Turing is considered the “Godfather of Coding.” He helped crack the Nazi’s “Enigma” coding machine for Britain, and advanced the field with his “Turing machine,” what many consider to be a “pre computer.” Learn about the history of coding with this short video learning.
You or your students can learn to code online. I’ve pointed my students to several of these resources, which can be done independently. Students are interested in many of these sites because they make coding fun and accessible, proving anyone can learn to code.
Computer clubs are a great way to get kids interested in computers beyond the classroom. Many of them seem so intuitive when it comes to advancing with technology. This board is dedicated to activities to support an elementary computer club. Hopefully, you have one going at your school.
A makerspace is any space where people can make things–such as libraries, community 3D printers artist lofts, tech schools, or open workspaces. These are becoming important to both schools and entrepreneurship communities, as they give people space and resources to tinker act on their ideas. “Makerspace” can be anything–from an art space a sewing machine–anywhere where creativity can shine through.
You might feel intimidated to start coding. This is another learnboard dedicated to beginning coding resources. You can do this. Start today!
Girls are not represented in the numbers they should be in STEM or computer science. I have a friend who hires coders, and I asked him once why he had no females. He replied that females didn’t apply, that they are rare in the field. This must change. It will, if we start introducing the material early and disengendering STEM. This board has a lot of great resources dedicated to girls in STEM.
There are many Udemy resources on Learnist, including several programming languages like Ruby and Java. This board is a good place to start. If you or your students are interested in web development, this is a great course with which to start.
NBA superstar Chris Boch codes. But should you? This board argues that everyone should learn how to code, and gives resources to prove it and to help you on your way. This board will be good for you, your students or your children.