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Computer Coding: The New Literacy

Mar 03, 13 Computer Coding: The New Literacy

I saw the most awesome video today. Code.org created a video to dispense about the importance and relevance of computer coding. According to a CNN blog, Code.org is a website started by the Partovi brothers. These two have been involved in coding and supporting coders since the early days of the Commodore 64 computer. Their experiences led to a life of computer science.

In their video, big coding and technology names like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerburg, and myriad others laud the necessity for more coding classes in high schools and colleges.

Why is that, you ask? Well, because only nine states in the U.S. offer computer science courses where they count toward graduation: Georgia, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, and Virginia. The 41 other states in the union do not offer required credit for computer science programming and coding classes as U.S. News reported.

I was pleasantly pleased to see Oklahoma on the list of states that do allow computer science classes to satisfy core math or science requirements. This means that my little, rural state recognizes the changing job market and economy. Well, at least it means that Oklahoma sees the value of computer classes.

As further support for Code.org’s video, the Huffington Post Tech page explained the benefits of coding:

  1. It accelerates child development:
  2. It stimulates creativity and builds confidence, especially for girls; and
  3. It unlocks the best careers in America, with the potential to lift up an entire generation of American youth regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic background.

Those three reasons definitely inspire me to want to learn to code. Like most people, I am afraid of coding. That fear is the biggest obstacle for coding. The Huffington Post further supports this idea: “Most of us never learned computer programming in school; we don’t know how to teach it, and we assume it’s only for the geniuses. We don’t realize that fifth-grade girls are learning to code in low-income public schools, or that iPad apps can teach the basics to a kindergartener.”

I do not like the veiled sexist implication that if fifth-grade girls can do it anyone can, but I like the explanation that coding is not just for geniuses. Anyone can learn to code, and everyone should learn to code. Any activity that stimulates creativity is an activity I want to take part in. We often neglect creativity, but so much good comes from the creative acts. Coding is just another example of that.

If people have a better understanding about computers and coding, then they too can create the next big technological phenomenon. If Mark Zuckerburg can develop Facebook in his dorm room, so too can others create websites, social media, apps, and other coding functions. Computers are a part of our world, so more people should understand them. Coding classes—whether at a college or university, online, or via an app—will only help to improve our economy.

After all, some of the best jobs in terms of money, benefits, atmosphere, and creativity, are currently found in computer science. Huffington Post shows that if we continue to not push the importance of computer programming classes, by 2020 there will be 1,000,000 more jobs than students. One million! Those benefits are obvious.

Though I love my job as a prof and a writer, I think that I will learn to code if for no other reason than it looks fun. I will most definitely promote coding to others, too. One step at a time, one person at a time, we can help others experience the fun and creativity of coding.

Image Credit: Elnur / Shutterstock

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About 

Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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