Do you know about the Hour of Code movement? If not, this post is for you. If you do, and are a fan of it, what you find in the rest of this post might give you the call to action that helps grow the movement even further.
I don’t typically make absolute statements when it comes to engineering and careers, but I do believe that coding skills are essential for every person in our modern economy. Software is everywhere in our world now. And the tools of production and distribution are available to us all at very affordable (or free) prices. But to use them you need to know how to program them. Websites, mobile apps, 3-d printers, videos, podcasts, physics simulations…if you want to start even simpler, Microsoft Word and Excel have powerful capabilities that can be automated with macros (if you know how to do it). In one of my previous jobs I had to take a lot of wind tunnel data and manipulate it into usable information and a convenient format. So I learned and used visual basic to make a nice menu-driven tool with Excel and Access. It has pull-down menus, radio buttons, and a GO button to start the process.
This week is the annual and global HOUR OF CODE week. Students, kids, and people everywhere are encouraged to spend at least one hour doing some type of coding. Learn and connect with more here:
I know that the elementary school with my kids is participating. If you are a parent or grandparent with kids in school, ask them if they are doing anything special this week with coding. If you are a student, start some conversations about this. If you are a teacher or administrator, do the same. But EVERYBODY, if you haven’t seen this powerful TED talk yet with Mitch Resnick, WATCH THIS:
The need and skills for coding never end. As another example, to build this website you are reading and using right now, I learned WordPress and CSS coding. That was my coding project for November (and I’m still learning). I could have paid someone to do it but I wanted the challenge and skills myself. (How’d I do?! Go ahead and tell me in the comments. I can handle it…and I know about some details but haven’t figured out the coding for them yet.)
There is actually another movement in the US and some other countries to make computer coding count as a foreign language credit. True! Of course that is controversial, with many proponents of foreign languages pushing back against it. But I tell you this to emphasize how powerful and influential is the ability to code today. With YouTube, Vimeo, Khan Academy, and other free online resources you can start learning immediately. Or go to the hour of code website above and find a group or event near you.
One more example! When you know the principles of coding, it builds your confidence and adaptability to learn any code. So you can change your boring, static Powerpoint presentations into something animated. (Don’t go too far…and wait until this Friday’s post to get a hilarious lesson on that). Or make the simple but remarkable step into using Prezi. You will give your audience the WOW factor.
Software and embedded computing are integrating into everything around us. Even WITHIN us. There are pills you can swallow that are actually microcomputers, which send a signal to the doctor after they analyze your intestines. The trend is true in rocket science too. Don’t be left behind. Use the Hour of Code to promote this skill and make yourself better too.
Here on Edutopia is a long but excellent article about coding and the debate about whether it should be included as a language credit. Several coding resources and links for students there too.
Should Coding be the “New Foreign Language” Requirement?