Between AI, robotics, cyber security and self-driving cars, the job market has become flooded with tech jobs. In fact, in 2020, tech employment was made up of over 12 million workers, 10% of the nationwide economy. Are we preparing tomorrow’s workforce to snatch up these opportunities?
Most jobs involve some kind of knowledge of tech these days, so it’s no wonder that so many schools are asking the question of whether they should begin teaching children how to code. In fact, many K-12 schools have already started to include coding in their curriculum. To that end, curriculum designers now view coding as an academic equivalent to ELA composition.
Unfortunately, this new development isn’t quite nationwide yet, despite the demand for it. Many rural schools and schools in lower-income areas still have yet to include coding in their curriculum, whether for lack of resources or priority.
So how can schools incorporate coding into their curriculum? And is that the right way to go? Let’s take a look at why and how we should teach coding to kids.
The Benefits of Coding in the Classroom
In addition to offering a basic education in citizenship and social-emotional learning, one of the main purposes of K-12 schools is to give children the education they’ll need to one day enter the workforce. We teach math and science, which they might need for technical pursuits, as well as English and literature which could boost communication skills. Computer classes are nothing new, because computers are a part of most careers. But what about coding?
According to Nord Anglia Education, “Over the last two decades, coding and programming have emerged as some of the most desirable skills for employers.” In many careers, an understanding of code has become as important as reading comprehension or an understanding of mathematics. Even if your student doesn’t go into a career that requires coding, learning to code can teach other valuable essentials, such as:
- Problem-solving skills that enable tech experts to streamline tech for end-users.
- Self-discipline and perseverance that guide workers through inevitable troubleshooting.
- Creative thinking that leads to foundation-shifting end products.
- Better understanding of mathematics.
- Teamwork and collaboration that is required for just about all working environments, thought it’s especially pertinent in the tech world.
Three-Step Plan To Integrating Technology Curriculum
Introducing any new concept to the curriculum can feel daunting at times, and might be met with some anxiety from both students and admin. However, change is a necessary part of life, and with the right strategy, you can smoothly integrate coding and technology into your curriculum for the benefit of everyone. Edutopia recommends this three-step plan:
- Getting Students Grounded in Core Coding Concepts. You teach the alphabet before you assign books to children, and you teach addition and subtraction before moving on to multiplication and division. It’s the same with coding. Start with the basics like input and output, functions, and variables.
- Choosing the Right Tech Tools. The next step is to determine the means to teach coding to your students. There are several resources designed to teach coding to children, like the littleBits Code Kit. You can also craft your lesson plan around resources like Code.org’s curriculum and the resources from Scratch for Editors. You might find apps designed to teach children about code, as well.
- Using the Workshop Model. Consider treating your classes more like a workshop, as laid out in the Workshop Model by Carmen Farina and Lucy Calkins. Your students won’t all be able to code at the same level. It can help to teach shorter lessons and then break the class up into small groups where they can work on code as a team based on their particular skillsets.
Coding in the Rural Classroom
Although coding is becoming more and more common in the classroom, it is less common among rural schools. According to Fast Company: “While 58% of rural schools in the United States report teaching some type of computer science class, less than half of those teach coding.” Despite that, the Columbia Missourian reported that students who were exposed to coding in school seemed engaged and even excited about the subject, some hoping to become developers in the future.
Part of the problem is that a smaller population means a smaller tax base, which can mean fewer resources for the school. The sort of coding resources that might be afforded in a more metropolitan area might not be accessible in a rural area. As coding becomes more prominent in schools, however, programs such as the CODERS project with Missouri State University and the Coding at Every Library Project in North Dakota have made efforts to help rural schools receive the grants and resources necessary to teach coding to children. Hopefully one day, coding will become a common element in the classroom across the country.
Start Your Career in Software Development
Learn from instructors with years of industry experience, in a hands-on, project-based format so you can acquire practical skills you can apply immediately. Our flipped instruction approach ensures that your time in the classroom is valuable and that you can work on projects in a way that makes sense to you.View Details