The next generation will be even more connected and learning computer code should be considered as important in schools as numeracy and literacy.
Organizations are already worried about an ever-growing skills gap. Keeping up with technological innovation and advancing computer skills is vital for the digital economy to develop. The only way we can meet this challenge is by investing in young people, giving them the confidence, appetite and capabilities to interact and contribute to this new and exciting world.
Coding will unlock the future
Programming skills are set to be a core competency in the world our children are growing up in. Why? Because “software is eating the world” as venture capitalist Marc Andreesen so famously noted.
More and more of our lives are being run on software. Software-powered companies and disruptive start-ups are delivering us services we could previously only dream of, such as controlling smart homes remotely and downloading entertainment to our cars. Science fiction is fast becoming a reality with autonomous cars and drones delivering our parcels. Software is the language of the future.
Coding is now a basic literacy
Technology is already a big part of our children’s lives, and it is only going to get bigger. They understand how to consume technology, but they also need to be able to control and innovate. They are, after all, the digital inventors of the future.
Recently, I was coaching at an Orange #SuperCoders workshop, part of an initiative set up by Orange to introduce young children aged between 9 and 13 to computer coding. Designed to be fun, educational and intuitive, these free sessions in schools aren’t about creating computer whizz kids. They are aimed at making young people more aware of their digital surroundings and opening up their imaginations to what software has to offer.
Raising awareness of digital technology also has the potential to drive social inclusion, helping disadvantaged groups and remote rural communities, and bring gender equality.
Orange #SuperCoders started just two years ago. It is now in 17 countries and is run by Orange volunteer coaches and partner organizations.
Opening children’s minds to IT
Just as language opens up communication with other people, I have seen for myself how coding opens up the digital world for children.
I have seen how captivated children are using their new found skills to get Thymio the educational robot, developed by the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and the École Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne (écal), to perform and flash its lights.
The children I was coaching used Scratch, an open platform designed to introduce very young children to the principles and possibilities of computer coding. Designed by MIT in Boston, Scratch is made up of number of pre-coded tools the children can use to create their project. It helps them get started with coding, find new ways to solve problems and get their ideas across.
Understanding code helps explain our changing planet
It is essential that children start to learn the building blocks of programming at a young age. It is the ‘new literacy’ and will be key to their futures in interacting in a digital world. At the same time it is building bridges between ourselves, our children’s world and that of future generations.
More initiatives like #Supercoders need to be available in schools. At the same time, educational authorities should work to get programming on the curriculum for younger pupils. Children have creative and open minds and learn quickly - and coding will set them up for a future of exciting opportunities.
To read more about the Orange Supercoders# initiative and the free workshops designed to introduce children to coding click here