In the 21st century, teaching the life skill of coding for computers and software has become of utmost importance. Students are exposed to how computers work every day, and the ability to work with code gets down to the youngest children.
Todays top tech entrepreneurs and CEOs got their start when they were children. designing simple games that required code. In doing so, they learned how technology works, and the bilding blocks for more complex ideas. With the rise in demand for educated workers to fill 21st century jobs, schools are now rising to meet the demand of preparing students for working with code.
“Code is how any technology works — from computers to phones, coffee pots, cars and electronics. Anything driven by a computer mechanism requires code,” says Andrea Ballina, a technology teacher at Bradley Beach Elementary School.
And as with Spanish, French, German or Italian, a growing number of K-through-12 districts in New Jersey are including the “language” of technology in their curriculum. It’s estimated that one in every 10 schools now offers classes in coding for students at all grade levels.
“Just like we use the principles of math or the words in world languages as building blocks for those studies, code is a form of communication,” says Marie Blistan, vice president of the New Jersey Education Association.
“Coding is its own language, not like anything else. It’s sort of like learning music and then applying it,” says Ballina, who introduced coding to her fifth-grade class for the first time during the 2013-14 academic year.
“There are so many great games and exercises out there today that make learning code fun for kids, and they can see the results of their work right on the screen,” she says. “I feel like this is the real meaning of and most effective way to teach logic — not in an abstract way, but rather making it happen right then.”