The Importance of Learning to Code

“I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.”
– Steve Jobs

In the January 2016 issue of OC Register Family Magazine, I wrote about “Learning to Code.” Below is a version of the piece that appears here. I do believe “coding” is one of the languages of the future. I remember when I had to learn BASIC when I was younger and it’s funny how that never ended up being useful on a practical level. It did, however, teach me the “basics” of programming language. I can’t code from scratch but I can tweak some HTML code if necessary. I believe it is important for our children to at least learn the logic behind programming. There are many ways both you and your children can learn to code.

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According to Code.org, Computer Science is America’s untapped opportunity. Just think, by the year 2020, there will be 1.4 million computing jobs and only 400,000 computer science students, who could possibly fill them. The job/student gap in computer science is startling. In an interview with OC Family, Karen Thurm Safran, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, iD Tech, told us: “This is a problem, especially since only one out of ten high schools offers computer science courses. Today’s kids simply aren’t prepared for the future. We live in a world surrounded by technology where learning to code is as vital as incorporating the basic 3Rs skills (reading, writing, and arithmetic). Coding will only become more prevalent and part of our society so it’s critical to teach students how to understand logic-based thinking.”

Right now, we are all consumers of technology, but how awesome would it be if we could become creators as well? Or if our children can become creators? Truth is, learning to code is important not just so we can create programs but at the very least, so we can understand them. Here’s what Raj Sidhu, Lead Instructor at the codeCampus Academy in Costa Mesa, told us: “Learning how to code isn’t just about making apps or games – it’s about learning how the world works, and how to use our logic to improve it. The world our kids are growing up in is increasingly driven by technology, and understanding how that technology works is as crucial to our children’s success as learning how to use math, critical reasoning, or chemistry. Not every child needs to grow up to be a programmer. But every child needs to be equipped with the skills to excel and innovate in whatever future they choose for themselves.”

Think of coding as another language that would be beneficial for our children to learn. You can sign your kids up for a free course online through sites like Code.org or Khan Academy or enroll in a class or camp.

Photo courtesy off iD Tech.

Photo courtesy off iD Tech.

Khan Academy
KhanAcademy.org offers instructional videos, practice exercises and other educational content on topics including history, math, science, economics, computer programming and more. Create an account for free. Parents and teachers, you can learn something for yourself or have your child or student log in.
The computer programming module provides introductions to languages like JavaScript, HTML/CSS, SQL and more. You will learn how to create drawings, animations, games, web pages etc.
To learn more and to get started, visit khanacademy.org and create a free account.

Code.org

Code.org is a non-profit organization dedicated to spreading the word on and access to computer science. Launched in 2013, code.org believes that computer science should be part of the core curriculum alongside biology or algebra, for example; and that “every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science.” The website and the courses are all free to use.
Click on the Code Studio section and find online courses created by Code.org There are 20 hour courses for computer science fundamentals for various age groups. For more information and to create a free account, visit code.org

codeCampus Academy
codeCampus Academy in Costa Mesa offers computer game design courses to students in second to eighth grades. Raj Sidhu of codeCampus Academy shared that they were offering more courses this year. “This spring, we are introducing courses on topics including mobile app development, hardware and electronics, and even robotics and artificial intelligence for our older students. Our goal is to make computer science as fun, engaging and inspiring for our students as possible, and to make them feel confident about coding as they move into high school and college.” By the way, Raj is also the creator of “Code Monkey Island,” a board game that introduces children as young as 6 to fundamental programming concepts.
Visit thecodecampus.com or call 714.606.2560 for more information

iD Tech
iD Tech offers summer day camps and overnight camps for kids (ages 6-12) and teens (ages 13-18), in distinguished campuses around the country, including Stanford, UCLA, Princeton and MIT. Each camp offers a stimulating course curriculum with a small cluster of 8 students per instructor.
iD Tech has programs in Orange County and Los Angeles County. At UC Irvine, the iD Programming Academy and iD Game Design and Development Academy are 2-week, teen, pre-college, immersive programs with courses ranging from C++ Programming, iPad & iPhone App Development with Swift & Xcode, Robotics Engineering & Coding, and more for iD Programming Academy and C++ Game Programming with Unreal Engine, Game Development for Oculus Rift and Unity etc. At University High School, they hold iD Tech Mini for aspiring young techies with courses on Junior Robotics, Master Minecraft Game Designer and Master Programmer among others. For more information and to find an iD Tech camp near you, visit idtech.com or call 1-888-709-8324.