Saturday, March 2, 2013

How Important is Programming in the 21st Century?

What Most Schools Don't Teach

I recently viewed this video on YouTube and it reminded me of the earlier days using technology in education and how important it was to learn coding and programming skills. The benefits of "coding" enhanced critical thinking and logical thinking skills, yet those skills only seemed to be a benefit for the students interested in computers. With the movement towards making software more user-friendly to end users, the idea of programming and coding was viewed as being unnecessary and a waste of time. Why develop programs when they already exist for you? With the introduction of ready-made packages that do the programming for you behind the scenes, end users could now move on to bigger and better things. A good example of this idea is evident in the various web page programs currently offered. Why sit and code with HTML when you can just create a web page in the "design" view using a WYSIWYG editor? 

When I taught my web design class several years ago, I would always start the school year with having students learn HTML code. They initially found it a bit tedious since they realized that what they coded had to be exact for their desired results. It was challenging, offered them critical thinking, problem solving, and troubleshooting skills. Later in the year, I would introduce them to Dreamweaver and to my surprise, found that most students would revert back to the HTML code to manipulate information and format on the page. 

In essence, Dreamweaver was easier for them, but didn't offer the control and flexibility of having them create the page on their own. They developed the skills to think beyond their task, and as a result were successful in producing a more innovative product. Learning how to code a page had brought my students to another level and the outcome was a true benefit to their overall learning experience. I was thrilled to view this video and hope it will spark interest for educators to take another look at how programming is used in a technology-related curriculum. Creating code is an important element of learning to meet the needs of 21st Century and as Steve Jobs stated, "it teaches you how to think".

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