Is Coding the New Literacy?

The Austin American-Statesman’s Omar Gallaga says anyone can learn to code.

By Rhonda Fanning February 20, 2015 1:42 pm

Learning how to write computer code may like an impossible task.

“There’s Python, there’s C++, there’s Javascript; Swift, which is Apple’s new programming language,” says the Statesman’s Omar Gallaga. “These are the building blocks for computer software for apps, for Facebook, for everything.” 

But it shouldn’t be that daunting, Gallaga says. And schools teaching coding – Austin Coding Academy and Makersquare, to name a couple – are popping up around town. “One of them promises that in nine months you will be ‘tech-ready’ for a career in coding,” Gallaga says.

There’s also academies specializing in encouraging women to code. “There’s Women Who Code, there’s Piladies – there’s all these groups supporting women who want to get in the tech industry.”

Schools around the world have started to note the importance of coding skills. Gallaga says.  England began incorporating coding into a national curriculum last year. Students as young as five years-old have started to learning coding, he notes.

“We think of coding as this very complex thing, but coding can be a very basic small thing that you learn little by little. … Five year-olds are not building Facebook right now. Its teaching them to pick up this language and once you learn it it makes it easier to pick up other kinds of programming languages.”

Coding doesn’t just teach you how to make apps. More essentially, it encourages critical thinking skills, which are especially important for children. And adults are pushing themselves as well.

“Even journalists like me are being encouraged to code, because it is about information,”Gallaga says. “It’s learning about how to organize and structure information and present it and incorporate that into a design – so for us in the news business, dealing with records and large amounts of data, it’s a very useful skill to have.”

This story was prepared with assistance by Rachel Phua.