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HHH: Coding (Next week is Hour of Code Week!)

2018 November 28
by Henry Stokes

Logo for Henry's High-Tech Highlights

Hi there, Henry here!  Next week, December 3-9, is Hour of Code Week – the largest learning event in history – and one where libraries should be taking center stage. So it seemed appropriate to put this month’s high-tech highlight on:  Coding

 

Why should you care about coding?

Code.org reports that a whopping 93% of Texas parents want schools to offer computer science to their children.  And as there are 44,972 computing jobs open in the state of Texas (and over 500,000 across the country) in which the average salary is around $100,000, this should come as no surprise. And yet, the reality is that only 40% of Texas schools teach coding.

It’s not just today’s workforce. Coding will increasingly become integrated into all aspects of our lives, literally powering the future.  It’s behind every innovation and technology that I highlight: artificial intelligence (AI), robots, nanotech, VR, Internet of Things, etc.  I’ve  heard programming described as a kind of modern-day magic: a  special, behind-the-scenes language that can make things happen – almost like spells from a spell-book.  In the future, with coding becoming even more ubiquitous, kids will grow up knowing how to code and basically become wizards!  This was why I had to laugh when I saw a new Harry Potter coding kit from Kano that gives kids a chance to build their own magic wands to learn programming.

As Code.org, puts it: “Computer science is one of the few policy issues that can address both foundational education needs and workforce development demands for a state’s future workforce.”

Libraries with their focus on STEM/STEAM programming and maker spaces are the perfect space to offer programming about computer coding skills and address this state and national need, providing enormous value. To prevent the U.S. losing its competitive edge and falling behind on computer science, consider it your patriotic duty to introduce coding to your community, especially women and people of color.

If you are new to offering coding training at your library, the best place to get started is participating in Hour of Code. And I don’t just mean next week during the official annual event. You can provide HOC whenever you like, any time of year.

Logo for Hour of Code

What is it?

Hour of Code is a one-hour tutorial that the library provides to its patrons. No previous experience with coding is necessary for the teachers or learners.  Every step is spelled out and provided by Code.org. Just start here at this simple How-To Guide.

To get a sense of what it’s like (and how fun it is), try out this first puzzle yourself that helps you create a Dance Party.

Many Texas public libraries are offering Hour of Code events next week. Here’s a few:

And one last thing: IMLS recently awarded three Texas public libraries: Atlanta Public Library, Honey Grove Library and Learning Center, and Stamford Carnegie Library (out of a nation-wide total of only 50 small, rural library recipients) a Code Club grant, which provides the training, resources, and skills to teach coding at their libraries. Congratulations!

Logo for Code Club


 

UPDATE 11/29/18: Google and ALA just announced they are teaming up on coding for public libraries with Libraries Ready to Code!

Libraries Ready to Code logo

  1. Google will be bringing their Grow with Google in-person workshops for job seekers and small businesses, library staff trainings, and ongoing support to libraries in all 50 states.
  2. Google will provide a $1M sponsorship to the American Library Association, creating a pool of micro-funds that local libraries can access to bring digital skills training to their community.  An initial group of 250 libraries will receive funding to support coding activities during Computer Science Education Week. Keep an eye out for a call for applications from the ALA as Grow with Google comes to your state.

Fast Company and Fox Business posted about it so far:

 


Further reading:

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