Why Workplace Experts Argue Teaching Coding In Schools Is Vital

There's lots of debate going on about the value of teaching coding in schools in Australia right now, much of it not very well-informed. But if you ask workplace experts, the consensus is clear: we need more focus in education on this area.

picture from Shutterstock

I raised the topic of teaching coding in schools during a panel on the future of work hosted by job search site Indeed.com as part of Sydney's Vivid festival, and there was a clear consensus: this is an area that matters.

"Those skills are very important," said Geni Dechter, UNSW Business School macroeconomics professor. "They may not be crucial for everyone all the time, but it's something to build in. It's very important to integrate technology. Technology will be the universal skill."

"There's no doubt there's positive economic impact from building a population with software and engineering skills," said Paul D'Arcy, senior vice president for Indeed.com.

While the argument is sometimes made that it's too difficult to predict which languages or coding concepts would be the most useful, this is already a problem we have to grapple with. "One of the problems we have is we're hiring people to find solutions to problems we don't even know we have," said Zrinka Lovrencic, managing director for Great Place to Work Institute Australia.

Without those skills in place, we'll continue to be an economy that imports engineering expertise. D'arcy points out that Australian cities (and Sydney in particular) are already seen as highly desirable places to work, which makes them a sensible location for companies like Google to set up engineering outposts. "For Google, wherever there's a critical mass of engineers, they want to be there."


Comments

    Then teach one coding language. The one used in millitary technology.

    Teaching coding to kids has worked well for Romania. They're learning the basis of programming in year 9. At just about every major software company you will find Romanians.

    This Quora response is a good example:
    http://www.quora.com/Why-are-there-so-many-good-programmers-in-Romania

    Not just coding, but computational thinking is critical. A student could suck at learning code syntax, but knowing how to design the algorithms for a program's logic flow makes the difference between those who'll keep up vs. left behind.
    - You want your company to have a shared storage space? Sure, what sort of links, permissions and file limitations do you want that to have?
    - You want to connect with your customers? Sure, what are they need to know and what format do you want to tell them - regularly updated RSS, occasional video bulletins (limited by bandwidth) or a static app with occasional updates?
    - You want to create a health tracking device? Sure, what communication, storage and security protocols are you going to use?

    Computational thinking is required for almost everything now - and if it isn't, it will be soon.

    The argument about which language should we teach is a stupid argument.. Teach them what ever language that comes up.. Because it's not really about the language.. it's about the logical thinking... How to solve a complex problem, simply... Most languages are interchangeable you just need to relearn its syntax. Teaching coding is a very good idea and it doesn't send kids to work at age 11.

    Current:
    1- Get homework assignment.
    2- Do assignment.
    3- Submit for marking.
    4- Teacher marks [and hope results aren't biased ]
    5- Get result, minimal chance to learn from mistakes or resubmit.

    Code:
    1- Get code assignment.
    2- Write code.
    3- DEBUG until it WORKS. Learning as you go.
    4- Submit for marking
    4- Teacher checks, mostly looking for copying, variable names, etc.
    5- Get result. Greater chance of learning from mistakes during code session.

    Which is more "educational" while [potentially] reducing the workload on the teacher?

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