People tend to roll their eyes at the generation of young teens glued to their mobile phones. But that generation understands one thing more than any one of us: that technology is truly here to stay.
What is important now is to shift consumers of technology into creators of technology. Teens are starting to get this.
It’s why almost 100 students in the Greater Toronto Area gave up their snowy Saturday to learn how to code at BrainStation Academy’s Hack that Page event this past weekend. For this generation, learning to code will become less of a hobby and more of a necessity for the Canadian economy.
Instilling the importance of digital literacy begins at any age, and will put today’s students ahead of the curve when they begin their respective career paths. According to Business News Daily’s Top 10 Skills to have on a resume “having some basic coding chops under your belt will make you a much more attractive hire to perspective employers and may just be the differentiating factor that gets you hired.”
Big data is, and will continue to be driving business decisions. Many companies recognize this, but are unable to decipher how to make the data help them make improvements.
As Eric Schmidt, Google’s Executive Chairman notes, “Knowledge workers are the ones getting the raises, getting the jobs. There are shortages worldwide in all of these fields, so the education system needs to change to produce them.” Learning to code at a young age prepares students to be able to understand and analyze data, giving them the opportunity to add value to future employers.
Though today’s youth may be savvy on Instagram or navigating Google, Mitch Resnick addresses a gap in their technological understanding in his TED Talk, Let’s teach kids learn to code. “Young people today have lots of experience and lots of familiarity with interacting with new technologies, but a lot less so of creating with new technologies and expressing themselves with new technologies. It’s almost as if they can read but not write with new technologies.”
With this in mind, BrainStation Academy was born, offering Toronto high school students part-time weekend courses to teach the basics of coding. To celebrate, BrainStation hosted Hack That Page, where 100 students from across the GTA signed up to listen to speakers Monika Piotrowicz from Shopify and Vicki Laszlo from Twitter, network and build their very own web-resume from scratch.
“Even though students were tasked with coding the same web resume, students creativity took their pages in different directions. A SpongeBob resume applying to a burger joint, or a dream resume of who a student wanted to be in five years. It was creativity that you don’t see when you run the same event with adults,” notes Marc Pilon-Bignell of BrainStation Academy. “That’s why we love teaching code to youth. You give youth digital tools and they will always surprise you with what they make.”
Learning to code not only sets students up for career success, it also adds to their personal lives. Giving students the ability to build a personal website helps them take steps to build their personal brand; they can showcase their skills, experience, interests, and above all, ability to code.
For almost all of the students at Hack That Page, this was their very first time writing a line of code. And yet students were able to leave the workshop armed with a new skill and feeling of accomplishment.
The overall consensus? Students were keen to learn more.
— Zainab Jangda (@ZJangda) February 8, 2015
— Monika Piotrowicz (@monsika) February 7, 2015
Whether you’re a high school student, parent or educator, I urge you to address the important of digital literacy. BrainStation Academy is a great place to start – the Intro to Web Development course commences March 7 and runs every Saturday from 10am to 1pm for 12 weeks. Students can register here.
Ready, set, code!