Coding for the Masses – Striving to Improve Digital Literacy

Our concept of information literacy is evolving more and more rapidly as technology becomes ingrained in our everyday lives.  Schools and educators are realizing the importance of expanding an interest in computer science and coding to a wider audience and at an earlier age.  On January 24, 2014, the popular science podcast, ScienceFriday, ran an episode entitled “Is Coding the Language of the Digital Age?“.  The panel discussed ways that coding can be incorporated into our existing education system in order to close the gap for women and minorities.

The ability to code is becoming increasingly important in order to succeed professionally and to be able to creatively solve problems that affect all communities.  The logic and problem solving skills are becoming as relevant as the traditional sciences taught in the classroom.  A number of accessible resources were discussed:

Hour of Code

The Hour of Code campaign aims to demystify computer science for students across the country by taking them through introductory tutorials that can be completed online, on a smartphone, or even unplugged.

 Girl Develop It

Empowering women of diverse backgrounds from around the world to learn how to develop software.

Alongside these resources, libraries can use the Web Literacy Standard, developed by Mozilla, to create workshops to offer to the public to allow users of all ages to gain insight into the empowering world of coding.  For the self-learner, free online tutorials are offered through organizations such as Codecademy.

Libraries are already offering the public ways to improve their digital literacy.  The St. Paul Public Library developed the Northstar Digital Literacy Certificate.  This project “defines basic skills needed to perform tasks on computers and online.”

As more and more job applications and tests, such as the GED, move to a digital-only format,  information skills become vital.