Has Coding Become a Basic, Essential Skill?

Susan Hall
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I'll admit I'm envious of the students who will be attending Seattle Public Schools' new Skills Center, where they can learning digital animation, game programming and even basic Cisco/Microsoft IT skills.


As I wrote back in January, there are more resources than ever to gain new skills even for adults, and it doesn't have to be expensive. Web producer and filmmaker Raymond Schillinger, in a piece at the Huffington Post, sees the many online coding courses, such as Codecademy, as a way to revolutionize education.


In a Forbes article, writer Kate Brodock poses an idea gaining traction: That coding is becoming a basic need-to-know set of skills for modern life.


It's an idea that popped up at SXSW. In a separate Huffpo piece, startup entrepreneurs Nate Westheimer and Vinicius Vacanti tell of their "sweat lodge experiences" as they attempted to learn enough code quickly to sell their ideas to investors. Pikimal CEO Eric Silver told me a similar story. Westheimer and Vacanti advocate setting aside a chunk of days to intensely cram to learn the code, rather than an hour or two here and there.


Brodock is working on an upcoming article about college students who are using their electives for computer science course and finding this helps them not only with other courses, internships and post-graduate work, but also in getting hired in fields such as communications and business management. She also heard Soraya Darabi, co-founder of Foodspotting, speak on the issue. Writes Brodock:

She feels business leaders need to be experts in digital technology, and strongly encourage digital literacy among their employees-embrace social media, be on the platforms, understand them and champion them.

At Entrepreneur.com, writer Colleen DeBaise noted that startup founders think investors want to see that they can code and she witnessed one presentation when a potential investor asked about that, yet she's still unsure that's where entrepreneurs should focus their energy. She writes:

Sure, you can teach an entrepreneur how to code. But can you teach a programmer to be an entrepreneur? That's a much trickier talent to learn. If you have to have one or the other, entrepreneurial abilities still seem far more valuable than fluency in HTML.

What do you think? Has coding become a basic necessary skill?

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