How to Have a Conversation about Coding
Because coding is a new and abstract topic to many, it is vital to contextualize your talking points. Library staff should construct multiple communication strategies to respond to a range of questions, concerns, and curiosity about coding. Questions might come from anyone--library co-workers and directors, community and library boards, local businesses, school educators, parents, and individual adults, teens, and youth. Like any act of persuasion, understanding the position of the person you are talking to is the most critical element to constructing a conversation. The talking points below can help you in a range of conversations.
- Every electronic device in your home, including your phone, television, even your microwave, is made possible because a person wrote code, which is like a computer language, to make your device work.
- Coding is not that difficult to understand, and learn how to write. In a similar way that you learned how to read, you can learn how to read in computer code, which is the language that computers use. This is why coding is considered a "digital literacy."
- Coding is essentially a language of problem solving. Thinking like a computer, or "computational thinking", is a key concept of coding. The ability to trouble-shoot, be creative, and work with others are valuable life skills for everyone.
- Knowing that code exists, and even how it is written, allows you to look inside the technology you use every day. You can begin to create your own code which allows you to program computer games, robots, websites, or apps.
Why Are You Offering Coding at the Public Library?
- The library’s mission statement promotes that free access to ideas make our communities stronger. We already do this through our print and audio/visual resources, our programs, and by providing access to computer for the public.
- Understanding coding is not a skill that is reserved for only some people that we will never meet. Anyone can learn how to write computer code.
- Just as learning how to read allows anyone to learn whatever they are curious about, learning how computer code works allows you to understand how technology that encompasses so much of our lives is written, and it even allows you to create technology to fill needs that you see in our world.
- Learning how to work with computer code allows anyone, children to adults, to learn a job skill that will be greatly needed. By 2020, there will be 1.4 million jobs related to understanding computer code, and American workers will not have enough experience to fill these jobs.
- There are serious racial and gender gaps in the technology sector. Offering coding opportunities through the library helps reinforce that learning, and coding, is for everyone. For many, the library might be the only free, safe, and accessible place in a given community to explore coding. Twenty libraries in Wisconsin recently screened the documentary "CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap" to spark local conversations about coding and coding careers.
- Although coding courses are offered in some school districts, by offering coding education and resources, our library is making it possible for coding education to be accessed by anyone, from young children to adults.
- Computer coding is part of a growth mindset that embraces lifelong learning and the openness to try to learn new skills. It is an opportunity for both library staff, teens and adults to serve as positive role models for our youngest community members that education and learning is a positive experience.
Why Is Coding a Needed Skill?
- Our world is changing, and workers who understand and can write programs for technology will be offered greater opportunities than their peers without that experience. By the year 2020, there will be 1.4 million jobs in programming. It is estimated that American students will not be qualified to fill these careers.
- Our world is dominated by technology, and a computer programmer wrote the code to bring that technology to us. Just as being illiterate excludes people from fully participating in the wealth of resources and experiences the world offers, being coding illiterate elects people to be passive consumers of media only, when they could be active creators of it.
Why Should We Partner with the Library on Coding?
- A community with a well-educated citizenry promotes healthy economic growth and civic involvement. As a stakeholder in our community, it is in everyone’s best interest to continue to create reasons why our community members want to stay here and use their education obtain outside the classroom in their chosen career fields.
- Every business utilizes pieces of computer programming. Do you have a company website? That is created by computer code. Does your company utilize robotics? Those machines are run by computer code.
- Offering coding education to the public allows you to have access to our community’s future workforce and can help you select and mentor future potential employees.
- The public library will promote your partnership, and your business will be promoted to the community.
Why Should I Learn about Coding?
- Every time you access technology, you have encountered computer code. A person, somewhere in the world, wrote the code for the websites you visit, the microwave you use, and the apps on your phone.
- Even having a basic understanding of computer coding allows you to understand how the technology around you works. This allows you to move from a passive consumer of media to an educated user.
- Computer coding is workforce development.
- Learning computer code utilizes logic, creative problem solving, critical thinking skills, and persistence. These are skills, even when learned in computer coding, that you can use in every area of your personal and professional life.
Developed with resources originally provided by WisCode Literati.
See also "Coding and K-12 Public Education in Wisconsin" under Basic Concepts of Coding.