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Non-profit pioneers virtual coding courses for young people

Teaching coding to young people gives them the skills they need. But what if there is no school provision? The virtual option provides an alternative learning path.

File: A photo taken at an event called Ladies Learning Code Jon Lim (CC BY 2.0)
File: A photo taken at an event called Ladies Learning Code Jon Lim (CC BY 2.0)

Just as the previous generation of young people needed to use the Internet and to be conversant with accessing digital services representing a new form of literacy, it is to coding that the current generation of students need to be familiar with.

Coding is about how we communicate with computers, and it is what we use to build and run websites, apps, games, and other digital platforms.

It is for this reason that many academics and employers see coding as a matter of basic literacy in the digital age. This means it is essential for young people to understand and be able to work with the technology around them. By ensuring children learn coding at a young age prepares them for the future. Coding helps children with communication, creativity, math, writing, and confidence.

There are barriers to coding, stretching from an educational institution not offering coding as part of the mainstream curriculum to gender role stereotyping which can put young women off from becoming coders.

Several institutions are challenging these barriers by reaching out to communities and offering training. While much of this remains based on one-to-one tuition or through after school classes, at least one body has moved the entire young person coding model as a virtual package.

The League of Amazing Programmers, which can be found at: join the league . The League is a non-profit school teaching programming, aimed at young people in 5th – 12th grade (U.S. school system). The focus is with helping to lay down the foundations for young people to take up science and technology at a higher level and to use this as a springboard for careers in these sectors.

The League also presents coding as a fun activity, and one with developmental benefits which can assist the child will all forms of learning. Coding teaches logical communication, strengthening both verbal and written skills. In a sense, learning code means learning a new language, such as Java or Python.

Operating from San Diego, California, U.S., The League uses an interactive course program. The method of teaching is via online classes, which take place throughout the year. By targeting students at a comparatively young age, The League takes the view that it is vital for kids to receive an introduction at an early age that they can understand and have fun with.

The aim is also to help young people to consider a future career in science or technology. Currently, programmers and coders are in high demand and industry surveys suggest that being conversant with coding provides a competitive advantage in the jobs marketplace.

In relation to the relative disadvantages faced by women in tech, one person who was able to change her career path by taking advantage of the online course explains how these types of courses were of benefit: “The League of amazing programmers have built my confidence to become an engineer. I thought that there weren’t any chances for me to get a major in the area of engineering due to the low percentage of women in field. Over the past year the league has provided me with the necessary skills to prepare me for my future career.”

The organization also reached out to under-represented communities. This is through funding devices and support systems to help ensure a more level playing field for students from under-resourced populations. This has included appointing new Fostering Inclusion Fellows under the Americorps program (DaniRose Hill and Genesis Ocasio).

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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