A number of schools, in conjunction with their STEM, STEAM and STREAM efforts, are building coding classes into their curriculum. Resources such as those available at https://code.org/educate/curriculum and https://www.kodable.com/ offer resources for educators who want to incorporate this important learning to students eager to learn how to build games and create apps that might be able to generate income for them, or provide a marketable skill in the workplace of tomorrow. Even the Wall Street Journal published an article last year around this time which supported this thinking, calling the “key to unlocking the future” (Source: http://www.wsj.com/articles/why-coding-is-your-childs-key-to-unlocking-the-future-1430080118, Accessed 4.23.2016).
But a more practical application of coding is found in a new type of service industry today. This service isn’t like the checkout folks at the local grocery store or hardware warehouse, which, if you’ve noticed, now have self-checkout lanes. It’s the folks that implement and integrate technology applications, writing the code so that system can communicate with one another. How does that hardware warehouse know that a shipment of new floor tile will be arriving from the manufacturer on a particular day when the manufacturer is in a different city than the warehouse’s distribution center, and both use enterprise software provided by two different companies? Or, how does your school’s student information system connect to a product where parents can pay for field trip fees and other student activities? If you said, “The kids bring a check or cash to school,” you’re inviting embezzlement and, very soon, potential identity theft and fraud responsibility if credit cards are accepted on site.
What about the future? Technology will become more and more pervasive within “things” we have right now (which is the idea behind “The Internet of Things.”). The automobile industry is being transformed as you’re reading this in this way. For example, automatic braking to avoid accidents are becoming available on more and more vehicles. The “self-park” feature is attractive to those that have a difficult time parallel parking, not necessarily by being poor judgers of distance, for those who cannot turn their heads easily and quickly to gain the views necessary to successfully parallel park. If you’ve seen one of the latest Verizon commercials, they’re now marketing a tool that you can plug in to your car to discover why that Service Engine Soon light is illuminated. This was something that you couldn’t necessarily do without going to the service department at the retailer, and then being charged $30 to $90 just to find out what’s wrong.
Check out this video at http://partners.wsj.com/accenture/technology-vision-2016/intelligent-automation/ for a look at how artificial intelligence will be transforming the market as well as the workplace. It’s not that machines will be replacing people to do what people once did, although that’s indeed possible, but it’s going to take people to know how to create that technology, as well as analyze the data gleaned by AI to effect process improvement.
Is this the direction that every school is heading? No. Some private and faith-based schools are revising their curricula to provide more of a “Classical” education, emphasizing debate, Latin and Greek, and elocution over high-tech mastery. Why? Inspired thinking needs to be effectively communicated, and new ideas need to be presented with passion tempered with rationalization. The ability to communicate and cooperate in the global marketing place is essential…between technologies, and between human beings.