Mark Zuckerberg, Lesley Chilcott, will.i.am, and more have teamed up with Code.org to encourage more people to start learning how to read and create computer code. Why? Part of the reason is that by 2020 there will be a projected 1.4 million computer jobs available and only 400,000 qualified computer science graduates to fill them. That leaves about a million jobs open in one of the country’s highest paying careers.
So why aren’t more people learning to code? It’s that question that prompted code.org to create a short film that discusses how simple most coding really is. The 9-and-a-half minute film is directed by Lesley Chilcott (An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for Superman) and features some of the most recognized people in tech, sports, and music today. Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Jack Dorsey, Drew Houston, Chris Bosh, and will.i.am all make appearances to discuss coding.
“A lot of the coding that people do is actually fairly simple,” said Makinde Adeagbo, who was one of Facebook’s first engineers. “It’s more about the process of breaking down problems than coming up with complicated algorithms, as people traditionally think about it.”
Indeed, all the faces on the video seem to agree that coding is much simpler and more attainable than people often think. “It starts out being very intimidating, but you kind of get the hang of it over time,” says Dropbox creator Drew Houston. He compared it to playing an instrument, learning a new sport, or any other number of things we all do in our lifetime.
Will.i.am takes it from a logical standpoint. One of the music industry’s best, he’s now taking coding classes. We all use modern technology to communicate, work, and play, but “none of us know how to read and write code,” he says incredulously.
Most high schools today don’t even offer computer science classes, which means that kids don’t even get the chance to learn it with other core curriculum. But coding can be a way to help students learn to think, create something from nothing, and would open so many doors of opportunity. So why don’t we offer it?
Code.org is trying to change that problem. On their website, they offer free coding tools, where anyone can go to learn. Online programs there include Scratch, Codecademy, Khan Academy, and CodeHS. They also list local schools that offer coding classes, including high schools, vocational schools, and more.