Computers are an every day essential in our modern lives. Hardly any of us can get through a day without resorting to some sort of technology to help us through it, and most of us spend the majority of our work life on a computer or cell phone. According to Recode, this reality has even gotten to the point that nearly half of American teens are online 'almost constantly.'
Despite how critical technology is for our day to day living, computer programming is not nationally mandated to be taught, and school systems have been slow to add on classes that reflect our need to understand technology, until now. The city of Chicago is working with Apple to provide education to thousands of school age children on how to code.
The new program, entitled “Everyone can Code,” teaches children of all ages Apple's Swift Code. This is a popular code used to make many of the apps we are familiar with today, and is fairly simple and easy to understand compared to many other computer languages.
Children learn how to code through Swift Playground, a series of simple lessons made up of puzzles and games that the code can solve. As you advance through the game, so does your knowledge of coding. Apple also plans to make this program available for after school clubs, so that children will have as many chances as possible to learn these valuable skills.
There are nearly 500,000 children in Chicago, and Apple is working hand in hand with the city of Chicago itself, as well as Northwestern University to help make the new changes easier. Northwestern staff will be working directly with teachers to help them learn how to teach the Everyone Can Code Curriculum. The lessons are free for any teacher who wishes to bring this curriculum to their school.
Apple is also providing all of the equipment at the Center of Excellence, where these free classes are being offered to teachers, needed in order to learn the curriculum. This includes iPads, Macs, as well as the necessary accessories that go with them.
Coding is a skill that is in high demand right now. Today's technology, from the computers that help run our cars to the apps on our phones all need a coder to create them. According to code.org, there are over 500,000 high paying programming jobs available right now, but less than 50,000 coders entering the workforce each year. As more of our every day items require technology to move forward, the demand for coders is expected to only grow.
Apple's new program comes at a very good time for the world, and may help encourage young children to fill some of these needed jobs. With the average salary of a computer programmer around $80,000, learning to code could make a bright future for any child who takes an interest in this program. As an added benefit, some computer programming jobs can be earned through apprenticeship programs as opposed to a college degree - which can be a cost barrier for those who stand to gain the most from a job in a growing field.
This investment comes at a vital time as the city of Chicago has faced stress on its educational system in the past few years over budget and funding issues that has lead to the closure of schools. At a time where computer programing is not yet mandatory nation wide, this new program could lead to Chicago becoming another source of recruitment for highly coveted jobs in technology- especially given that Apple and fellow tech company Amazon are both searching for cities to build ancillary headquarters.
The program is already rolling out to schools around Chicago, and will be one of the largest roll outs of Apple's program so far.