Computer coding is simply instructing a computer to do what you want it to do. German Dulanto teaches it to his 9th graders, step-by-step.
“A progression, we cannot just jump all the way to Java,” Dulanto is saying to his class on the day NBC 6 visited.
But they’ve already jumped into the future, because the future is now.
“The country needs programmers, and we call it coding, but in reality it’s programming, and that’s what we’re short of,” Dulanto said. “We’re importing people as we speak from foreign countries just to do the programming here.”
At Dulanto’s school, the brand-new magnet high school, iTech Edison Educational Center, students are learning how to build creations on a 3-D printer and more basic skills like making their names move on the screen, or creating websites.
Lots of schools in Miami-Dade and Broward counties offer coding as an elective, and now many educators, like iTech’s principal, say computer programming should be a required class.
“It should be part of the curriculum even earlier than high school,” said Dr. Sean Gallagan, principal of iTech Edison Educational Center. “It should be in the middle and elementary schools so these kids can learn a very good foundation of logic, of order, of how things work.”
Silver Shores Elementary School in Miramar is one school that starts kids off early with coding, and Dulanto said, that’s how it should be.
“It definitely is in Europe,” Dulanto said, adding that coding should be required in the United States, too.
At iTech Edison, computer programming is integrated into every subject.
“We use coding within all of our classes,” said Dr. Gallagan. “For example, in science, they can take it to all the chemicals, or the biology, or whatever it is and convert that into data and with the computer program, take that data and analyze it.”
School officials said they are planting the seeds for the next generation of innovators.
“They all go to an App Store, someone wrote every one of those apps. Why not one of the students,” Dr. Gallagan asked.
Gallagan said the issue is making the commitment to move coding to the front-burner of educational priorities.
“It’s a matter of will, do we have the will to have these students take these classes and be in them? Do we have the level of professional development for our teachers so they can teach these students to do it?” asks Gallagan, clearly hoping the answer is yes.