Is computer coding going to be the next required “literacy?”



It’s very clear that the computer and the Internet are revolutionizing almost everything that we do. From shopping to entertainment, newsgathering and dissemination, and on to education, almost all of the services and things we used to be able to do only in “real life” we now are able to do virtually. There is a new line of thought that because of the pervasive nature of technology in everyday life, people (specifically people seeking a college degree) should know how to code a computer. Yes, we are even talking about English majors here.

According to a recent article in Inside Higher Ed, being an educated person means being able to understand how the tools you use work. The author, Audrey Watters, likens our use of computers to our use of cars.

You’ve got to have a basic understanding of what makes the wheels go ‘round. Watters argues that if you use a computer, no matter what your major is, you should at least have a basic understanding of how search engines work, a basic understanding of HTML (mark-up only), CSS (cascading style sheets), and JavaScript.

Her argument is pretty spot-on. There’s probably not a single college graduate out there that won’t use computers at some point or another in their work. Even musicians, artists, and dancers need to use the computer to move ahead professionally (and actually musicians and visual artists probably use computers much more than a lot of other majors because those two industries have embraced technology as an important facet of each respective field).

According to Douglas Rushkoff, author and technology expert, all students should be learning code. “It’s time Americans begin treating computer code the way we do the alphabet or arithmetic … Program or be programmed.” He goes on to say “So few Americans know how to code that firms like Google and Facebook are actually buying whole companies just for their code literate employees.”

One of the easiest ways to start learning code is by enrolling in a coding class. Here’s the best part: you don’t even have to pay. The Codeacademy is a new startup that is offering a coding tutorial online for free to anyone who signs up at, with a new tutorial every Monday.

Not only will you be more employable if you know how to code, you will be bringing your skill level up higher than many other people who may be vying for the same jobs you are. It can really put a prospective employee at the top of the employment pile, because so few people actually know how to code (in the US that is.)

According to Rushkoff, China and India teach their students how to code from early on. Says Rushkoff, “If you know how to code, you can likely get a high paying job right now, or – better – make valuable stuff right now.”