How do we attract more kids to study technology and take an interest in computer programming? As the demand for talented IT professionals grows, we’ll need to encourage the next generation of youth to take an active interest in learning the skills to innovate in technology!
Here at Market Street Talent, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best strategies out there to teach tech skills to youth. Here are four ideas that could help encourage more students to get involved – and prepared for future careers:
- Technology games for youth – There are an amazing number of recent books, toys and games out there developed to help teach young children how to think like a computer programmer. Fun activities for children are a natural way to teach skills – such as problem solving, troubleshooting and logical progression – in a low-pressure environment. You can learn more about how parents can support early tech education for their children (even for preschoolers) in this great article from Forbes, or read about the game Robot Turtles for preschool age children created by Google Comparison Inc. CEO Dan Shapiro here.
- Grade school level technology programs – Experts are saying that more students will be attracted to IT if we teach technology skills to elementary age students in schools. All over the country, cutting edge coding programs are being offered to grade school students to close the digital divide for youth from diverse backgrounds. In Silicon Valley, for example, elementary schools are offering computer programming courses. The classes are as popular with girls and they are with boys, possibly because at this age the negative cultural stereotypes that discourage girls haven’t yet set in. You can read more about the results in this article, which details how: “The student work speaks for itself. Girls or boys, minority or not, low-income or affluent – it does not matter. Everyone can learn to program, just like everyone can learn to swim when they are young and unafraid.”
- Mentoring programs – Providing role models for youth, and especially those from diverse backgrounds, is critical for challenging negative cultural stereotypes. Technology professionals who share their experience with youth can inspire the next generation of computer programmers and support them by sharing real knowledge that can help them to pursue their goals. IT professionals can offer their skills through mentoring programs in both the public school system and nonprofit organizations. Here in Boston, Massachusetts, for example, the nonprofit Big Brothers Big Sisters is offering a new mentoring program with a technology club for local youth.
- Create a culture of creativity and entrepreneurship around technology – IT can become more inclusive for youth if we break down the barriers to coding. An interesting idea on how to do this is outlined in a recent article published in Slate, which makes the case for encouraging children to ‘hack’ their devices, such as iPads, smartphones and other mobile devices. We want youth to experiment and learn the power, creativity and curiosity that are central to coding.
At Market Street Talent, we want to continue the conversation about how best to support up and coming, diverse talent for the future of technology. We want to hear from you! Let us know how you got involved in computer programming. Get involved in the discussion here!