May 6, 2013

A generation of Digital Makers emerge as coding comes to the fore

Posted by: in North America

While the Maker movement is focused on old-fashioned, hands-on tinkering, we’re seeing the parallel rise of Digital Makers: a generation of coders who will start using their tech know-how to build their own solutions and tools rather than waiting for someone else to do it for them. A presentation on the “Coding Generation” at Contagious magazine’s Now/Next/Why event in New York last week spotlighted the growing role coding is playing in culture, as an important technical skill and in the popular imagination.

Today, almost anyone can learn how to code, regardless of age or income, thanks to cheaper tech—like the $35 credit-card-sized computer Raspberry Pi—and wider access to coding education in the form of virtual training programs like MIT’s Scratch, the Hakitzu smartphone app and Codecademy. Plus, with tech entrepreneurs in the spotlight, coding is increasingly seen as a sexy pursuit—and a practical one. The demand for competent coders is far outstripping supply. In the U.S., Microsoft research indicates that between 2010 and 2020, there will be twice as many job openings for computer science graduates as there will be qualified graduates. In response, government bodies, educational institutions and nonprofits like CDI Apps for Good (which we profiled here) are helping to integrate coding into educational programs.

As coding’s status rises, we’ll see a shift in emphasis from digital consumption to digital production, noted Leng Lee, co-founder of the free online coding education platform Codecademy. With the next generation of Digital Makers, technical literacy will evolve from simply navigating a website to building it, creating and coding their own digital solutions on the fly.

Image credit: CDI Apps for Good

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