What Learning to Code Means for Students

February 23, 2017

“Coding is the new literacy. To thrive in tomorrow’s society, young people must learn to design, create and express themselves with digital technologies.” –Mitchel Resnick, MIT Media Lab Professor

What does “coding is the new literacy” really mean? As programming languages evolve, what students learn today won’t be applicable within a decade or less. Coding helps build computational thinking skills and these skills allow students, who will be our future leaders, creators, and workers, to evolve with technological change, ensuring that they will succeed in the jobs of the future.

Computational thinking is the problem-solving process that is essential to the development of computer applications, and can be applied to understanding broader systems and the world. Ideally, computational thinking can help students begin to see relationships across academic disciplines, as well as practice the art and science of learning how to learn.

Seymour Papert (the “father” of educational computing) saw students as “active agents interacting with the world and building ever-evolving theories.” The following five resources can help your students become active agents by developing computational thinking and introducing them to coding skills:


Remix and rewrite game design, from a variety of different devices.

This program helps young people create code for gaming and animation designs, through personalization. The visual learning experience incorporates images and music they are familiar with to help them better understand the coding process. Scratch also allows for learning anywhere and is supported by different technological platforms like iPads and other mobile devices.

  1. Khan Academy: Computing

Have an hour? Have a month? Personalize your coding journey with KA tutorials/courses.

Khan Academy introduced “Computing” into their library of courses under three categories: Computer Programming, Computer Science, and Hour of Code. Khan Academy combines video, practice opportunities, and a community of learners to assist students in a variety of settings—from independent to school-based.

  1. TaleBlazer

Like virtual reality, but better.

TaleBlazer uses augmented reality to help students create and play games based on their location. The goal of the platform is to translate the concepts into real-world experiences. A GPS tracker allows the students to build the foundations of games based on locations familiar to them.

  1. MIT App Inventor

You use them all the time. Now make one of your own.

This beginner application development platform pushes students to think critically about the technological tools they use every day. No matter the skill level, this tool lets the student create a full-functioning app in under an hour. App Inventor teaches ideas in different formats including videos, tutorials, and concept-cards. Students can learn via video or text.

  1. Code.org

Understand computer science—and feel inspired while doing it.

Code.org is all about learning computer science skills through youth empowerment, and is designed specifically to get more women and students of color to code. The platform offers advocacy tools to empower users to promote and value coding, regardless of expertise. The coursework allows users to pause at certain concepts, gives them room for error, and focuses on tasks the students are specifically struggling with.

To learn more about these resources, check out our quick guide, Programming for Personalization.

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