Why We Should Teach Kids How the Web Works

May 06, 2013
Kelsey Herron
Common Sense Media
San Francisco, CA
CATEGORIES Digital Literacy, In the Classroom, Tools

More and more experts are arguing that today’s students must learn computer programming, and, more specifically, how to use HTML code in order to be fully literate. Coding, a skill that may seem daunting to some of us, has become a literacy of its own—one that some think should be taught to students as early as elementary school.

“If you close your eyes and think about the world 10 years from now, it will be completely different,” said Krishna Vedati, CEO and cofounder of Plusmo Inc., among several other start-up tech companies. Vedati, who emigrated to the U.S. from India in 1991 and received his master’s degree in computer science, is a passionate proponent of teaching kids how to code. He sent his nine-year-old son to coding camp at Stanford University.

“Kids will have computing everywhere,” Vedati said in a recent interview with Venture Beat writer Jolie O’Dell. “Doctors will be using computing to make decisions. Jobs will require more technology. … The new jobs that will be created won’t be just programming jobs. But can you think about organizing data? Information and computation is coming to every field.” This is precisely why O’Dell and others are saying young students everywhere can benefit from learning how to code.

Vedati isn’t just personally invested either. He recently cofounded another program, Tynker, which teaches grade-schoolers the building blocks of coding using games and puzzles. According to Vedati, Tynker also incorporates the STEM content that students are already learning in schools.

O’Dell explained the basics of the program:

So to start kids out, Tynker focuses on the more important but more basic concepts all programming languages have in common, like how loops work, how to solve computing problems, and how to order and structure tasks for machines.

The platform contains additional tools as well. Lesson plans, interactive tutorials, lesson-creating tools, and software that allow educators to assign and grade projects are all free features of Tynker, which is available for teachers, schools, and districts. O’Dell also reported that the Tynker team is currently looking into analytics and other advanced features that could be extremely useful to school districts looking to better track their STEM progress.

Vedati’s Tynker may be one of the first to specifically target elementary and middle school students, but it’s certainly not the only one invested in teaching students how to code. Mozilla’s webmaker tools are specifically designed to explain how the web works to both students and educators, and some of their tools, like Popcorn Maker, are specifically designed to teach kids how to hack.

Like any other language taught in schools, coding is the language of the web, and is just one of the many facets of digital media that could be beneficial for students to learn at a young age. Hopefully, with the influx of programs like Tynker, Mozilla’s webmaker tools, and others, coding will become a more ubiquitous and accessible subject for kids to tap into inside the classroom, at home, or with their peers.

For more watch this great video that's been making the rounds from, a nonprofit dedicated to growing computer science education.