Why Apple's support for Day of Code matters

Understanding coding is fundamental to living on a connected planet


On a planet on which technology is the biggest growth industry, it makes sense to ensure that every young person has an opportunity to access and understand the nature of tech, regardless of sex, sexuality or race, does it not?

We may need some education

Apple thinks it does. And this is why it has joined pretty much every tech firm, school district and many local governments in lending its support to the Hour of Code event, led by code.org.

The campaign aims to reach 100 million students by the end of the 2014 -- the idea is to break down barriers that surround computer science and also to break down the ghastly white male tech geek stereotype that steers girls and minorities away from entering the field. 

Apple retail stores across the planet will host one-hour coding workshops on December 11. These will offer an introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code and help inspire students to learn the basics of it. Apple will also host developers and engineers for special events and discussions in some cities around the world.


This is the second year Apple has supported the effort. “Education is part of Apple’s DNA and we believe this is a great way to inspire kids to discover technology," said Apple VP, Eddy Cue.

There's a real stigma about coding -- a genuine perception that it is difficult or challenging or too geeky. This means many youth who could possibly be engaged in doing it are not switched on to it.

"There's definitely a stigma with computer science," science teacher Lisa Floyd told The London Free Press. "Students use technology all the time, they use their phones, their apps, play games, but they don't know the basics of coding."

That's a shame.

The value of the technology industry goes way beyond consumer gadgets and extends deep inside the entire economic structure, from raw materials exploration to healing the sick; from disease prevention and control to education, business, enterprise -- the impact of technology is felt in every industry in the world.

Breaking the barriers

In this environment it makes sense that those who are building the technologies increasingly relied upon by everyone on the planet represent a wide cross section of the people on this planet -- race, sex, creed should not be barriers to participation in building the technology of tomorrow's world.

Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook supports the program, recently donating $1 million on Indiegogo to Code.org's Hour of Code crowdfunding campaign. "When I think of what they are teaching in school in ten year's time I think we'll find that ... a basic understanding of code...will be as important as reading and writing," Zuckerberg said. Facebook may be an iPhone battery hog and its attitude to user privacy may leave something to be desired, but he does at least understand the fundamental importance of coding on a connected planet.

Tomorrow's world

It's not just about coding, of course -- programming languages change, and today's modern OS is already scheduled for replacement. What matters is to provide participating students with an intuitive understanding of the inherent logic that drives the code.

In the UK, reaction to last year's Hour of Code event seemed pretty positive. "I saw fireworks go off over student's heads, not lightbulbs," said one teacher. "Then I knew that this was like a once in a lifetime chance to learn this, a student said.

Making education available matters if we're serious about fostering equal opportunity on our increasingly connected planet -- otherwise the code driving tomorrow's world will reflect only the ideas of the white males who currently dominate tech. 'Hands up, don't shoot,' is a movement, not a statement, and coding can be critical in crafting a different vision for future generations.

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Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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