In a recent blog post, Mary Snapp, Corporate Vice President and Head of Microsoft Philanthropies, announced that this powerhouse tech company had decided to invest in Rhode Island’s TEALS (Technology Education And Literacy in Schools) program – a program that is also supported by two local institutions of higher learning: Brown University and University of Rhode Island.
This investment and initiative are particularly important for the simple reason that computer literacy is fast becoming a required or needed skill in many jobs, and those who do not have the ability or means to learn basic computer skills at an early age may be at a disadvantage when they take up arms for the job hunt later in life. Indeed, computer science is undeniably a gateway to more meaningful employment and plays an active role in creating solutions for a number of problems.
In her blog, Snapp notes that Rhode Island’s TEALS program is just the latest in a number of computer literacy initiatives across the nation. Last winter, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act, a bipartisan move to give education departments the funding and resources they need to bring adequate STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education to every school across the country. Traction for integrating computer science into childhood education is becoming more and more important and more prevalent. Right now, over half of the states in the Union allow for computer science credits to be applied to obtaining a high school diploma.
Given this news, it should come as no surprise, that as new technologies become part of everyday life, expectations surrounding them must evolve and become more forward looking. 20 years ago, computers were still somewhat novel in the home. But who could blame anyone for thinking in such a way— how much could you really get done with a slow computer or even slower dial up connection? As for children, computers were little more than a toy; a platform for games and entertainment. But the years went by, World Book gave way to Wikipedia, 411 caved to search engines, and asking your friend for directions was supplanted by just plugging an address into Google Maps. So in short, if young people are going to effectively compete in a world that is always connected, they will likely need to learn how it works as soon as they can read and write.