Approachable Computer Science Education Goes Beyond the Code

By Carly Langlois, Education Curriculum Developer

Computer-Science-Education-Week_Blog-01There are countless reasons why computer science education is important. Too many to fit into one blog post. Technology is everywhere. It infiltrates every industry and heavily impacts our day-to-day lives. Modern living is powered by algorithms and coded bits and bytes. Computer programming is the literacy of our century. We all know how critical code is to our daily lives and how powerful programming knowledge is. Computer science education is about more than the tech industry, though. Through approachable education, my team at LaunchCode is committed to creating opportunities beyond programming.

Computer programming is the literacy of our century.

Since joining the LaunchCode Education team in July, I have been learning what it means to make education approachable. At LaunchCode, our flagship courses are free and applications are open to all. You don’t need a college education or previous work experience in a technical field to do well in a LaunchCode course. The material is stripped of prerequisite knowledge, so every student starts at the same place. And without enrollment costs, we’re eliminating what, for many, is the biggest barrier to acquiring the knowledge and skills to excel in computer science. My team is dedicated to ensuring that, even beyond cost, our curriculum can reach students from a wide variety of backgrounds and be truly beneficial in shaping their future careers. As a former high-school teacher, my coworker Jim, brings lecturing and pedagogy experience, helping us to take different learning styles into consideration and think through ways we can make the learning journey engaging for all. Sally, another teammate, is a strong advocate for making our curriculum more accessible through tools and practices like checking for screen reader compatibility, captioning images, and re-creating our video lessons to include accompanying written scripts.

Programming skills are about being personally, professionally and financially empowered.

Yes, we’re teaching the skills needed for entry-level programming positions, and for computer science students, it’s about a lot more than just a career path. Learning to code is about critical thinking and problem solving, skills that come in handy beyond the workplace and in all walks of life. It’s about grasping the foundation of how the web works — a tool most of us use throughout every single day. Programming skills are about being personally, professionally and financially empowered. At LaunchCode, we do more than teach people to code. We’re creating opportunities and removing barriers by designing classes for everyone. LaunchCode believes talent is equally distributed but we know that opportunity is not, and our accessible computer science education is aimed at narrowing those discrepancies.