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Hour of Code teaches new form of literacy

By Will Sloan

Students learning code

The one-hour, skill-building coding tutorial came to Ryerson on December 9.

According to Imogen Coe, dean of the Faculty of Science, you’re going to need to add an extra “C” to “the three Rs”: “It’s reading, writing, ‘rithmetic… and coding.” That’s why on Dec. 9, the Faculty of Science invited Ryerson students, faculty and staff to participate in The Hour of Code, a one-hour skill-building tutorial at the George Vari Engineering and Computer Centre.

“Coding and programming underlie so many aspects of our lives, from healthcare to the financial markets to how we get our news to every aspect of our life,” said Coe. “Knowing how to code is a foundational part of literacy.

“I’m thrilled that we at Ryerson at the Department of Computer Science were able to make it accessible for everybody in the community. There was no anxiety: it was fun, and brought a real diversity of people together.”

Launched in 2013 by Code.org, The Hour of Code is a worldwide movement promoting coding skills to help students build careers in the 21st century. More than 196,000 Hour of Code events have been held globally, helping coding education become integrated in some school curriculums.

The Ryerson event brought student peer mentors from St. Mildred’s-Lightburn School in Oakville and St. Joseph’s College School in Toronto, plus Ryerson community members from all faculties and disciplines. Though the event targeted students, it also had a major impact on its adult participants.

“I’m a cell biologist by training, and I don’t have a background in coding,” said Coe. “I’m a bit of a skipped generation: we didn’t learn it in school because it wasn’t around when I was in school.

“There were adults there along with the kids, and there was reverse-mentoring going on: young people helping those of us who are very skilled and accomplished people, but we don’t have a background in coding.”

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