Recognizing the critical need for youth to develop digital skills starts with understanding that technology drives just about everything that defines modern society as we know it. Whether it’s the alarm app that wakes you with your favourite music, the coffee machine that makes your coffee or the traffic light that clears your path to school or work - behind every application, there is a person who coded the programs that make them work.
It is important that youth not only know how to use these technologies but understand how they work and have the skills to produce new technologies in the future. This is digital literacy.
It’s not just computer engineers and computer scientists who use digital skills in their work. Whether you are a writer, a graphic artist, a dancer or a musician - digital skills will be essential and will drive future opportunities to innovate and disrupt in these fields. Digital literacy is a new literacy and all youth, regardless of background, geography, gender or socio-economic status, should have the opportunity to be empowered to create new technologies to make their world a better place.
Actua’s network members across Canada offer year-round coding and digital skills camps, clubs, and workshops for youth in K-12 in schools and the broader community . These programs engage youth in developing their digital literacy by exposing them to various coding and programming skills and providing opportunities for them to apply these technologies to solving problems that matter to them. A broad range of technologies are used and explored from app creation, to robotics, to current fields like artificial intelligence and big data. All of our programs are led by undergraduate students in science, technology, engineering, math and education, so that participants can meet young role models and mentors in these fields.
Actua’s coding and digital skills programs are supported by the world’s top companies in technology including Google, Microsoft, GE, Lockheed Martin, Shopify and many more. In 2018, the Government of Canada also announced that Actua would receive $10 Million from its new CanCode program supporting opportunities for Canadian youth to develop skills and confidence in coding.
In February 2018, Actua released the results of a first-of-its-kind survey, Coding the Future: What Canadian youth and their parents think about coding, which assessed the confidence and attitudes of Canadian kids and parents toward coding, and jobs of the future. The results revealed a largely enthusiastic cohort of students and parents, but also a persistent gender gap, a socio-economic divide, and a concerning lack of opportunity to learn to code inside and outside of Canadian schools.
Among the most revealing findings of the survey: