AP computer science offers 21st century literacy: The importance of computer literacy in the modern age


Irie Sentner, Specials Editor

As technology becomes a central component of contemporary society, skills involving coding and technological literacy are becoming ever-more important. Programming jobs are growing 12% faster than the market average — the state of Colorado currently has 13,775 open computing jobs. However, when companies seek to fill this demand for programmers, a deficit is found. In 2015, only 785 college graduates in Colorado had degrees in Computer Science.

In response to the changing employment landscape, Durango High School offers two AP Computer Science classes. Tara Haller teaches both, and is an advocate for youth computer science education.

It is important to learn how to code in high school to demystify the technology we use all of the time; to add a skill set on top of reading, writing, and arithmetic,” said Haller. “Most importantly… coding requires thinking and problem solving — it makes us use our brains — and that is a good thing.

Sophomore Logan Moore, who is currently taking Computer Science Principles, agrees.

Computers will be used for many years and kids should know how to code because it shows how the things they do so easily online every day are created. It gives them a deeper meaning of how things work,” said Moore.

Jobs in technology are appealing for many reasons. Besides the high demand, programmers in Colorado make an average salary of $98,597 and often have flexible working conditions.

I think jobs in technology are more flexible than other jobs because you can work in remote locations. For example, I am traveling [to Massachusetts] in a week but I don’t have to put my job on hold because I can work from anywhere,” said Chris Ducker, a local software engineer for Vantiv Integrated Payments.

Computer science classes don’t just prepare students for jobs in technology, but acts as skill of logic and problem solving.

Computer Science adds to your high-level reasoning and analytical thinking skill set.  It is an opportunity to practice problem solving while learning skills that transfer easily into the workplace,” said Haller.

While technologies continue to evolve, a high school introduction and foundation in computer science can lend the necessary thinking skills to be successful in any market.

If you learn fundamentals, then those can be the building blocks from which you can learn to maximize the opportunities of the new employment landscape,” said Ducker.

It is for these, and a myriad of additional reasons, that the introduction of Computer Science classes to DHS curriculums is valuable. The world is changing, and it is good to see that DHS is responding by increasing student access to programming skill sets.  

“I would recommend anybody take the class and I would love to take more classes!” said Moore.  “Computer programming is such a highly sought after job and a worthy skill to know and learn.”