New languages are entering K-12 classrooms that have never been spoken aloud. In today’s world, these silent languages are surpassing verbal languages, like Spanish and English, as key tools to communicate on a global scale: They are computer coding languages, such as Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML), Extensible Markup Language (XML) and other software codes, such as C++ and Java. Coding advocates say that learning these languages, as part of a comprehensive computer science education, is fundamental to better preparing students for the future. Statistics from Code.org, a non-profit advocacy group supported by the likes of Google and Microsoft, show that there are 1.4 million computing jobs but only 400,000 computer science students. Source: Code.org According to Code.org, “Computer science drives innovation in the U.S. economy and society. Despite growing demand for jobs in the field, it remains marginalized throughout the U.S. K-12 education system.” President Barack Obama is on the coding bandwagon too. Obama says that learning these skills isn’t just important for the students’ future – it’s important for the country’s future to stay on the cutting edge. In December 2014, the Administration announced new commitments that will help give millions of additional K-12 students access to computer science education, including: Sitting among a room full of students, Obama does the Hour of Code. He said, “All across the country people are doing code. We’re starting too late, when it comes to making sure that our young people are familiar not just with how to play a video game, but how to create a video game.” Current Computer Coding in Schools Currently, only 26 states allow students to count computer science courses toward high school graduation, despite computer science leading to some of the best paying jobs. In recognition of this, school districts, as well as states, are pushing for more computer programming classes in schools. Source: Code.org In Arkansas, more than 1,300 high school students signed up for summer classes on computer coding and 87 schools have requested funding for classes from Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s K-12 Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) education initiative, THV 11 reported in August 2015. In addition, more than 130 teachers from all over the state have received training over the summer to teach computer science. In Massachusetts, legislature provided $1.5 million in matching funds for the Massachusetts Computing Attainment Network, or MassCAN, to train teachers in computer science and to lobby more school districts to introduce lessons, The Boston Globe reported in August 2015. Onvia’s Spending Forecast Center confirms these trends: School districts have adopted or proposed 595 budget and technology plans for the coming five years related to computer science, coding and STEM programs. Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District in California Approved its 2015-2018 Technology Plan in April 2015, which extends engineering and computer science programs aimed to teach students about the computer design process, as well as strong teamwork and communication, and organizational and critical thinking skills. Furthermore, students are interested enough that many schools in the district have started after-school coding and robotics clubs. The Bow Public School District in New Hampshire Approved its 2014-2017 technology plan with a goal to make students more aware of computer coding and programming classes. To counteract the constant under enrollment, the district wants to introduce students to the concepts of coding in elementary and middle school. The Desire to Learn Coding is Driving Contract Opportunities Typical computer users may view coding languages such as HTML and XML as nothing more than a string of random letters and unfamiliar symbols, but it’s the intricate lists of letters and symbols that create engaging, vibrant websites and user-friendly computer programs that anyone can use. This intrigue of creation through technology has grabbed students’ attention. “Children want to learn how to code. … It’s actually a very cool thing to them,” Matt Harrell, Founder of MemberHub and Tech Chair of a Parent Teacher Association board, wrote for Edutopia.org. One way to accommodate more computer science in K-12 education is to transform older industrial arts classrooms, or “shop classes,” into 21st century technology centers. Hartford County in Maryland Adopted funding in its 2015-2020 Capital Improvement Plan for a project that turns its outdated “Industrial Arts shops” into classrooms with computer equipment and technology. The $2.6 million project includes buying furniture, computers and engineering software for the program, which will be phased in at all middle and selected high schools. The programs are an essential part of the Hartford County Public Schools’ K-12 STEM Education Strategic Plan. The county also approved $1 million in its budget for new equipment, such as upgrading computers, printers, scanners, instructional technology and laboratory equipment. As school districts institute these new classes, they are also issuing contracts to help them formulate the curricula to make classes meet state education standards. Gateway Preparatory Academy in Enoch, Utah Awarded a contract in November 2014 to My Tech High, Inc., an online learning provider, for curriculum supplies and educational software. In the proposal, the academy described the classes as offering a wide variety of individualized curriculum choices, multiple learning methods, a catalog of at least 20 online and on-site courses geared for first-graders through eighth-graders, and a range of topics, such as game design, web development, mobile apps, Minecraft programming and graphic design. Teaching Coding is Good News for Multiple Industries States, such as Arkansas and Massachusetts, have grant programs available that will go toward computer programming and coding education. Private and non-profit organizations are on board to partner with schools to help introduce and expand computer science programs. For example, CodeEd, a non-profit that teaches computer science to girls in underserved communities, provides classes on introduction to HTML and programming, learning to build websites and basic site navigation. Code.org also aims to improve diversity and the number of female students in the field: 43% of coders are girls (and a lot more)! An update on http://t.co/VYSjxTYFzK's work so far in 2015: http://t.co/Z18SWCxUJ5 — Code.org (@codeorg) July 14, 2015 K-12 education is just at the beginning of this technology trend, based on the number of schools adopting capital improvement and technology plans. Most contract awards are a year-long or less and valued less than $25,000, however, the number of contracts will grow as more states and school districts opt to bring computer science to students. Companies in the business and consulting industry—particularly those supplying educational products and services—will have an increasing number of contract opportunities. IT software companies too can adapt their services and target schools with simple software solutions to educate students and teachers. IT hardware providers have business prospects as schools continue to invest in more computer hardware to make the coding and devices for hands-on learning lessons. Companies can benefit by partnering with other firms that are well versed in either education or software engineering to make an entry into the new world coding in the classroom.