Coding and Typing

Scott Francis
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In the Austin American-Statesman over the weekend was an article covering the efforts of Austin’s K-12 schools to produce students with coding skills.

I’m a fan of teaching coding sooner.  I think of it as a language skill, along with English, Spanish, Mandarin, Math, Music, and Design. And you can read about my thoughts about the efforts of Magellan International School to address learning as language acquisition to get a sense of how I feel about the subject.

If we want to produce children prepared for the future, these language skills are crucial – and coding may be the most important of all!

But there are bumps along the road:

When leaders at the Austin Achieve charter school installed a new computer programming course this year, they knew they would hit a few snags along the way. They didn’t realize that something as basic as typing would be one of them.

“For those (students) that had the technology, they spent more time on their phones than on a keyboard,” said John Armbrust, the school’s executive director.

So on a recent Tuesday morning, as the first section of ninth graders filed in for their coding class, they pulled out their Chromebooks and started off with a few minutes of typing exercises.

Armbrust said the school will review its classes so students get more typing instruction in earlier grades. After all, he said, each one of those kids will eventually take the computer programming course; it’s part of the charter school’s core curriculum.

It turns out, typing is a foundational skill for communicating in the digital age-  and in particular for coding.  Typing with one finger or two thumbs on your phone may suffice for impromptu texts but is no way to write and debug code.

One of the interesting parallels that I see in the BPM space is this same layering of expertise.  Everyone wants to know what skills they need to have to do BPM.  And the answer is that you need to develop the foundational skills and fluency – and then get practice applying those skills to BPM-level problems.  This topic came up at bpmNEXT, in the context of how you find, recruit, and develop talent for BPM.

I could list out the technical skills you might need to be a BPM developer:

  • BPMN
  • Javascript
  • SQL
  • REST
  • HTML
  • BPM Engine / Suite of choice

And I could list out the business skills:

  • BPMN
  • DMN
  • Statistics
  • voice of customer

And many more. But moreover, the foundational skills are critical thinking, an understanding of business fundamentals like ROI, customer experience, and customer acquisition costs. And then if you’re going to implement the BPMS as well, you need coding skills. 

I love this quote from the article:

“Using technology and not being able to code is like knowing how to read and not knowing how to write,” Emily Reid, director of education at Girls Who Code, said during a South by Southwest Interactive panel last month.

Let me translate for our BPM audience.  Knowing how to use the process without knowing how to model business processes is like knowing how to read and not knowing how to write.

 

  • Emiel Kelly

    Not sure if you’re final sentence makes complete sense to me, but I know what you mean. I would even take it a little wider and stressing being able to read and write (execute and design processes) are good skills of course, but never forget to make clear what and why you write and read.

    What I still miss a lot (and maybe that’s because I don’t see BPM as “implementing a BPMS”) is what ‘Managing by process’ is about, how to define your processes, what makes a performing processes. For me the basics of BPM. And nothing new or special. Only forgotten sometimes in this ‘automation time’

    • It’s only going to get more forgotten as people pursue AI to do the analysis for them… again without really ever thinking through what the goals should be!

      • Emiel Kelly

        I’m getting too old (fashioned) for BPM…