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Computer literacy, going beyond the basics

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Computer programming doesn’t just teach the programming language, it can also teach students how a computer works. (Cristina Fletes-Boutte/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)

Computers are used every day for just about every task imaginable, including work, school and recreation. In fact, most people carry one around their pocket.

However, as ubiquitous as they are, many people still have no idea how they do what they do and what goes into building and programming a computer.

This can leave people terrified of exploring a computer beyond the basics, fearing that they’ll break something and leave the computer unfixable.

To combat this, it’s been suggested that computer programming become a required class at Weber State University. The class would be put in the same category of importance as math, english, art, science and history classes.

Computer programming doesn’t just teach the programming language, it can also teach students how a computer works, how it understands the code that is put in and how it turns it into a useable application.

“Personally I think it’s dangerous to not understand something you use every day,” Joshua Jensen, an instructor in the Computer Science Department at WSU, said.

Additionally, with daily use of the internet and social media some people may not understand what information is being put on the internet and show little regard to how it’s used or where it’s going. Educating students to understand how a computer works and what goes on in the background could make them aware of what really happens when something is uploaded.

Both Adam Alvey and Chris Alvery, editors at the video production company Alvey Media Group, believe that it’s important to use computers but also to learn how to use them.

“I mean there’s not a job you can get now that doesn’t use computers,” Adam Alvey said.

According to both Adam and Chris Alvey, educating more people on computers would have a profound effect on the way people view and use them. “There’s a need for computational thinking in all students,” Brian Rague, PH.D. and chair of Computer Science Department, said.

Rague believes that since people are surrounded by computational devices in everyday life that a required computer programming class can help raise awareness of the security issues and the capability of these machines.

Computers are not going away anytime soon and have grown and adapted to meet the needs of many different professions such as retail and healthcare.

“Get rid of the veil,” Jensen said. “Anybody can come and understand.”

For more information about computer programming classes at WSU students can visit the Computer Science Department website or call (801) 626-7929. The department can also be reached in their office located in the technical education building on WSU main campus in room 110D.

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