Coding and computer science are typically associated with outcomes around problem-solving and analytical skills. For instruction that yields cultural literacy, we most often look to language arts and social sciences. But Victor Hicks approaches these academic pathways as complementary, not contradictory. With Google's Applied Digital Skills as his foundation, Hicks prioritizes culturally relevant teaching through the vehicle of computer science.

Hicks teaches grades three through eight at The Kindezi School at Old Fourth Ward in Atlanta and also directs the nonprofit Coding With Culture. He has made it his life’s mission and work to bring learning technology to more students—particularly students of color. As part of our celebration of Black History Month, EdSurge spoke to Hicks about his culturally relevant approach to closing the digital divide.

What sort of challenges do teachers face when incorporating Black history and culturally relevant content into the curriculum? How do you overcome them?

It’s always a matter of time to some degree. For many teachers, especially those in core subjects, the focus is often on standards and testing. Standards are good for guidance, but they can be paralyzing if they become a checklist. As an electives teacher, I can reach out to the core subject teachers and support them in this effort.

This is where collaboration and project-based learning are vital. Students can get exposure to cultural literacy, while also being elbow deep in the content and standards. The magic of teaching plays such an important part. Content creators will produce things for teachers that can be generic. My duty is to make it personal and relevant for my students.

How does Applied Digital Skills help you achieve your goals as a teacher focused on culturally relevant instruction?

Ultimately, it’s about closing the gap for all students. Students of all backgrounds need to function and succeed in the digital, global community. Google dedicated themselves to creating a curriculum that uses different applications and helps students gain different skill sets. They did their job, and I need to do my job as a facilitator in order to maximize the learning.

Read the full article about how digital skills can promote cultural literacy by Michael Niehoff at EdSurge.