By Jeff Bullwinkel, Associate General Counsel and Director of Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft Asia Pacific & Japan
Did you know that an average person today has access to more computing power in their back pocket than NASA had when they first put two men on the moon in 1969?
But the Digital Age is not just about sleek gadgets. Technology has the power to accelerate the social changes that we have dreamt about. In fact, the World Economic Forum reports that a 10 percent increase in Internet penetration leads to about one percent of sustainable GDP growth. Technology is redefining livelihoods and lives, especially in underdeveloped regions.
It is not enough to be consumers of technology: those who can harness technology to create, stand to extract the greatest value. At Microsoft, we believe that every young person should be given equal access to computer science, and hope that some of them will go on to be changemakers producing value in their communities. That is why we have been running the global Hour of Code campaign to advocate computer science education.
2015 not only marked the third year of our effort to encourage coding literacy, it also saw a record jump of 70 percent in the number of participating Asian countries over the previous year. The Hour of Code 2015 kicked off in Malaysia on 7 December and cascaded across the region, attracting more than 230,000 youth from all walks of life to learn coding—many for the first time in their lives—before coming to a close with a bang on 13 December in South Korea.
Check out the key highlights from each country!
In conjunction with the Boys’ and Girls’ Brigades, 12 events were held in Sydney and Melbourne, which saw 300 youth learning how to code. Other Hour of Code events also took place at Sydney’s Microsoft Store.
The biggest coding event in Brunei saw children as young as five years old participating in the Hour of Code session. It even featured a ‘Build Your Own Minecraft Character’ corner and a Minecraft Showcase.
A whopping 83,000 students from 875 schools gathered for Hour of Code events across the world’s largest country, spanning major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shaoshan, Shenzen and Suzhou.
Major local nonprofit partners worked with Microsoft India to conduct events across the country in areas such as Delhi, Kashmir, West Bengal and Gujarat, which were attended by about 7,000 young people.
Over 10,000 youth across the country signed up for the Minecraft workshops. This coincided with the 70th anniversary celebration of the National Teachers’ Association on 13 December, where the Hour of Code trailer video was shared with the association and the attending 115,000 teachers from 33 provinces.
With events in eight cities, 420 students, including children at orphanages, were reached. Nonprofit partners who joined the collaboration were: Living Dreams, Canvas, Kids’ Doors, Sodateage Net, e-parts, and Minna-no-code (or Code.org Japan).
As part of kick-starting the Hour of Code 2015 campaign in Asia, Microsoft Malaysia participated in the 1 ASEAN Enterprise Summit (1AES), where the team had the chance to witness the landmark announcement that coding will be added to the national primary curriculum this year. Some 25,000 youth also attended over 240 coding workshops held in universities, nonprofits, and even a prison school.
Around 10,512 students took part in 158 Hour of Code events held in 93 schools and colleges across Nepal, including cities like Birgunj, Butwal, Chitwan, Kathmandu, and Pokhara, with help from more than 100 volunteers, including Microsoft Student Partners (MSPs) and Innovative Student Partners (ISPs) of K-12 schools.
Microsoft partnered with three nonprofits, OMG Tech!, Code Club Aotearoa, and the High Tech Youth Network, to host coding workshops across the country. At one such session, the Minister of ACC, Civil Defence and Youth, Nikki Kaye, tried her hand at virtual ‘sheep shearing’ as part of the Minecraft tutorial!
During the week, 16 MSPs led Hour of Code events for about 1,880 students at 11 schools in cities such as Bacoor, Las Pinas, and Quezon City. The efforts included partnerships with the Philippine Institute for the Deaf and the Luta Norte Elementary School on workshops for adults and children with special needs ranging from developmental to cognitive disabilities.
The events had a reach of over 1,000 participants across a multitude of schools—be it government, private or international—where workshops on Minecraft, Kodu, and Touch Develop were held at the Science Centre Singapore. But the students weren’t the only one who sat through the Hour of Code; Microsoft Singapore employees also participated in the coding session during the week!
Over 10,000 children across 57 cities took part in online and offline Hour of Code events, including those organised by 573 participating schools. Some 78 Microsoft staff members also learned to code alongside their children.
The largest event held in Sri Lanka on 7 December was a coding workshop at the office of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, where 100 youth from all over the country gathered in Colombo. Throughout the week, MSPs had led 50 well-attended coding sessions in rural areas.
With a broad focus on youth, young women and senior citizens, the activities held was of a wide repertoire, drawing over 2,500 participants. For instance, two Microsoft women engineers Flora Chen and Ching Chen, and Yahoo Asia SVP Rose Tsou, shared insights on coding at the ‘Coding Angels’ workshop. Other activities included workshops for children of new immigrants, as well as the setting up of a digital centre at National Ilan University for underprivileged children to access digital learning.
The campaign reached 30,000 students from 100 schools, with an extra dose of laughter from local comedians sprouting amusing running commentaries during Minecraft coding workshops and HoloLens demonstrations. Coding workshops will continue throughout 2016 with the Ministry of Science and Technology and local nonprofit, Change Fusion, for youth, educators, and nonprofit workers.
120 schools in Ho Chi Minh City, Thai Nguyen, and Hanoi, joined the Hour of Code campaign in Vietnam, reaching over 50,000 students! Training sessions were also held for 150 teachers to help them master the basics of coding.