Guest post by Anthony Salcito, Vice President of Worldwide Education
It's Computer Science Education Week, and through Microsoft YouthSpark, we're celebrating as a lead supporter of the Hour of Code… one of the largest learning events giving more than 100 million students around the world their first taste of computer science and software engineering.
Why – when teachers and administrators are already tasked with never-ending to-dos – is introducing computer science for one hour a big deal? By starting early, students will learn what's possible when it comes to creating – not just using – technology and they'll also learn foundational skills that are needed for success in any 21st-century career path.
While one hour may not seem like a lot of time, it can be challenging for busy teachers and students to fit that hour into any given day. Together with Code.org we're excited to share that students and educators can take advantage of engaging, easy-to-use materials and tutorials translated into more than 30 different languages to help them get their start today.
"Out of the millions of people who will try the Hour of Code, we know there will be people who just 'get it,'" says Doug Bergman, a computer science teacher at Porter-Gaud School in Charleston, South Carolina. "As they move through the tutorials, [students] will find that it makes sense to them, and they are even able to do some of the challenges without help." Berman adds, "[Students will be] able to take the ideas in their head and bring them into something tangible on the screen in front of them. And those people may reconsider computer science as an area they want to explore. Maybe they take a class, read a book, or just make a realization that computer science is not what they thought and their conversations around that topic are now different."
There are many Hour of Code tutorials available for schools and one was developed with TouchDevelop, created by Microsoft Research. TouchDevelop is a free coding tool designed for students – and teachers – with no prior computer science knowledge to learn the basics and gain hands-on experience. In the Microsoft tutorial for Hour of Code, students will be able to fix a fun and simple game that challenges players to guide a robot through a maze of obstacles. I encourage you to check out all of the tutorials including Microsoft's tools, details on how we're supporting computer science education this week and all year… and how others around Microsoft are inspiring students to get their start this week.
Just one hour. That's all it takes to get a student excited about computer science.
The Hour of Code is just the beginning! In 2015, LeX and IT Academy teams will be rolling out additional resources for introducing computer science to students around the world. IT Academy member schools will be able to take advantage of new curriculum, hands-on exercises and online courses available. And the IT Academy will be unveiling a new introductory programming course with Python. Stay tuned!