This week is a very special week in the United States and the world: everyone is invited to try what computer science is all about. Five million students in 33,000 classrooms in 167 countries are participating in the Hour of Code, as part of America's 4th Annual Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek). It is an annual week-long program dedicated to inspiring K-12 students to take interest in computer science. It was scheduled to coincide with Admiral Grace Hopper's birthday, a visionary computer scientist born on December 9, 1906. CSEdWeek was first recognized in 2010 when the 111th Congress passed House Resolution 1560 to raise awareness about the impact of computing innovation on economic growth, as well as the need to bolster computer science education at all levels.
CSEdWeek started by a coalition called Computing in the Core as a major awareness-building activity. Founded by NCWIT, ACM, CRA, and CSTA the coalition's activities includes a) impacting federal policy, b) "Making CS Count" in every state (getting CS into high schools), and c) CS-related community activities. They also work with NSF on their CS Principles project with the College Board. In the spring of 2013, the coalition decided that CSEdWeek would feature Hour of Code (but other organizations and individuals are free to do other things) and that Code.org would produce and run CSEdWeek this year.
Over a 100 programs have launched in the past ten years, and recently, The Kapor Center for Social Impact, published a report Coding Nation reviewing coding and computer science education programs. Still, 75 percent of America's schools DO NOT offer computing education, according to a recent NCWIT Report.
Code.org, a new non-profit dedicated to expanding computer science education, believes that computer science should be part of the core curriculum in every school alongside other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses, such as biology, physics, chemistry and algebra. Hour of Code is code.org's IP, brilliantly created to give students a taste of coding, hoping they will fall in love with the act of using programming languages and tools to communicate ideas and concepts.
In the past 6 months, Code.org's Founder and CEO, Hadi Partovi (@hadip), has gathered tremendous support from leaders in the technology world, with more than 100 partners including chief executives from Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Disney and others (my little self and my @Globaloria organization included).
To help kick things off this week, President Obama issued a video statement to encourage students to participate. President Obama Calls On Every American to Learn Code:
President Obama said in his video statement:
"Don't just buy a new video game, make one. Don't just download the latest app, help design it. Don't just play on your phone, program it... and do not let anyone tell you 'you can't.'"
I strongly second President Obama's call to action, "Don't just buy a new video game, make one." Since my PhD at MIT in the 80's it has been my research, my books, my blogs, and my life's entrepreneurial mission. You read my blog posts and heard me say this before Make Coding Mandatory!:
"Access to computing and mastering computational tools and professional software development and game production practices is not only empowering learners, but also a great way to learn how to learn -- anything. It is a necessity for participatory citizenship, economic prosperity and livelihood; access to computing education is a basic human right."
A fantastic model for all America's cities and communities has emerged in my beloved NYC this past year. Chancellor Wolcott announced a $1M program to train over 100 teachers on how to integrate computing in their teachings. It's driven by the NYC Foundation for Computer Science Education (CSNYC) led by my friends Fred Wilson and NYU's Evan Korth, in partnership with NYC EDC and NYC DoE. They 've been identifying schools and change-making educators, and funding CS programs in NYC schools through crowdrise fundraising.
We must all support and ride this incredible momentum to inspire and encourage ALL kids and youth to try some of these programming languages and tools and professional practices. Doing computer science fun and engaging, and most importantly, it's good for kids' brain development and learning habits too!
This week, we are all invited to learn about what most schools don't teach in a country that is considered the hub of technology innovation:
Computing in the Core, the coalition the invented CSEdWeek in 2010, is a non-partisan advocacy coalition of associations, corporations, scientific societies, and other non-profits, including National Center for Women in IT, seeking to elevate the national profile of computer science education in K-12 within the US and work toward ensuring that computer science is one of the core academic subjects in K-12 education.
Code.org is a non-profit dedicated to expanding computer science education. The Code.org vision is that computer science should be part of the core curriculum in every school.
Since 2006, Globaloria sparks students' imaginations, creativity, and computing innovation as they learn, step-by-step, how to design and program their own educational games and simulations through a suite of courses blending teacher-led instruction, team-based learning and online networking with experts and peers. Globaloria's mission is three-fold: 1) To engage millions of students in computational learning for mastering the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in school, college and careers in the global innovation economy; 2) To empower educators and school systems by enhancing their 21st-century capabilities and CS-STEM learning and teaching opportunities: 3) To power up classrooms and turn them into networked design studios that motivate students to work harder and dig deeper into content and complex computer science projects. Globaloria generated to date 55 research studies about its impact on students computational learning, digital literacy, and academic success, and is aligned with state and national standards, such as Common Core, CSTA, ISTE, and NGSS. Join us in our mission to provide the Globaloria learning opportunity to 1000 schools by 2015.