Hour of Code Drive Continues to Spread Across Globe
It sounds ambitious because it is. The Hour of Code movement begun by Code.org seeks to spread information about coding across the world, and it has been successful by any measure. It has reached more than 100 million students in excess of 180 countries. More than 400 partners and 200,000 educators help support the campaign.
Among companies involved in the effort are Accenture, a global professional services company. It recently pledged to provide more than 10,000 hours of introduction to coding.
Code.org’s John Lanthier explains that Hour of Code originally was designed to be an hour-long introduction to computer science. The purpose of the campaign was to increase understanding about coding and spark interest and participation in computer science. It is now a worldwide effort with tutorials in more than 45 languages.
Accenture’s commitment to coding
Lynn McMahon, Accenture’s managing director for the New York metro area, tells GoodCall that coding literacy is crucial to success – and not just in the Information Technology sector. “At Accenture, we believe that every business is a digital business, and software – or code – is the foundation and fuel of digital business.”
McMahon says this is the second consecutive year that Accenture has teamed with Code.org’s global program and believes that these types of campaigns are essential to preparing the workforce of the future. “Accenture leverages its global workforce, technology skills, and diversity of talent to mentor students in computer science, with a special focus on expanding STEM education to females and underserved students of color,” McMahon says.
Some experts reject the notion that every kid should learn to code, saying students should explore various opportunities in math, science, and other fields. Others contend that the technical skills change often. Regardless, with backers such as General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt, the pro-coding movement seems to be gaining momentum.
Accenture decided this year to donate $500,000 in pro bono services to Hour of Code. “Our senior leaders and employees around the world completed more than 10,000 Hours of Code activities in more than 200 cities across 55 countries,” McMahon explains. “This includes more than 2,000 hours pledged by Accenture employees to lead local events or volunteer at schools in their communities by working with teachers and Code.org to help students learn the basics of coding through game-like online lessons that inspire students to continue learning.”
Touro College helps to bridge the gap
New York-based Touro College is another organization that believes in the mission of Hour of Code. Shmuel Fink, chair of the M.S. in information systems at the Touro College Graduate School of Technology, tells GoodCall that last year he ran Hour of Code programs that reached roughly 240 students in the 4th through 12th grades.
Fink believes that it is important to expose kids to computer science skills as soon as possible. “Most kids know what doctors, policemen, plumbers, and so on do, but they have no idea what computer scientists do.” And while kids like using computers, Fink says they have no idea how computer software is developed. “For children who are intrigued by technology and interested in considering the possibility of a career in programming, it is crucial that they be exposed to computer science skills.”
To critics who say children shouldn’t be exposed to coding until later, Fink warns, “If students wait until they’re 18 to begin thinking about it, they’ll have lost many valuable years if they decide they want to do it – and they’ll waste valuable time in college trying it out, if they decide they don’t like it.”
Even if students don’t pursue a career in technology, Fink says learning computer science skills will help them:
- Work more efficiently in programs like Excel, Access, Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects
- Sharpen their ability to troubleshot and solve problems
- Become more proficient at using a computer
- Be able to more effectively communicate with their employer’s IT department
- Gain skills they can put on their resume that are valued by employers in all disciplines
Getting involved with Hour of Code
Hour of Code has many major partners and corporate sponsors, including Apple, Amazon, Disney, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. Lanthier says it’s relatively easy for anyone to get involved with Hour of Code.
Students and teachers can organize events at their schools or in their clubs. Employees, and organizations can organize events at work or in their communities. And parents can also choose to do an Hour of Code with their own kids. There’s also a how-to guide on Code.org’s website and tutorials for all grade levels.