Collaboration in An Hour of Code

I’m thrilled to participate in this week’s “An Hour of Code,” that is taking place as part of the annual “Computer Science Education Week.” “CSEd week” is celebrated each year in honor of programming pioneer, “Amazing” Grace Hopper. This year’s events speak volumes to the benefits that private and public sector collaboration can have across the spectrum of learning, and how that in turn can positively impact on the workplace.

An Hour of Code is the brain child of Hadi Partovi, co-founder and CEO of Code.org, an organization dedicated to expanding computer science education by making it more available in the schools.

To date, 58,275,865 people (including me!) have tried An Hour of Code, with 77,213 Hour of Code Events around the world in over 180 countries. Tutorials are available in over 30 languages, with resources provided for teachers to expand on the activities themselves.

A Collaborative Effort

This effort has received the endorsement and participation of Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Sal Khan, President Obama (and pols from both sides of the aisle), Arne Duncan, and a host of other corporate partners and supporters.

The actual Hour of Code activities are exercises that can be done in class or at home to learn the basics of coding. There are simple block (drag and drop) coding exercises, and more sophisticated JavaScript activities. Themes include Angry Birds and Anna and Elsa from the ever popular “Frozen” and more.

To expand the reach of the event, organizers have included exercises that can be done without a computer, including on smart phones and pen and paper.

To motivate schools to get involved, prizes including the following have been offered:

  1. A class trip to D.C. to participate in a “top-secret” hour of code.

  2. 10 GB free Dropbox storage for every educator hosting an Hour of Code.

  3. Free laptops for 51 schools

  4. 100 classrooms to have video chats with “tech titans and tech-loving celebrities.”

  5. Set of programmable robots for 100 classrooms.

To motivate schools to stay involved, follow-on courses have been developed and prizes including gift cards for Skype or a variety of online stores are being offered.

Corporate support includes Amazon, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Teach for America, Khan Academy and many others.

Shared Goals; Everyone Benefits

What’s most exciting about this event is the shared mindset that has brought together all these different parties. Partovi’s initial comments regarding the project noted that this was the right thing to do, “the gift that the tech industry owes America.”

But behind the very pragmatic goals of job creation and boosting the economy are those very first steps that all these different sectors have joined together to support:

  1. The building of problem solving and critical thinking skills;

  2. Reasoning the way code teaches in a way that is fundamental across industries;

  3. “Trying to help the next generation navigate the modern world by understanding the technologies around them.” (Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn)

We applaud the collaboration that brought all these folks together to help expand everyone’s knowledge about the fundamental technologies governing all aspects of our lives today and to better prepare the next generation to enter an increasingly complex workplace.

I think it’s a lesson that “students” of all ages can benefit from. Go ahead and try it!

Visit us at Designs2Learn to learn more about our perspective on technology and education and how we can help you use learning design for positive social impact.

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© 2017 by Sheri Handel