If you care at all about technology (and as a reader of this website, you probably do) odds are that back in February you were one of the roughly 12 million people who viewed the video “What Most Schools Don’t Teach,” featuring the likes of Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and the Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh encouraging kids to learn to code. The launch of the video, directed by Lesley Chilcott (An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for Superman), also marked the launch of Code.org, a website with resources for students and teachers who are curious about coding and want to teach themselves. Both the video and the site were productions of Silicon Valley investor Hadi Partovi, a former Microsoft employee and advisor to Zuckerberg in Facebook’s early days.
Eight months later, Code.org has grown from a mere website to a national network of advocates and educators dedicated to bringing computer science to every school in the country.
At a press conference this afternoon, Partovi revealed a list of the organization’s principle backers, which includes Gates, Zuckerberg, and Reid Hoffman, as well as Microsoft, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, and others. Code.org has also entered a long-term partnership with the National Science Foundation, through which they will share the results of curriculum evaluations and educational research and work together to develop two new courses for high school-level computer science scholars.
Most significant, however, may have been Partovi’s third announcement: the Hour of Code campaign, part of Computer Science Education Week, an annual celebration that Partovi hopes this year to turn into a national movement. Code.org and its partner in Computer Science Education Week, a group called Computing in the Core, will publish hour-long coding tutorials on a variety of platforms, from desktop to Xbox, and even an offline tutorial, and encourage student teachers to put aside their regular lessons for the day–be they in trigonometry or civics or French–and give their students an hour of code. The goal, Parotvi says, is to “remove the veil that separates regular people from the Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerbergs of the world,” and ultimately, to teach 10 million people how to code.
Dropbox and Skype have each pledged to provide $10 gift certificates to students who complete the tutorial, and Teach for America, Boys & Girls Club, the Girl Scouts, and the College Board have all committed to spread the word to their constituencies.
Computer Science Education Week begins December 9.