Some big names in technology, such as Google and Microsoft, are joining together with Code.org, a non-profit, to raise money to introduce 100 million students to coding, reports Jacob Kastrenakes of TheVerge.
Code.org plans to bring its computer science courses into tens of thousands of new classrooms during the next year, which, it says, will cost $5 million. The company hopes to get half of that sum by crowdfunding on Indiegogo and the other half from dollar-for-dollar matching provided by tech companies and individuals including Bill Gates and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman.
Code.org is focusing on promoting its Hour of Code program, an hour-long tutorial which introduces basic coding to students. It wants to reach the 90% of schools that do not already offer computer science courses, a skill that is becoming evermore valuable when searching for a job. There are no geographical, grade level, or gender barriers involved in the Hour of Code program.
The Seattle-based non-profit's Hour of Code program has already exposed more than 44 million students to coding. Over 29 companies have partnered with Code.org on the campaign which is the largest non-profit crowdfunding project in Indiegogo history, writes Taylor Soper in an article for GeekWire. Seattle-based businesses Zulily, Redfin, Zillow, and Whitepages are also participants in the campaign.
Brothers Hadi and Ali Partovi started Code.org last year to offer free online learning courses to stimulate participation in computer science. The brothers hope to raise $5 million by the end of Computer Science Week on Dec.14 and reach 100 million students by the end of 2014.
This effort is based on released data from many tech companies which showed their work forces are heavily male, white, and Asian, writes Jeff Elder writing for the Wall Street Journal.
Stanford University lecturer Jay Borenstein, who founded Facebook's college-age Open Academy education project, said the larger effort for Code.org is a positive sign. "It's a societal challenge to make sure access to computer science education is there for everyone," he said.
Other companies taking part in the campaign include Disney, Dropbox, Eventbrite, GoDaddy, Target, and Yelp.
Big names in technology said the campaign is important for the future American workforce. "In the 21st century, learning computer science is as foundational to a student's education as learning biology, chemistry, or physics," said Satya Nadella, chief executive of Microsoft in a statement.
In July, Google became concerned that 17% of it tech employees were women, 1% were African American, and 2% were Hispanic. The company reacted by rolling out a new initiative which would pay women and minorities in the tech industry for three months of continuing education. Google also partnered with Code School and made the announcement at its third annual women techmakers panel which focused on women working on robotics projects at Google.
France is also interested in teaching students, both girls and boys at an early age, basic programming skills. The French Minister of National Education, Benoit Hamon said that programming courses would begin this school year.
While the traditional skills of reading, writing, and maths remain a priority, "schools cannot ignore the importance of digital", Harmon told the paper. "The question is no longer about whether children need to learn about IT and programming, but about how, in what circumstances, and at what stage of the curriculum they should do so," he said.