Best Practices
February 28, 2013

Nonprofit Encourages Computer Programming in the Classroom

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From iPads and iPods, to Facebook and Twitter, kids today generally use technology with ease. However, while most young people are savvy technology consumers, very few understand the programming and coding that brings their gadgets to life. This phenomenon becomes a problem when you realize that there will be 1 million more coding jobs than there are qualified students within the next ten years.

Enter Code.org, a nonprofit organization founded by twin brothers Hadi and Ali Partovi. Code.org’s mission is to address this growing problem and change the perception of computer programming as a career path. The brothers’ experiences as early investors and advisors at startups such as Facebook and Dropbox helped them appreciate just how deep the IT skills gap is in the United States.

The goal of the venture is to ensure that any student who wants to learn computer programming is given the opportunity to do so. “This field is not even being taught at 9 out of 10 schools,” Hadi notes. In our increasingly tech-driven society, such skills will soon be just as important as math and reading. If children are taught the basics of programming at a young age, both the students and future employers stand to benefit.
Introducing computer science in schools will better prepare students for high-paying technical careers and help to keep these jobs in the United States. “Solving this problem is a $500 billion opportunity,” Hadi added. During ICW's event, Getting to Work: What Students and Employers Need From Higher Education, Microsoft's Bill Kamela noted that the U.S. is only producing 40,000 computer science graduates a year, when the country needs 120,000.

Code.org’s website encourages visitors to add to its national database of schools and other programs that teach computer programming. By raising awareness of existing programs, the Partovis hope to draw attention to otherwise unknown opportunities and show kids that computer science can be easy to learn and—most importantly—enjoyable.

To help them spread this message, the Partovi brothers have recruited two of the biggest names in the business, Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, to appear in a forthcoming online video. The movie, directed by filmmaker Lesley Chilcott (An Inconvenient Truth and Waiting for “Superman”), aims to show young people the opportunities even basic programming skills can provide.

For more information on Code.org or to add a computer programming initiative to the online database, visit their website.

This article appears in ICW's February 2013 newsletter.