What are the best ways to prepare kids to learn how to code? Code.org has a solution that they are sharing with over 2 million students next year in schools across the country.
The Seattle-based non profit gained national attention this past year with their popular “Hour of Code”. Anyone is able to go to their website and learn the basics of coding in a fun and engaging way. This has been a very popular activity for children, but anyone can learn it. This next project they have planned will take students to the next step – beyo9nd “Hour of Code” and into some real world designing..
Now they have announced the roll out of their computer science education course for students in K-12. This will reach over 2 million students in 30 districts around the country – about 5% of the student population!
Code.org will provide curriculum and professional development and mentor teachers. Participating districts will teach Code.org’s free courses in elementary, middle and high schools.
To help prepare teachers, Code.org hired about 20 contract workers who will travel to districts and provide workshops during the summer. It also has 23 full-time employees in Seattle.
The initial effort will cost about $1 million, which is being funded in part by donations from a who’s who of the tech industry and companies such as Microsoft, Google and LinkedIn.
The rollout is partly a test of Code.org’s approach. Computer science has been taught on a smaller scale in various schools, but Code.org is trying to develop a system that can be scaled up to serve the entire country in a cost-effective way.
“Our next step is to prove ourselves out with this initial rollout,” said Code.org Chief Executive Hadi Partovi, a former Microsoft manager turned startup investor.
The announcement comes just ahead of a keynote speech Partovi is delivering Thursday at a Washington, D.C., conference hosted by U.S. News & World Report on science, technology, engineering and math education and workforce preparedness.
Code.org has been lobbying for more support for computer-science education, which it hopes to see in every school in the country. That coverage would cost around $300 million to $400 million, Partovi said, and require public as well as private funding.
Code.org is intentionally partnering with a mix of districts — coastal and central, right and left leaning — “to show that this is something for every American,” Partovi said.
Simultaneously, Code.org has been pressing states to change their education requirements so that students studying computer science receive credit toward graduation, comparable to the credit given for studying math and other sciences. Partovi expects that by mid-summer, 76 percent of the country will have education laws recognizing computer science, up from 22 percent when Partovi and his brother, Ali, launched Code.org last year.
Participating school districts include three of the nation’s 10 largest and extend from Bremerton to Broward County, Fla.
“This is a transformative moment for public education, where we must develop the ability of our students to learn new things and apply their understanding to solve real world problems. Computer science brings all of this together for us,” Broward County Public Schools Superintendant Robert Runcie said in a release.