Disclosure: This post about the Importance of Computer Science and Coding was brought to you by Microsoft Canada and as such, I was compensated but as always my opinion is my own.
We live in a digital age. A time when most of our lives have been made easier by the influx of technology. Where things like tablets, smartphones, smart TVs and devices are part of our everyday. I remember when I was growing up, my very first computer was a Commodore 64. I learned to write code in basic and I could get the computer to do simple tasks like printing out what is your name on the screen. A lot has changed since I was a young girl but one thing that never has was the need for learning about the computing world. Although it was in its infancy when I was young, it has by far become a major part of life as we know it.
My son, Zach, is an amazingly smart kid with the ability to see things in ways I could only imagine. He has been struggling the last year or so with writing and just getting his thoughts out. I always wondered why he loves technology so much and now I know it’s because when he is using devices, it makes his struggles less of an unmanageable task. You see Zach was diagnosed with Tourettes and also struggles with getting his thoughts out on paper. He is incredibly smart but can’t put all of those thoughts to paper as writing tends to make his hands weak and get fatigued easily. The great thing about the age we live in is that now Zach has the technology to make his work easier and more manageable.
When I was asked if I wanted to attend an Hour of Code class, I knew that it was the perfect place for Zach to learn and be in his element and I will tell you he was so excited. When we arrived we were greeted by Diviyan and taken to the back of the Microsoft store where the magic began. Not only do they make this fun for the kids by incorporating the ever-popular Minecraft game, they also enlisted some pretty heavy duty Youtubers to help make the Hour of Code fun, entertaining and something kids really want to pay attention to. Also, something I really loved was that most of the people in the video portion were women which I thought was so great.
Zach started the challenges and finished all 12 in less than an hour. His skill for coming up with the right code absolutely amazed me, not to mention how quick he was on his feet and the way they teach it makes it so easy for anyone to learn. I even learned a few things just watching him. The great thing about the Hour of Code is that anyone can do it and from December 4-10 you can sign up for one of the coding classes at a Microsoft store and take it for free! Microsoft believes that every young person should have access to the digital skills necessary to participate in a world transformed by technology and that is why they teamed up with Code.org for a third year to support Hour of Code.
Launched in 2013, Code.org® is a non-profit dedicated to expanding access to computer science, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color. Code.org’s vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science. Code.org is the organizer of the annual Hour of Code campaign, which has engaged 10 percent of all K-12 students in the world, and the leading provider of curriculum for K-12 computer science in all of the largest school districts in the country.
I only hope that once I get a chance to talk to the principal at my son’s school, I can convince them to host an Hour of Code at the school for all the kids because I know how important this is to our future and that of our children. Actually, Minecraft: Education Edition is a version of the popular open-world game, Minecraft, specifically designed for education. Available now for purchase by educators around the world, it contains features that make Minecraft more accessible and effective in a classroom setting. By teaching the kids to code using a game they all know and love, makes the learning seem like play.
Anybody can visit code.org/minecraft to access the free tutorial and is playable across iOS, Android and Windows platforms. The activity provides a self-directed immersive learning experience, including all participant instructions, along with guided steps for learning to code. Anyone can learn to code with the Minecraft tutorial, even if he/she is not well versed in Minecraft. The tutorial is designed for anyone age six and up.
Students can play and replay the Minecraft Hour of Code Tutorial on their own and on any device. And beginning this year, Microsoft is making it possible for students who use the tutorial to upload their last level into Minecraft: Education Edition on a Windows 10 PC.
Don’t take my word for it but I think that everyone should sign their kids up and watch them as they learn a valuable skill while having fun, there is no better way to learn than that. Visit Microsoft and learn where and when you can take an Hour of Code.