aims to introduce more than 10M students to computer programming wants to bring basic computer programming education to students of all ages.


SAN FRANCISCO---Regardless of where critics might stand on either side of the STEM jobs gap debate, is making it its mission to bring basic computer programming education to students of all ages.

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The non-profit foundation has unveiled a new initiative, dubbed the "Hour of Code," with the goal of demystifying computer science education for more than 10 million students worldwide by taking them through an hour-long introduction to computer programming.

During a press conference on Monday afternoon, CEO and co-founder Hadi Partovi described the global campaign as the organization's first step in establishing computer science as a fundamental field in education.

"I firmly believe that bringing computer science education to every student is the gift that the tech industry owes America," Partovi remarked.

LinkedIn's executive chairman Reid Hoffman concurred, positing that teaching computer science skills are applicable to all facets of life beyond just tech. He added that all industries are being touched the information revolution.

Now approximately one year old,'s mantra is that computer science should be part of the core curriculum at schools across the United States, holding the same prominence as courses like biology and algebra.

Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith suggested during a panel discussion that computer science is the 21st century is what physics was to the 20th century.

However, Smith admitted we have a long way to go to make computer science available to every student across the country.'s mission would also aim to fill what is routinely referred to as the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) gap in the job market, or the argument at there aren't enough skilled workers in today's job market to fulfill these roles.

Maggie Johnson, director of education and university relations at Google, commented that there is currently "way more demand that supply" in this regard, predicting that there still won't be enough qualified job applicants for the next 10 to 15 years.

Hinting at a possible chicken-and-egg scenario, Partovi chimed in that there is also a shortage of computer science teachers, stressing that the Hour of Code program is open to educators as well.

Designed to work on any PC, tablet or smartphone, Partovi explained that these tutorials will instruct students and teachers alike the basics of coding with a game-like feel -- so much so that the programs will even feature artwork from Angry Birds and other popular gaming titles.

Some of the famous politicians and innovators that have lent their names to back include former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, and Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.

"I firmly believe that bringing computer science education to every student is the gift that the tech industry owes America," Partovi remarked.

There will also be a number of prizes up for grabs, starting with 10GB of free Dropbox storage space to the first 100,000 participating educators. The program will also raffle off a full classroom set of laptops for free to one participating school in each state.

Additionally, 50 classrooms will win video chats with the likes of Gates, Square CEO Jack Dorsey, Google SVP Susan Wojcicki, and Gabe Newell, co-founder of online distribution company Valve Corporation.

Finally, students who take a follow-on course online will have a chance to win Skype credits or online gift cards.

The Hour of Code project will last the duration of Computer Science Education week this December 9-15.

Topics: Government, Social Enterprise, Tech Industry, Developer


Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider,, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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