Apple, Google and Microsoft agree: Take an hour this week to start coding

codeThere’s no doubt that the shortage of engineers is a problem in the U.S., and especially for companies struggling to hire those versed in science and math.

So it makes sense why people like President Barack Obama and companies like Microsoft, Google and Apple are getting behind the Computer Science Education Week, which kicks off today and runs through Sunday.

This year the campaign is getting a huge boost from Code.org, a non-profit founded by brothers and tech entrepreneurs Ali and Hadi Partovi. The organization, based in the Seattle region, is promoting a $1 million “Hour of Code,” project to push computer science education in schools across the country and encourage students to spend at least one hour coding this week.

Hundreds are supporting the cause, from celebrities to huge tech giants — including competing rivals. Apple and Microsoft Stores are offering up free tutorial classes this week, while companies like Google, Disney and Yahoo will feature Hour of Code on their home pages.

“When would you imagine Apple promoting tools built by Google with the face of Bill Gates?” Ali Partovi told AllThingsD.

Here’s President Obama’s message:

Here in Washington, several schools are participating. For example, Bellevue’s Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart partnered with Seattle-based Code Fellows to help educate students in computer literacy for two days this week.

Code.org co-founder Hadi Partovi speaks at the 2013 GeekWire Summit.

Code.org co-founder Hadi Partovi speaks at the 2013 GeekWire Summit.

However, it seems as though primary school students may have trouble grasping this week’s message. Over on the Code.org forums, two teachers said they showed this “Hour of Code” promotional video featuring Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg to younger kids, who didn’t exactly understand what was going on.

“I feel like I have to explain everything said in the video to the kids,” one teacher said. “My third graders and picking up on some of it but the younger ones are completely lost.”

“I think it would be great to have a video next year which is aimed at younger students and what they can DO with coding in terms of cool stuff,” another added. “They just don’t understand the relevance of the video, they haven’t used Facebook or many of the other sites mentioned, they have no idea who Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg are, and they don’t yet care about careers. They do understand robotics, spacecraft, smart cars, video games, etc.”

Here’s Hadi Partovi talking about Code.org and the computer science education crisis in the U.S. at the 2013 GeekWire Summit:

  • Robin

    Tech companies are starting to bring jobs back from India. They need the American workers to be ready for it. Software company brings hi-tech jobs back to USA

  • Batman

    I’m amazed at how much cooperation is going on here. This really is something everyone can agree on

  • baldrick98007

    Start by teaching people about computer science .. not coding. Teaching people to code without first teaching them the fundamentals of how a computer works, is akin to teaching people to read and write without first teaching them the alphabet. (Or perhaps a better example – teaching algebra without teaching basic arithmetic.) No wonder the students don’t get it.
    There is so much more to computer software than simply coding. In fact a typical application lifecycle only spends about 20% of its time in the coding phase.

    I started by learning about the basic components of a computer, Motherboard, CPU, Input, Output, Storage and RAM. Now you can teach how to program those components. Add networking to that picture. Now you can teach about communication over the internet (and LAN).

    Anyone who doesn’t understand the difference between code and software is not an ideal candidate for promoting computer technology – Bill Gates included.