The Hour of Code

Computer technology has been around for as long as this generation can remember. Although many use a computer on a daily basis, only a few actually know how to program one. Many people, including US President Obama, believe that for a promising future the world needs programmers, not just users.

The Hour of Code

The Hour of Code is an introductory tutorial to Computer Science that lasts for an hour. The one-hour coding tutorial may be divided into multiple sessions or extend beyond an hour. With the belief that every student should have an opportunity to learn Computer Science, the Code.org founder started organizing the Hour of Code. It is held annually as part of the Computer Science Education Week celebration. The idea is to encourage people to host an Hour of Code to show that anyone can learn the basics of Computer Science. Among other aims, the Hour of Code wants to increase the participation of women and students of color, who are typically underrepresented.

Coding in the Past

In the past, the built-in BASIC language (Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) in computers was used in programming. The students simply typed codes that the computer would follow. Some of the popular commands used were PRINT, CLS, and END. However, as time passed, individuals become more interested in using computers and other gadgets for leisure rather than learning how to program them.

Hadi Partovi launched the Hour of Code. This is after the Code.org founder realized that there are plenty of opportunities that come from learning about technology. Partovi points out that in recent years, the number of students who graduate with a degree in Computer Science has declined. He finds this fact ironic considering that computers have become an indispensable tool of modern life.

Importance of Coding in the Present

Partovi decided to promote Computer Science to K-12, where students are so open and enthusiastic about new knowledge. Individuals cannot be mere users of technology if the world is to advance. There must be people who understand how it works and are skilled in creating new technologies for the future. Moreover, for Partovi, appreciation of technology is vital because it affects other fields that are necessary to man’s survival, such as medicine, transportation, energy, and entertainment. Coding, then, is a stepping stone toward being employed in significant industries.

Learning Computer Science is useful as it helps develop logic, creativity, and problem-solving skills. Teaching Computer Science to students is equivalent to nurturing these skills in them. It provides an avenue for discovery and experiential learning, which is totally different from the typical classroom approach.

How It Works

Self-guided coding tutorials are available for the Hour of Code. Amazingly, these tutorials come in various types. People can choose based on the students’ age and appropriate experience-level. Several programming languages are available for young children. These are designed to be simple and easy to follow, especially for early learners. For instance, LightBot is targeted at students who are nine years old and above or are in grades 4 to 8. The programming logic is taught to students through puzzles. Another example is Scratch Junior, which caters to kids 5 to 7 years old. It teaches coding to kids by allowing them to create their own fun stories and games. There are also teacher-led lesson plans for advocates who want to participate and host their own Hour of Code.

Indeed, programming is needed if new applications are to be developed in the future. Getting students to be interested in it at the earliest possible time is a brilliant idea.

Maria Dublin
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Maria is a writer, an editor, and a law student. She plays for the Philippine national touch football team, and does a lot of travelling during the holidays.