Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Hack Attack! Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates Teach “Hour of Code” Online Computer Science Class.

With tens of millions of dollars worth of support from all the bigwigs in tech, a new nonprofit called Code.org wants to bring computer science into schools.

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Its first initiative will be a worldwide “Hour of Code” during the second week of December, with materials provided that include coding tutorials from Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates.

Along with Gates and Zuckerberg, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, J.P. Morgan Chase, LinkedIn, Salesforce, Omidyar Network, Reid Hoffman, Jack Dorsey, Drew Houston, Ron Conway and John Doerr are financially backing the nonprofit, which is led by former Microsoft exec and angel investor Hadi Partovi. Apple, Dropbox, Yahoo, Electronic Arts and Zynga are also providing support.

“We want to pull back the veil on this black magic dark art of code that separates you from Mark Zuckerberg,” Partovi said today in an interview at a launch event in San Francisco.

He and twin brother Ali Partovi had released a video this February about the importance of learning how to code that features celebrities including tech CEOs, musician will.i.am and basketball player Chris Bosh. It has been viewed more than 10 million times.

Computer science, added LinkedIn chairman Reid Hoffman in prepared remarks today, teaches “problem solving and critical thinking that’s useful anywhere.”

Sure, more coders means a bigger workforce for Silicon Valley technology companies, but it can be more than that, said Hoffman. Learning the “fundamentals of reasoning” will be transformative for individuals and industries, in the U.S. and elsewhere, he said.

The Hour of Code — and it’s kind of strangely and specifically named, as it is not any particular hour — is to occur during Computer Science Education Week, which coincides with the birthday of computing pioneer Grace Hopper on December 9. It aims to hit 10 million students and will include art from Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies.

Code.org will provide materials appropriate for students of all ages and with all sorts of equipment and Internet connectivity, Partovi said. The goal is for the Hour of Code to inspire some of them to further explore computer science for their education and careers.

Code.org promises a variety of prizes for participants, including free storage from Dropbox, 50 class sets of computers, Skype credits, iTunes gift cards and group video conferences with tech leaders like Jack Dorsey and Susan Wojcicki.

 


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