Mijares: Hour of Code campaign offers students an introduction to computer science

From the Desk of Dr. Al Mijares, Orange County Superintendent of Schools


With new technologies emerging at an unprecedented rate, it should come as no surprise that computer science jobs are surging. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2020 there will be a million more computer science positions than graduates qualified to fill them.

Al MijaresAt the same time, a recent Gallup report commissioned by Google suggests that educational opportunities in this field have been inconsistent, and entrenched stereotypes might be discouraging girls and some minority groups from participating.

So what can be done at the local level? We can start by raising awareness and promoting engaging learning experiences like Hour of Code.

For those who haven’t heard of this campaign, the Hour of Code offers a global introduction to computer science with one simple call to action: It asks every single student and as many adults as possible to write code for one hour during the week of Dec. 7.

Code is the backend text that programmers write to tell computers what to do. Writing code may sound intimidating, but it isn’t as daunting or arcane as many believe — and that’s really the point. The Hour of Code website offers self-guided activities and features tutorials, a how-to guide and options for all levels of experience and age, from kindergarten and up.

social-1“The Hour of Code is designed to demystify code and show that computer science is not rocket science, anybody can learn the basics,” says Hadi Partovi, founder and CEO of Code.org. “Over 100 million students worldwide have tried an Hour of Code. The demand for relevant 21st-century computer science education crosses all borders and knows no boundaries.”

Sure enough, computer science isn’t just for those who will pursue computing jobs; it serves as a foundation for college and career readiness by promoting problem-solving skills, logic and creativity. That is why I’m eager to personally take part by writing my first line of code in December, and I would encourage teachers, students, administrators, parents and support staff throughout Orange County to do the same.

Last year, Apple Stores around the world hosted an Hour of Code event, and many districts and schools participated locally. This year the Orange County Department of Education is pursuing even greater numbers to contribute to the largest learning event in history. You can help by participating, spreading the word, hosting an hour of coding or encouraging your local school to sign up.

By demonstrating that anyone can learn the basics of computer science, we open doors and shatter barriers. More important, we empower students to write their own codes and scripts for college and career readiness and success.

If you’d like more information on how to get involved with the Hour of Code campaign at the local level, contact OCDE Instructional Services Coordinator Alisa McCord at amccord@ocde.us or 714-327-1063.