Today marks the start of Code.org’s Computer Science Education Week, which this year is heavily centered around the Hour of Code, an initiative encouraging people to spend an hour to start learning the basics of computer programming. As a founding member of Code.org, Microsoft is showing its support by renewing its commitment to Kodu and other platforms that make learning code more accessible and encouraging employees to volunteer in local schools to teach the computer scientists of tomorrow.
At Bing, we’re proud of the role that search plays in coding. As any programmer will tell you, creating a complex projects means frequently running up against issues you can’t solve on your own and searching the web to find answers from others who have had similar difficulties. Communities like the Microsoft Developer Networkhave been instrumental in creating a place where people can ask questions and share answers, and Bing’s search index brings all these communities into one place so that coders can find the solutions they need.
But there is an important element to coding that sometimes gets lost in our rush to help people understand the important role that computer science plays in our future. In order to code, you need access to a computer. Bill Gates is famously quoted as setting an early mantra for Microsoft – “a computer on every desk and in every home” – and it is the success of that mission that has contributed to the important role that computers, tablets, phones, and other connected devices now play in our lives.
Not everyone has equal access to computers, however. In a September 2012 study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, one in five teens aged 12-17 reported that they didn’t own a computer. And many schools have struggled with budgets to add computing devices in the classroom, resulting in a “digital divide” that puts students in underfunded areas particularly at risk of falling behind in digital literacy.
That’s why one of the key components of our Bing for Schools program is the ability to donate your Bing Rewards points to bring computers to the K-12 school of your choice. And the math is good: about 60 Bing Rewards users can earn a Surface tablet a month for a school. Add that to our daily digital literacy lessons and the availability of ad-free, safer, more private search in schoolsand you’ve got an emphasis on computer science that goes beyond just this week.
So in all the excitement of #HourofCode, let’s not forget that teaching kids about computer science is more than just learning to code – they need a lifetime of personal exposure to a computing device that allows them to interact with the code they, and everyone else, is writing. Register todayto start using Bing for Schools to donate your Bing Reward points and start narrowing the digital divide.
– Matt Wallaert, Behavioral Psychologist, Bing