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Microsoft hosts 50 hours of code sessions

Blairgowrie Primary School participated in a two-hour coding session with Microsoft representatives.

Blairgowrie Primary School participated in a two-hour coding session with Microsoft representatives.

This week SA joins millions of people around the world in learning or teaching an hour of code during Computer Science Education Week, which ends on 11 December.

Now in its fourth year, Hour of Code is a global participation programme organised by Code.org, designed to demystify code and encourage more students and teachers to learn the basics of computer science.

According to Code.org, computer science remains one of the most exciting, transformative and lucrative careers for the youth to embark upon, but is still underrepresented in terms of race and female developers. Code.org is an NGO on a mission to change this through this annual global campaign through which the company partners with organisations around the globe in an effort to expand access to computer science to women and underrepresented minorities.

Microsoft has partnered with Code.org to inspire young people around the globe to take up computer science through learning how to code. Within SA, this was achieved through 50 training sessions taking place across the country this week in places like Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth. Through these sessions, Microsoft says it aimed to reach at least 50 high schools and university students, graduates, teachers and parents in each session.

Zoaib Hoosen, managing director of Microsoft SA, attended an interactive Hour of Code session with pupils from Blairgowrie Primary School in Randburg yesterday. During this session, learners utilised a tutorial called Minecraft Hour of Code Designer, which was released last month.

"We are partnering with Code.org again this year to make computer science more accessible to thousands of youth from all around SA through Hour of Code and Minecraft. I am inspired by the Minecraft' generation who view themselves not as players of a game, but as creators of the new worlds they dream up. This is the generation that will imagine, build and create the country's future, by developing the apps and services we are going to use and starting their own businesses that will employ us in future," notes Hoosen.

Minecraft Hour of Code Designer with an interactive puzzle is a new Web-based tutorial — available for free at http://code.org/minecraft — enables beginner coders to create and share their own simple "Minecraft" game. It is designed to empower anyone to begin learning the problem-solving and critical thinking skills required in today's tech-fuelled world.

"Minecraft is a special game that appeals to a diverse global community, making it the perfect vehicle through which to teach learners of all backgrounds and skill levels to code. By programming familiar game events themselves, learners will be able to experience computer science in a way that is authentic as well as fun. Furthermore, these open-ended challenges also help show them that our favourite games are ultimately created with code themselves, helping to spark a career in computer science and app development," Hoosen points out.

Code.org also offers a number of "unplugged" lesson plans for teaching coding and computing skills to those without access to computers, using on-paper activities and games.


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