Code.org is a nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to computer science in schools. It already is the leading provider of computer programming curriculum in the largest school districts in the US, and as we discovered at Verb, countries worldwide have taken notice.
For many years, countries around the world and even other US regions have tried to replicate Silicon Valley, with limited success. Academic Vivek Wadhwa explained in the MIT Technology Review that Silicon Valley is not just the product of one great University like Stanford, or one innovative research lab like Xerox Palo Alto, or one genius like Steve Jobs, but the fruit of a unique people of great diversity.
This insight helps understand why Code.org’s founder Hadi Partovi has a focus on diversity. If a country or region wants to replicate Silicon Valley, their unique population needs to believe they can learn to code. And some of them have started to believe.
Anyone can learn to code
Code.org started the Hour of Code campaign so that kids around the world would have the opportunity to get in contact with coding for the first time. The campaign has been very successful, reaching over 15% of all students in the world. That’s nearly 1.3 billion people and growing.
The campaign has helped Code.org connect with education institutions in different countries with the same goal: to improve their children’s prospects by teaching them computer programming. At one point, Code.org wanted to share those stories in a way that would inspire institutions in more countries to take advantage of their resources. That’s how they became a Verb customer.
It’s been a great project for Verb, because helping Code.org tell those stories has given our team a seat in a global tour of computer science education. Our first stops were Italy, Japan, and Chile, all virtual of course, which made their shocking diversity even more intense.
Code Global Tour
Start with Italy, where three million kids have taken coding classes from elementary school and up. The numbers surprised Enrico Nardelli, who launched an initiative called Programma il Futuro (“Program the Future”) that helped made it happen. He thinks Italians look up to America in coding, and that’s why they decided to partner with Code.org to make the curriculum available across the country. Teachers then made it their own.
It’s different to what happened in Japan, where the government is making a big push to teach computer science to the country’s 13 million students. Here Code.org partnered with Minna no Code (“Code for Everyone”) because founder Yuta Tonegawa felt a kinship in the quality, kindness, and vision that he was looking for. Tonegawa believes coding shouldn’t be someone’s special skill, but fundamental literacy going forward.
Still different to Chile, where Monica Retamal created Fundación Kodea with a vision that programming is a superpower to save the world. Her work inspired Chile to become one of the few countries in Latin America to create a national plan to bring coding to classrooms across the country. That’s where Code.org came in with a curriculum and model that schools can use to train their teachers and make coding education open to every student.
From Users to Coders
Retamal compares computing skills to speaking English, with the advantage that many children in Chile are already very familiar with technology, but only as users, not developers. The countries we visited as part of our tour may be very different, but all have in common a goal of giving their children a shot at a driver’s seat of their future.
An essential part of Code.org’s partnerships is to “localize” their training curriculum, which means translating it to the local language and adapting it to local cultural norms. All their work is made possible by a long list of donors which includes Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, the Infosys Foundation, Google and many more.
On page two of “Snow Crash,” the science fiction dystopia that introduced the word metaverse to describe a virtual environment, author Neal Stephenson lays out the four things that Americans still do better than anyone else in the story’s futuristic timeline.
Four things we do better than anyone else:“Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson
High-speed pizza delivery
Tech titans have talked about the metaverse recently as a vision of how technology might evolve. After learning about coding education in different countries, at Verb we think their support for Code.org is creating a far more positive version of the future than the virtual world in Stephenson’s novel.
Do you also need to share your story with the world? Learn more about the Verb subscriptions we offer Code.org and other customers.