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Code.Org: Preparing Today’s Students for Tomorrow

Code.Org: Preparing Today’s Students for Tomorrow

code.org LogoCode.org is a non-profit organization dedicated to expanding access to computer science and increasing participation by women and underrepresented minorities. Its founder, Hadi Partovi, was inspired to create Code.org because of the life-changing impact his early introduction to computer science had upon his own life. Born in Iran, Partovi immigrated with his family to the United States when he was six years old. His father, a physicist, began teaching Partovi and his twin brother coding and computer science at a very young age. When they were fifteen years old, the brothers began working at technology companies during the summer to earn extra money for their family and to help pay for their education.

“I feel like I’m living the American dream,” says Partovi. “I’ve had a fantastic career in technology. However, as I continued down my professional path, I realized how lucky I was to learn computer science from my father because most children don’t have that opportunity—either in their homes or at school. I began Code.org because computer science is a foundational field of study that is relevant for all students and should be available as an option for every child.”

The Age of Machines

Machine learning technologies are being integrated within nearly every industry, and today’s students need to be equipped with the skills and knowledge required to be successful not only in the present but also in the future. “Our country has so much debate about how we teach—less testing, more testing, longer days. There needs to be a debate about what we teach”, says Partovi. “I believe one of the most important skills students can learn is the ability to keep up with technological change.”

No Experience Necessary

Code.org was created to fill that gap and provide both teachers and students with free, unlimited access to high-quality computer science resources, curriculum, and training. “A teacher doesn’t need a coding or computer science background to teach computer science or coding,” says Partovi. “We can prepare an art teacher to be a computer science teacher in ten days. Our professional learning program can get any teacher who is passionate about the subject matter to the point where they can teach an AP or college level computer science course.”

The Code.org curriculum is designed as an inquiry-based learning model. Teachers facilitate the learning by asking questions rather than providing answers. Students can also watch recorded lectures delivered by experts in the field. Code.org’s free, on-site professional learning is delivered through a network of 56 regional partners and led by experienced teachers. Over 70 percent of the teachers who have attended a Code.org workshop say that it is the best professional development they have ever received.

Illustration Student Coder

“Our nation has over 100,000 schools,” says Partovi. “There are not nearly enough computer science teachers to meet the demand. Our curriculum and professional learning program empowers a math or English teacher with the ability to meet a need and extend an extremely valuable learning opportunity to their students. 73 percent of students taught using the Code.org curriculum passed the AP computer science exam last year. Many of those students were taught by teachers who had little to no previous experience with coding or computer science.”

Computer Science and Beyond

The Code.org curriculum covers a broad spectrum of subjects—computer programming, computational thinking, big data, data analysis, cyber security, networking, digital citizenship, etc.—making it relevant and relatable to students of all ages, even kindergartners.

“You don’t think of computer science as a subject that can be taught in elementary or middle school,” says Partovi. “However, even at five or six years of age, students can learn basic concepts. In fact, we believe elementary school is the best time to give students the broadest computer science foundation. They learn how to use a mouse to drag and drop blocks of code. They also learn the basics about being safe online. By second grade, children can create some very interesting programs.”

The Impact

Although it’s only been existence for five years, Code.org is having a huge impact nationwide.

  • 25% of America’s students have accounts on Code.org
  • 45% of the students enrolled in Code.org’s online course are female; 48 percent are underrepresented minorities
  • 99% of surveyed teachers recommend the Code.org intro CS curriculum
  • Over 750,000 teachers have signed up to teach intro courses on Code Studio and over 25 million students are enrolled
  • Code.org has prepared 68,000 new teachers to teach computer science across grades K–12

The organization’s success is largely attributable to the grassroot adoption efforts led by teachers and students. The Code.org team is also speaking with state education leaders about recognizing computer science as a math or science in terms of graduation requirements. Forty states have already enacted some type of policy change that recognizes computer science as an academic field and 15 have begun the process of including it within their state standards in some manner.

For those administrators and teachers who are hesitant about introducing computer science courses due to a lack of devices, only 30 devices are needed per 1,000 students because almost half of Code.org’s curriculum is offline. The rest can be completed in a lab setting.

Seeing the Results

Students across the country are leveraging the program’s tools and curriculum to create some impressive and innovative projects. “We had one tenth grade student who spent her entire weekend building an adventure game app,” says Partovi. “When she presented it to her class, they were so impressed that they gave her a standing ovation. That’s pretty amazing.”

Partovi is enjoying seeing the results of the program firsthand. “When you walk into a room of students and see the optimism on their faces, you realize the opportunity you are giving them,” says Partovi. “These are students who previously may not have made it to college but now they have the chance to learn something that could earn them a much higher paying job.”





To learn more about Code.org and how you can introduce its curriculum into your school district or library, visit code.org.





Rachel is ENA’s communications manager. As the daughter of two educators, she is passionate about spotlighting and sharing the impressive outcomes being produced in today’s education and library communities.
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