Archive for the ‘education’ Category

Computer Science Education Week begins Monday – Join us in an ‘Hour of Code’

December 9th, 2013 No comments

The following post is from Satya Nadella, Executive Vice President, Cloud and Enterprise at Microsoft.

Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek) is an important moment for everyone, especially youth, to learn how the ability to code can open doors to future careers in unexpected ways. One of the activities I am most excited about is the “Hour of Code” campaign. In partnership with and other leading tech companies, Microsoft is encouraging 10 million students of all ages to spend an hour this week learning basic coding skills, while hopefully having some fun in the process.

Among many activities to help get kids started this week, everyone is invited to join us at a Microsoft store where employees will be offering free coding lessons on Kodu Game Lab and TouchDevelop. We’re also partnering on and hosting various other coding events across the country from Washington, D.C. to Silicon Valley.

Right now, less than 2.4 percent of college students graduate with a degree in computer science, yet computer programming jobs are growing at twice the national average and are among the top paying fields. So why aren’t more students jumping at the opportunity to learn the skills that will lead to great jobs? We’ve found that one of the biggest barriers is simply access to computer science classes.

Of the 42,000 high schools in the U.S., just over 3,000 offer Advanced Placement computer science classes. One of the reasons is the lack of qualified teachers. However, another factor is the fact that only 14 states and our nation’s capital count computer science toward core high school math or science credits required for graduation. To further strengthen access to computer science education, Microsoft is working with state and local education officials to advocate for allowing computer science courses to count toward high school graduation requirements.

As part of the company’s YouthSpark initiative, we run a program called TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools), which pairs computer engineers from Microsoft and other tech companies with full-time high school teachers to teach basic and advanced computer science. This school year, the TEALS program is in 70 schools in 12 states, reaching more than 3,300 students with the support of 280 volunteers. It keeps expanding year over year, and it’s clear that students and teachers are eager to learn how to code.

But one company or organization can’t address the need on its own. The good news is that many are collaborating on creative ideas to get kids excited about coding, and to shift public policy related to computer science education so everyone who wants to study it has the option.

This is why initiatives like the “Hour of Code” are so important, and why we are proud to lend our support. One hour is all it takes for a student to get excited about a new hobby or envision a future career. If 10 million students spend an hour coding during CSEdWeek, just imagine what new companies, jobs and ideas they could bring to life.

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Students everywhere count down the hours to ‘Hour of Code’

December 6th, 2013 No comments

It’s just one hour. But it’s an hour that could change young lives forever, and help guide them to a better future. That’s why Microsoft is challenging as many young people as possible to participate in the “Hour of Code” during Computer Science Education Week, Dec. 9-15.

“Hour of Code” is an introduction to computer science, and if those two words – “computer science” – scare or intrigue you, consider taking part. “Hour of Code” is aimed at demystifying “code” and showing that anyone can learn the basics. Anyone. (Yes, adults, you are absolutely encouraged to participate, too!)

The program is sponsored by, the nonprofit organization that Microsoft is a founding member of, which is dedicated to “growing computer science education by making it available in more schools.”

Nearly 29,000 events are planned in 160 countries, events that will reach an estimated 4 million students, with Microsoft employees participating in many of them around the world.

“A computer science education is a ticket to upward mobility, and every student deserves to have access to it,” said Peter Lee, corporate vice president and head of Microsoft Research.

“Hour of Code allows us to reach students, engage them and show how fun programming can be. I am proud that Microsoft’s tools will play an important role in doing this.”

Among those tools are the Kodu Game Lab and TouchDevelop. Kodu is a visual programming language from Microsoft Research that makes it easy for students to create games, characters and landscapes. (You can learn more about Kodu and Hour of Code here.) TouchDevelop lets anyone create mobile apps and games on any smartphone, tablet or PC. (See video above.)

You can write scripts simply by tapping on the screen, and you can share your scripts on the TouchDevelop website or submit them to the Windows Store or the Windows Phone Store.

Among those from Microsoft Research who will be out at schools next week is Rane Johnson-Stempson, Microsoft Research’s education and scholarly communication principal research director.

She will be in central Oregon at the Culver School District middle school and high school. She also plans to return later in the month to do programming with students in sixth through ninth grade, and to meet with 93 middle-school girls “to give them exposure to computer science research and the importance of User Experience Design.”

So many times, she says, young people – especially girls – “only hear about the difficult tasks of programming and algorithms; they don’t hear about the art, creativity and problem solving required to ensure an application meets the end user’s needs.”

Computer Science Education Week, an annual program organized by and the Computing in the Core coalition, is held at this time of year in recognition of the birthday of computing pioneer Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, born Dec. 9, 1906.

Microsoft retail stores around the country also will host customized events to kick off Computer Science Education Week and support Hour of Code. Each store will create its own experience to drive awareness of the goal of giving every student the opportunity to learn computer science. Check out the activities in your area by visiting Microsoft Store events information here.

Microsoft’s YouthSpark initiative, started in September 2012, is another program that focuses year-round on computer science education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for young people.

“Technology is now, more than ever, a great equalizer for 21st century jobs,” wrote Lori Forte Harnick, Microsoft’s general manager for citizenship and public affairs in a September 2013 blog post about YouthSpark’s first year.

Computer programming jobs, she said, “are growing at two times the national average in the U.S., yet less than 2.4 percent of college students are graduating with a degree in computer science. And, of course, there are still many youth without the digital literacy skills that are required for employment in most workplaces around the world. In light of this continued mismatch between skills and jobs, we are increasing our efforts to bring technology education to youth.”

Microsoft strongly supports efforts to expand access to STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – education and classes, and applauds efforts underway in numerous states to allow computer science courses to count toward high school graduation requirements. Right now, most states do not allow high school computer science classes to count towards graduation requirements.

Through the YouthSpark initiative, Microsoft is committed to providing young people around the world with access to computer science education through digital literacy programs such as TEALS — Technology Education And Literacy in Schools — DigiGirlz and the Imagine Cup, as well as its partnership with (To read Microsoft’s YouthSpark stories from around the world, visit this page, and visit the YouthSpark Hub to learn more about Microsoft’s digital literacy curriculum.)

In the U.S., in YouthSpark’s second year, Microsoft’s TEALS expansion is more than doubling the number of high schools where software engineers are helping to teach basic and advanced computer science courses. TEALS now includes 70 schools in 12 states.

Through those programs and others, including Office 365 Education, Skype in the Classroom and Partners in Learning, Microsoft has expanded digital inclusion and access to technology and training for 78.6 million youth; inspired and empowered 14.9 million future innovators through tools, mentorships and events; and increased employability and entrepreneurial skills opportunities for 9.9 million young adults.

You can read more about Microsoft’s involvement with “Hour of Code” in this post by Brad Smith, general counsel and executive vice president of Legal & Corporate Affairs at Microsoft, and learn more about “Hour of Code” itself at

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Suzanne Choney  
Microsoft News Center Staff 

Weekend Reading: Dec. 6th Edition – Microsoft stands up for customer privacy

December 6th, 2013 No comments

In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on Microsoft’s role in protecting customer data, how 150,000 students, administrators and staff members in Canada have started using Office 365 and Microsoft Research’s first Artist in Residence.

Brad Smith, general counsel and executive vice president of Microsoft’s Legal & Corporate Affairs, wrote about how “many of our customers have serious concerns about government surveillance of the Internet.” He added, “We share their concerns. That’s why we are taking steps to ensure governments use legal process rather than technological brute force to access customer data. Like many others, we are especially alarmed by recent allegations in the press of a broader and concerted effort by some governments to circumvent online security measures – and in our view, legal processes and protections – in order to surreptitiously collect private customer data.”

On Wednesday, Microsoft announced that Canada’s second-largest public school board – the Peel District School Board – has deployed Microsoft Office 365 to more than 150,000 students, administrators and staff members. And, in another big boost for educators, schools and universities that use Office 365 ProPlus for faculty and staff can now extend the service to students for free. Small businesses also received more help in setting up Office 365 from the latest video in the Garage Series, as you can see below.

James George is Microsoft Research’s first Artist in Residence, who is as at home amongst algorithms and software code as he is in galleries and behind a camera. For three months, the Idaho native relocated to Redmond from his current home in Brooklyn as the first Microsoft Research Artist in Residence (AiR). And in a way, it was a homecoming for the University of Washington alum, who graduated with a computer science degree. George straddles that border between art and technology, and has no problem blurring those lines in his work. Starting Dec. 3, his art installation, “Instance,” will inhabit the Studio 99 art space in Redmond, right in the heart of Microsoft Research.


James George, Microsoft Research’s first Artist in Residence

The week after U.S. Thanksgiving continues the holiday gift-giving frenzy, and we gave you some great ideas to make it less crazy for you. For the DIY set, nifty gifts are close at hand with these tech tips and tools. For the voyagers in your life, these holiday gifts brighten and lighten globe-trotters’ travels. And for that ultimate gift-giver – you know, that jolly guy in the sleigh who makes lots of stops around the world – Microsoft has put a fresh spin on the annual tracking of Santa’s journey through the launch of the 3D, touch-optimized NORAD Tracks Santa project.


The Bing Maps Preview app for Windows 8.1 brings the world to your fingertips – in 3D. It gives you personalized local recommendations via Local Scout and smart notifications, real-time traffic updates and a 3D mapping experience of more than 70 cities (and counting) across the globe. Read more about it on Next at Microsoft and the Bing Search Blog. Bing also released a report of its top searches in 2013 – with lots of familiar names and faces (Beyonce, Tim Tebow and the Dallas Cowboys among them).

The Windows Store and Windows Phone Store gained apps and games that satisfied both adventure seekers, home buyers and many more shoppers. You had a lot of new choices to shop from this week, including the Staff App Pick: Zillow and the App of the Week: (download NOOK and take advantage of special offers in the U.S., the U.K. and Spain). You can also find “Dungeon Hunter 4” for free from the Windows Store and the Windows Phone Store and manage personal finances through from the Windows Store and the Windows Phone Store. A new Lync app for Windows 8.1 now gives you control of a shared screen and other improvements. Yammer – Microsoft’s social networking service for the workplace – just updated all of its apps with an updated design and a long list of handy new features.

If you’re looking for Windows Phone apps, you’ve got a lot to choose from with these deals and new offerings: Super Photo, “Crumble Zone” and “Final Fantasy” (the latest Red Stripe Deals collection in the Windows Phone Store), MyFitnessPal, “Wheel of Fortune” and Cisco WebEx Meetings.


This week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we watched an internationally renowned wedding and lifestyle photographer capture a wedding using a Lumia 1020.

Thanks for stopping by this edition of Weekend Reading, which is heading into the homestretch as we say the long goodbye to 2013. See you next week!

Posted by Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff