Now is the hour for coding

Now is the hour for coding

New Zealand participation in global computing event, Hour of Code, is expected to quadruple from last year, thanks in part to the efforts of national coordinator and CPIT Department of Computing tutor Amitrajit Sarkar.

Sarkar and CPIT took the national lead in staging New Zealand's participation in the event for the first time last year. Part of the international Computer Science Education Week to be held December 7-13, he is expecting between 450 and 500 organisations nationwide to take part in next week's event. That's about a 400 per cent increase from last year.

Hour of code 
 Hour of Code targets Tohill family children Katelyn 12, Liam 10 and Matthew 8.

He attributes this to national and worldwide promotion and an increasing awareness of a growing need for computer coding skills.

"Computing is going to be in every field, every sector, from creative arts, nursing, marketing, computer science, software engineering to trades, food and hospitality; In other words absolutely everything. So we as an institute are participating in this event to help embed computing, just like literacy and numeracy, into every area of study to make our community ready for the future."

Since the initiative began in the United States in 2013, more than 140 million students have tried Hour of Code activities, with at least a third taking part in tutorials created by and from the Hour of Code website. Sarkar is involved in creating the content for exercises that introduce students and the wider community to the art of coding; that is, typing in simple directions to instruct computers to carry out complex tasks.

The initiative had resulted in more girls trying out computer science than in the last 70 years. CPIT's all-female IT group, which took part last year and would be participating again this year, was a good example, he said.

"It's also gratifying to see Maori communities participating, for instance the Digital Natives Academy in Rotorua who are connecting 100 Maori communities to learn and have fun alongside millions of families from around the globe."

hour of code 
Computing tutor Amitrajit Sarkar.

This was an example of how the digital gap could be bridged between all communities, and so that computing and the ability to code could reach everyone, he said.

Hour of Code has the endorsement of world and community leaders, along with major Information Technology partners, who want to prepare their countries and communities for changes in the way they carry out jobs.

Christchurch City Council is also a partner. Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel said the event was about developing skills to face an unpredictable future.

"We're at this moment in time where we can't possibly imagine what's going to come next, so we have to have the capacity to solve problems in a way that enables people with quite different points of view to come together and solve those problems. It might sound far-fetched just how quickly the world is changing and will change, and Hour of Code is part of that journey."

Hour of code is part of Computer Science Education Week and runs December 7-13.

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