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Teachers Get 1 Week To Test Tech Giants' Hour of Code 81

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-could-possibly-go-wrong dept.
theodp writes "In a move straight out of Healthcare.gov's playbook, teachers won't get to preview the final lessons they're being asked to roll out to 10 million U.S. students until a week before the Dec. 9th launch of the Hour of Code nation-wide learn-to-code initiative, according to a video explaining the project, which is backed by the nation's tech giants, including Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Amazon. The Hour of Code tutorial page showcased to the press sports Lorem Ipsum pseudo-Latin text instead of real content, promised tutorial software is still being developed by Microsoft and Google, and celebrity tutorials by Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are still a work-in-progress. With their vast resources and deep pockets, the companies involved can still probably pull something off, but why risk disaster for such a high-stakes effort with a last-minute rush? One possible explanation is that CS Education Week, a heretofore little-recognized event, is coming up soon. Then again, tech immigration reform is back on the front burner, an initiative that's also near-and-dear to many of same players behind Hour of Code, including Microsoft Chief Counsel Brad Smith who, during the Hour of Code kickoff press conference, boasted that Microsoft's more-high-tech-visas-for-U.S.-kids-computer-science-education deal found its way into the Senate Immigration Bill, but minutes later joined his fellow FWD.us panelists to dismiss a questioner's suggestion that Hour of Code might somehow be part of a larger self-serving tech industry interest."
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Teachers Get 1 Week To Test Tech Giants' Hour of Code

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  • This can't be good (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 20, 2013 @02:36AM (#45179221)

    Hip, up-to-the-moment name? Check
    Tutorials by industry legends? Check
    Backed by the top companies in the IT business? Check
    D-Day style simultaneous rollout to multiple millions of customers? Check
    Nothing less than our nation's future may be at stake? Check

    Uh oh.

  • Better advice... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by real-modo (1460457) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @03:10AM (#45179309)

    * Learn to habitually apply critical thinking. Why would Microsoft want "every American student to have the opportunity to learn computer science"--a somewhat advanced branch of mathematics? That's right: it doesn't. It wants an oversupply of employees in "computing occupations". (Quotes from the linked technet blog post).

    BUT, don't apply critical thinking out loud at work. That's non-career-advancing. Use it in your meta-employment strategy.

    * Learn persuasion and negotiation skills: applied (cod-) psychology topics such as body language, emotional intelligence, rhetoric. Join Toastmasters. Develop a wide circle of acquaintances in lots of different industries and occupations--it's the "weak connections" that get you jobs.

    * Learn the elements of employment law.

    * Learn how to cooperate effectively with your fellow employees. Which means doing the shit work, at least some of the time, especially at the start.

    If you want to become one of the -l-i-z-a-r-d--p-e-o-p-l-e- 1%:-

    * learn what it takes. Here's a very introductory primer: The Gervais Principle [ribbonfarm.com].

  • Re:Apt name (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 20, 2013 @03:11AM (#45179319)

    I've been suspicious of the recent tech industry push for more programming. Writing code is great and all that, but there seemed to be something odd going on.
    Currently the US is heavily promoting programming via campaigns like the one listed here. The UK is doing the same. A few weeks ago David Cameron even mentioned the subject in his speech, which pretty much proved how the whole thing is a PR wheeze by the giant corps. Here's what Dave had to say:
    http://www.newstatesman.com/staggers/2013/10/david-camerons-speech-conservative-party-conference-2013-full-text

    'We've ended the dumbing down in exams.
    For the first time - children in our schools will learn the new language of computer coding.'

    Here's the problem, Mr Cameron went to our finest private school. He would have been in education during the 80s when his idol Mrs T was running a similar programming campaign (only in BBC Basic). He also couldn't have failed to miss the UK 80s computer boom.

    Yet from his speech he seems slightly clueless & factually wrong. We've had similar from other ministers who appear to be reading from policy sheets things they personally have no knowledge of.

    Here's another tech promoter in a video about women in computers:
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/video/2013/sep/30/arts-degree-tuition-fees-video-debate

    Yes, this woman is arguing that being multilingual in Europe is a waste of time & we should all learn the mysterious language of 'Code'. The depressing thing is she's pretty much invalidating her own argument as a) Her degree was such a 'waste of time' she ended up working at one of the top ad agencies in the world and b) She's not exactly prehistoric, why isn't she self-learning some computer science and being an inspiration to young women?

    Hence at least here in the UK the people promoting these campaigns appear to be pushing this elaborate fantasy to kids that if they 'code' then they can be the next Bill Gates. Sure, it might happen but isn't this as dishonest as telling five years olds to keep up the singing as they're going to be the new Beatles?

    Looks to me like the IT industry wants to get themselves lots and lots of cheap labour in the near future and realise that semi-employed teenagers can do many low-level jobs for beer money. Meanwhile the kids who can write 'hello world' in Python will get a big fucking shock when they come across the complexity of real production code or realise they require extensive scientific knowledge to understand it.

  • Re:10M students? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Joce640k (829181) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @03:40AM (#45179367) Homepage

    The BBC already did this back in 1982:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtMWEiCdsfc [youtube.com]

    (Warning: Actual typing of computer code on TV...)

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth. -- Nero Wolfe

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