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Microsoft Education Programming

Should Microsoft Give Kids Programmable Versions of Office? 226

Posted by samzenpus
from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-children? dept.
theodp (442580) writes "Over at Microsoft on the Issues, Microsoft continues to lament the computer programming skills gap of American kids, while simultaneously lobbying for more H-1B visas to fill that gap. Saying that states must do more to 'help students gain critical 21st century skills,' Microsoft credits itself and partner Code.org for getting 30,606,732 students to experience coding through the Hour of Code, claiming that K-12 kids have 'written 1,332,784,839 lines of code' (i.e., dragged-and-dropped puzzle pieces), So, if it's concerned about helping students gain programming skills, shouldn't Microsoft be donating fully-functional desktop versions of MS-Office to schools, which would allow kids to use Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)? While Microsoft's pledge to give 12 million copies of its Office software to schools was heralded by the White House and the press, a review of the 'fine print' at Microsoft suggests it's actually the online VBA-free version of Office 365 Education that the kids will be getting, unless their schools qualify for the Student Advantage program by purchasing Office for the faculty and staff. Since Microsoft supported President Obama's call for kids to 'Don't Just Play on Your Phone, Program It', shouldn't it give kids the chance to program MS-Office, too?"
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Should Microsoft Give Kids Programmable Versions of Office?

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  • Python, etc? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 07, 2014 @10:18AM (#46683333)

    ... and that makes more sense than something like Python?

    • by kthreadd (1558445)

      Perl. Control flow based on indentation is a novel idea, but doesn't really make sense to most users. Especially until the tab vs spaces problem is solved.

      • Tabs vs. spaces is already solved. In IDLE, the smart Python editor that comes bundled with Python for Windows, pressing the Tab key inserts four spaces.
        • by Kz (4332)

          Tabs vs. spaces is already solved. In IDLE, the smart Python editor that comes bundled with Python for Windows, pressing the Tab key inserts four spaces.

          That's part of the problem, not the solution. These half-functional 'features' makes people believe that somehow it's acceptable to indent with spaces instead of tabs.

          Fact is, no editor can correctly read my mind as to when I want to indent and deindent when it's using spaces instead of the single character that was invented for the sole purpose of indentation:

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        I agree on this. When you're just getting into programming, getting hung up on formatting can be frustrating. For the first simple hello world programs, formatting should not be necessary. I think that Basic is a great first language, for the first week or so, because you don't even have to worry about functions, or importing libraries or any of the other unnecessary things you have to do in other languages in order to just get things running. In C, you have to have a function called main with a bunch o
    • by kyrsjo (2420192)

      I was thinking exactly the same thing - Python is already free, easier to learn and available on most platforms (heck, even my old S60 phone from ~'05 ran a Python interpreter with example programs. It was the most powerfull pocket calculator ever. You could probably do simple Python stuff on an tablet device if you really wanted to..).

      The problem is the availability of teachers who know how to program, not software.

  • by bradgoodman (964302) on Monday April 07, 2014 @10:19AM (#46683335) Homepage
    Time was - companies like this would give this sort of stuff away to get [younger] people hooked on these technologies. Would Microsoft want to get kids hooked into nice wholesome activities like MS-SQL, C#, .net or VB - or let them pick up stuff like LAMP an Python from their friends on the street.

    Giving the stuff away is a way to groom the next up-and-coming generation into drinking your Kool-Aid. If they don't do this - they have only themselves to blame when the next generation grows up to be FOSS zellots...

    • by OzPeter (195038) on Monday April 07, 2014 @10:32AM (#46683489)

      ... Would Microsoft want to get kids hooked into nice wholesome activities like MS-SQL, C#, .net or VB -

        If they don't do this - they have only themselves to blame when the next generation grows up to be FOSS zellots...

      Do you mean like all those free versions of Visual Studio and MS-SQL that they have been giving away for years and years?

    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      Would Microsoft want to get kids hooked into nice wholesome activities like MS-SQL, C#, .net or VB

      They already give away all that. Plus a restriction-free copy of Visual Studio, to boot [visualstudio.com]. They have been for decades. Your FUD is decades out-of-date and I hate you.

      • Plus a restriction-free copy of Visual Studio, to boot

        Restriction-free including a lack of restrictions against running it on a non-Windows operating system or even an older Genuine Windows operating system? For one thing, nothing on the page you linked even runs on Windows Vista, which is still in extended support. For another, the version targeting Windows Phone runs only on Windows 8.

        Your FUD is decades out-of-date

        I think the point is that Visual Studio encourages programmers to code to APIs available only on Windows. Pretty much every time I've tried to load a .NET application in Mono,

        • by Sigma 7 (266129)

          For one thing, nothing on the page you linked even runs on Windows Vista, which is still in extended support.

          You have to scroll down to find Visual Studio 2010, but it's there. Granted, the latest version should still run on something in extended support...

          I think that's a problem with any system. For example, if you write something for Mac OS's Carbon, it still takes a bit of effort to port that to anything else (unless you have some standard middleware library.)

      • There is also Kodu Game Lab (http://www.kodugamelab.com/). Which is far more interesting for younger kids and also free from Microsoft.

    • Time was - if I wanted my computer to do anything, I could program it or go to a bunch computer shows and hope somebody already had what I wanted. {on a stack of floppy disks}

      Today- there is an app for that, it's free and you can download it in under a minute. {on to your 32Gb sd card in your phone while you are just about anywhere}

  • by JoeyRox (2711699) on Monday April 07, 2014 @10:19AM (#46683337)
    How about we send Microsoft some books on how to design a user interface?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Yeah, some real choice UIs coming out of the open source world. Let's see what books the Unity and Gnome teams have been reading and send them over to MS.
      • There are tons of crappy open source GUIs but there's also XFCE and LXDE.

        Anyway, the guy you're responding to never mentioned open source. A fair Apples to Apples comparison is OS X, which Microsoft hasn't been able to catch up to for almost fifteen years. It's pretty sad that there are open source GUIs like XFCE that are drastically better than XP, Vista, 7, and especially 8.

        • by Ravaldy (2621787)

          I doubt they are trying to catch up to Apple's OS X. They have a different clientele hence a completely different design requirement. MS doesn't care about Apple's interface and vice versa.

          • by Molt (116343)
            To be honest given the changes from Windows 7 to Windows 8 I don't think MS cares about MS' interface any more.
    • by chispito (1870390)

      How about we send Microsoft some books on how to design a user interface?

      You fail to grasp Microsoft's brilliant play. Metro is a feature to encourage the use of the (Power)shell environment.

      • by Number42 (3443229)
        I finally get it. The weak get weeded out and jump ship to OSes with usable GUIs, while the strong remain, having learned to use the POSIX-compliant shell. They then come to the realization that if they're using the command line for everything anyway, they might as well switch to Linux. Wait...
  • Bad figures (Score:4, Insightful)

    by chthon (580889) on Monday April 07, 2014 @10:21AM (#46683355) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, 1,000,000,000 lines of code. And it takes 9 women just 1 month to create 1 baby.

  • by Lumpy (12016)

    Kids should be given FULL copies of Visual Studio. and a decent set of books that explain to kids how to use it and write software.

    Many kids started with a home computer that did nothing but drop you into a basic interpreter prompt and they ramped up fast on their own.

    Sadly Visual Basic is just C# lite so it has as steep of a learning curve as C# and C++ does directly. so there is nothing that a kid can get right into fast.

    • Kids should be given FULL copies of Visual Studio

      Here you go [dreamspark.com].

    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      I agree that Visual Basic .NET is a lot less "learnable" (for lack of a better word) than old-school Visual Basic.

      But what feature do you think the Express version of Visual Studio lacks for this use? (Ignoring for a moment that students generally can get a full version of VS for very cheap or free through their school.) Why the all-caps on the word "FULL"?

      Hell, from my experience, most actual dev shops don't even use the FULL ("Ultimate") version of Visual Studio, the standard edition is fine for 99.9% of

    • Why "full" copies of Visual Studio? What does the Express editions lack that kids would need? They have access to the full capabilities of the .Net framework, a full C/C++ environment and more - the Express editions really lack the surrounding IDE features that would be lost that early on in the developer learning curve, stuff like profiling etc.

    • I disagree. I think kids should be given a good Linux distro and an internet connection. Why do they need Visual Studio and books?

    • by tc3driver (669596)
      Kids have no interest.

      Kids want to grow up to be a movie star, or a pop star, or a $sports star. That is what the culture in America idolizes, those who don't fall into this modicum are rejected as "geeks", "nerds", "freaks" , etc.

      All you really have to do to get a good idea of this is to watch American television. Even our news consists mostly of the lives of those who are considered celebrities. Hell this morning there was a report that one of our state level representatives is getting married, n
  • by DaMattster (977781) on Monday April 07, 2014 @10:25AM (#46683401)
    Will Microsoft even be relevant in the future? They seem to have stagnated on innovation and are late coming to the latest and greatest technology party. Google and Facebook have relegated Microsoft to a lesser innovator.
    • Re:Microsoft (Score:5, Informative)

      by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Monday April 07, 2014 @10:29AM (#46683437)
      And what is coming out of Facebook that is so "innovative"? Hack? I mean, come on...
    • Microsoft has always been the lesser innovator. They're always late to the party. But they still have a stranglehold on the business desktop and that isn't going to change any time soon. Too many businesses have legacy apps that haven't been updated in 10 years and that they can't realistically migrate away from. The hard part for Microsoft this time around is that they're having to change their business model - from making money selling software to giving away the software and making money off every st

    • You seem to forget that Facebook and Microsoft are in bed together. I wouldn't really consider them to be an innovator, though. Facebook's like the internet's Windows '95 -- and they're buying up companies in a fashion similar to how Microsoft did in the 90s.

  • Get 'em young, get em forever - nothing original here.
  • "should" (Score:5, Informative)

    by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Monday April 07, 2014 @10:27AM (#46683417)
    There are a lot of articles about what Microsoft "Should" be doing recently. IMO Microsoft is already going above and beyond when it comes to providing students free developer tools: https://www.dreamspark.com/ [dreamspark.com]
  • by Connie_Lingus (317691) on Monday April 07, 2014 @10:29AM (#46683445) Homepage

    ...why do people have the ridiculous assumptions that..

    1. coding is "fun" and it's something kids/adults would just love spending time doing "if we just exposed them to it"

    and

    2, that kids/adults want to spend their lives in semi-constant frustration of having to get these damn computers working and to learn and relearn skills every 4 years?

    my 12yo daughter encapsulated it perfectly a few months ago..

    "dad...you seem really smart...why in the world did you decide to be a programmer and sit behind a computer 10 hours a day instead of doing something cool?"

    • 1. coding is "fun" and it's something kids/adults would just love spending time doing "if we just exposed them to it"

      It can be fun. It can also be soul-breakingly boring. Describes most jobs I know. I'm both an engineer and an accountant. There are aspects of both jobs that are super cool and fun and there are others that I'd rather poke myself in the eye with a fork than do more of it. What makes a job interesting is A) the problem you are working on to solve and B) the people you are doing it with. You need an interesting and relevant problem and you need to work on it with competent people you enjoy working with.

    • "dad...you seem really smart...why in the world did you decide to be a programmer and sit behind a computer 10 hours a day instead of doing something cool?"

      Because we knew that someone, someday, would create this. [youtube.com]

    • by Viol8 (599362) on Monday April 07, 2014 @11:07AM (#46683879)

      Unless you were a roadie for Beyonce or Bieber she'd probably say the same about any job you did whether you were a top surgeon or an airline pilot.

    • Learning the concepts of coding can be incredibly useful for anyone using computers in the workplace. It's not about people writing full blown programs, but writing Excel macros or doing a little VBA scripting. Similarly, I know a little about carpentry, tiling, plumbing and electrical work, and I found these to be very useful skills to have for small jobs around the house, but I don't do any of that for a living. Learning a little coding doesn't mean you have to make a career out of it.

      "dad...you seem really smart...why in the world did you decide to be a programmer and sit behind a computer 10 hours a day instead of doing something cool?"

      Sounds like a perc

    • by gtall (79522) on Monday April 07, 2014 @11:22AM (#46684055)

      Well, in fairness to your daughter, you'll be getting dumber and dumber until she hits about 21. Then you'll start getting smarter again. If I were you, I'd use the "dumb time" to pick up some high return hobbies so you'll be ready for her when she hits 21.

    • by Ravaldy (2621787)

      Me and my friends were coding at the age of 14 (in the 90s). We enjoyed it because we could create. Today, I know a few kids ages 12 - 16 that enjoy coding.

      I love coding for a living. I challenge myself to make more maintainable code and to learn new methods to increase my output and quality.

    • ...why do people have the ridiculous assumptions that..

      1. coding is "fun" and it's something kids/adults would just love spending time doing "if we just exposed them to it"

      Nobody is making that assumption other than you. The point is to expose kids to programming so that the ones who will enjoy it can discover that fact and pursue it. It's that whole "broadening your horizons" thing that school is supposed to do.

    • Because coding is an incredibly useful skill when you realize how much of the "real world" wastes time on mundane tasks which could be improved or automated. Especially if you're in a non-engineering background even the simplest of coding skills can put you far ahead of your peers.

  • by bazmail (764941) on Monday April 07, 2014 @10:34AM (#46683511)
    and HOOOORAY open source and slashdot type stuff!!!
  • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Monday April 07, 2014 @10:35AM (#46683523)

    Should Microsoft be forced to support XP? Should Microsoft give kids Office? Should Microsoft start making hybrid cars out of farm waste?

    Maybe a better question should be: does any decision-maker at Microsoft give a tenth of a fuck about what any Slashdot poster has to say? I'm wagering the answer to that one is: no.

    • Perhaps a better question is "If Microsoft fails to do so, what's stopping someone from taking advantage of this failure and bringing about the era of a freely licensed operating system on desktop computers?"
      • by Blakey Rat (99501)

        Well, in the case of Linux, it appears the answer is: "constant in-fighting and general incompetence." Next question? I'm an expert at these ones!

  • We should be very conservative with our H-1B Visas. Every one of these visas issued amounts to one less job for a US citizen, and usually a good paying job, at that. If there are not enough citizens with the needed skills, then companies themselves can hire-to-train. It is called hiring "entry-level".
    • by guruevi (827432)

      Entry level Indian/Pakistani are still cheaper. What needs to happen is that H1B's should by law have 150% of the median income for the area for that type of job and an additional 50% invested in local education programs

      • Genius! That would be a great way to prove what H1-Bs are *really* about.

      • Entry level Indian/Pakistani are still cheaper. What needs to happen is that H1B's should by law have 150% of the median income for the area for that type of job and an additional 50% invested in local education programs

        In addition, H1B holders should be free to change companies after say six months without losing their visa. If companies are paying the prevailing wage then that should not cause problems for them; if they aren't then the free market will sort it out for them.

    • Every one of these visas issued amounts to one less job for a US citizen

      Not necessarily, for two reasons. First, expats in the US on a work visa will be buying goods and services with the money that they earn in the US and paying US and state income tax, state and local sales tax, and local property tax with the money that they earn in the US. US residents benefit from these expats' demand for goods produced by US residents, and governments benefit from their tax dollars. Second, if the US grants a Canadian citizen one work visa, and Canada grants one US citizen a work visa, no

    • Companies want instant gratification and lobby for it. Training that fits a certain tool stack takes too long for their little twiddling Thurston Howell fingers. They don't care if the US is flooded with unemployed techies who don't happen match the company profile of the day, that's not their problem. They just want greenbacks and yachts. A shrinking middle class is somebody ELSE'S problem.

      I want special peanut butter; I don't care if it's uneconomical for the store to carry the brand me, myself, and I wan

  • VBA ?!? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Knightman (142928) on Monday April 07, 2014 @10:38AM (#46683563)

    Learning kids to program using VBA is like learning to cycle using a pogo-stick.

  • by ikhider (2837593) on Monday April 07, 2014 @10:41AM (#46683583)
    Let us see, do we have the four freedoms? 1. The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0). No, only the purposes designated by the Microsoft EULA. When you buy a laptop, even if you disagree with a EULA, the manufacturer (like HP) will not even permit you to refund the OS. 2) The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this. The Micorosft EULA specifically prohibits this. 3) The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2). Once again, the Microsoft EULA specifically prohibits this. 4) The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this. This again, violates the Microsoft EULA. Micorsoft is not interested in a a better world, rather it is interested in their share value and market dominance. Better to have the kids work on Libreoffice.
    • Why does everyone in the world have to conform to your ideology? Those freedoms are part of your ideology, nothing more.

      • by ikhider (2837593)
        The four freedoms are an ideal to aspire to. The fact is, Microsoft runs the show. We have to conform to Microsoft and (for you) Apple's ideology. In the words of the old Apple ads, 'think different'. ; - )
        • The four freedoms are *your* ideal to aspire to, never forget that :) I'm all for people releasing their source code, if they want to - however, I don't feel people should be vilified purely because they choose not to.

          • by ikhider (2837593)
            My dear fellow, never forget that proprietary software is in our schools, where it has no right to be. If you want proprietary, knock yourself out. But not in the public sphere. Mmmkay?
  • by enigmatic (122657) on Monday April 07, 2014 @10:45AM (#46683637)

    Have you ever spent time writing VBA code?
    Did you enjoy it?

    If we want more people to take up coding, making them do VBA code is a great way to scare everyone away from ever programming again.

  • by dtjohnson (102237) on Monday April 07, 2014 @10:45AM (#46683641)
    ...based on what they DO rather than on what they SAY. They used to supply a simple basic interpreter with every copy of MS-DOS that cost nothing and was simple to use. That is long gone and nothing has ever taken its place. If kids want to code now, the options are expensive, complicated, and are not included in the price of 'Windows.' Moreover, Microsoft distributes sophisticated video games that suck up the time and creative energy of the very kids that would otherwise be likely to code in the first place. One might think that Microsoft would encourage high schools to offer coding curricula by distributing tools to high schools for free/low cost and providing training and guidance for teachers. Instead, Microsoft distributes Office for low cost and we are talking in TFA about what Office can do as a development tool. One has to conclude, based on its actions, that the very last thing Microsoft wants is for a lot of bright american kids to be actually writing powerful creative code for Windows.
    • by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Monday April 07, 2014 @11:00AM (#46683797)

      Microsoft does not want kids coding based on what they DO rather than on what they SAY. They used to supply a simple basic interpreter with every copy of MS-DOS that cost nothing and was simple to use. That is long gone and nothing has ever taken its place. If kids want to code now, the options are expensive, complicated, and are not included in the price of 'Windows.'

      Apparently, Slashdotters are truly ignorant about Dreamspark [dreamspark.com], as this is the third time I've had to post it. Let me spell it out for you. From the FAQ:

      What is DreamSpark?
      DreamSpark is a Microsoft Program that supports technical education by providing access to Microsoft software for learning, teaching and research purposes.
      DreamSpark is simple: it's all about giving students Microsoft professional-level developer and designer tools at no cost so that students can chase their dreams and create the next big breakthrough in technology - or just get a head start on their career.
      High schools, vocational and trade schools, community colleges and universities are all eligible to participate in the DreamSpark program. Simply put, any accredited school around the world is eligible.

      Emphasis mine. Here is a sampling of the software available:

      • Visual Studio Professional versions 2008 through 2013
      • Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Pro
      • Microsoft Expression Studio 4 Ultimate
      • Kinect for Windows SDK
      • XNA Game Studio 4
      • Kodu Game Lab
      • Small Basic
      • Microsoft Mathematics 4
      • Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio
      • etc...
      • by dtjohnson (102237)
        So...which of those titles are included with every copy of Windows? Which of those provide kids with a simple and powerful way to create something impressive? For which of those can they share the results back and forth with their friends? If Bill Gates was a teenager now, he would be on xbox live and there never would have been any Microsoft.
        • by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Monday April 07, 2014 @11:33AM (#46684191)

          So...which of those titles are included with every copy of Windows?

          Why does it have to come with the OS? What does that even matter these days, when everything is a download away.Almost half the products I listed are available direct from MS without going through Dreamspark:

          Just a simple download away. You can even download [visualstudio.com] Visual Studio Express for free to develop for web, desktop, or Windows Phone. This is a great place for kids to start. When they're ready for advanced features, they can move over to the full version through Dreamspark.

          Which of those provide kids with a simple and powerful way to create something impressive?

          Take your pick. There's something for all levels. Smallbasic and Kodu Game Lab are products for beginners. Next level up they can use Robotics studio or XNA Game Lab. Kinect SDK is very powerful and easy to use as well with lots of example code.

          If Bill Gates was a teenager now, he would be on xbox live and there never would have been any Microsoft.

          Many gamers are very keen to make their own games, but they don't know how. MS provides tools for this. I've taught many middle / high school students how to program robots using MS Robotics studio and the Kinect SDK, and they love it. It's amazing the kind of stuff they come up with.

      • by BUL2294 (1081735)
        Unfortunately, easier said than done. All of these have unbelievably steep learning curves to do anything reasonable. Ironically, my interest in programming started with my TI-99/4A in 1983-1985. I used to get magazines that would provide programs (that I'd spend an hour-plus typing in) to see how it works. I didn't really know the limits of that machine, so it was cool to see what I could do with it--and how I could change the programs to do certain things...

        Unfortunately, with Dreamspark tools above
        • Did you miss Small Basic, Kodu Game lab, and Robotics Studio in the above list? The first to are aimed specifically at children starting out with programming. Kodu Game Lab and Robotics Studio are visual programming languages, which are especially easy for beginners to pick up in my experience.

          Why write a little program that draws some lines when the child could play a video game that's much more visually stimulating & engaging???

          I don't know about you, but when I was a kid, me and my friends wanted to create games because we liked playing games. We were coding text adventures in qbasic because we liked Zork. Then we moved on to coding platfor

          • by tepples (727027)

            I don't think I've met a gamer who hasn't had "wouldn't it be cool if..." ideas him/herself.

            There are a few persistent commenters on Slashdot who believe there ought to be an entry barrier to video game programming in order "to keep out the riff-raff" (example [slashdot.org]). Instead, these users believe that a budding video game programmer should first finish high school, finish college, and finish several years of experience at an established video game studio before implementing any of his or her own "wouldn't it be cool if..." ideas.

        • by unimacs (597299)
          You realize that a Mac + an iPad is probably much cheaper in today's dollars than your TI-99 was in 1984 right? A new Mac Mini costs $600 and and iPad $400. Plenty of money left over for a keyboard (which would work on the iPad too) and mouse. Hook it up to a TV just like your TI.

          Besides, there are kid friendly programming tools for the iPad like Hopscotch. Scratch is rumored to be coming as well. For more advanced programmers there's Python. An iPad plus bluetooth keyboard is a far less expensive and
    • Wsh has scripting and comes with windows. Ie has the same.

      And they can get .net and studio express for free if they are so inclined.

      This is an improvement over basic, and no need to dismiss it just because its not pointy clicky like office.

    • If kids want to code now, the options are expensive, complicated, and are not included in the price of 'Windows.'

      There are a ton of open source tools out there (not to mention Microsoft's Visual Studio Express is free). I'm not sure how much teachers know about these tools, but that's a different issue.

    • by bmajik (96670)

      Your conclusion is entirely wrong.

      Because Microsoft doesn't do the things YOU think Microsoft should do, you can ascertain the motivations and goals of Microsoft?

      How interesting. Suppose we hire you to lead our CS education strategy. Can you promise results? Are you willing to bet your career on your prophecies coming true?

      Let me tell you what IS true.

      Microsoft lets me -- and many other MS employees -- volunteer to teach CS in public K-12 schools, 1 hour a day, before heading into the office for our "rea

  • by erp_consultant (2614861) on Monday April 07, 2014 @10:52AM (#46683717)

    If we want kids better prepared, with the skills that MS claims are lacking, maybe we should spend less money on sports and more money in the classroom?

    • by hodet (620484)

      Sports? What physical education. My god man, you want kids to get even fatter? Take away their xbox would be a good first step.

      • I'm not suggesting that we eliminate physical education. Kids clearly need exercise. I'm suggesting that we stop building multi million dollar stadiums for high school kids to play football in. Scale it back a bit and put some of the money into the classroom. In my view, more kids are benefited from classroom education than sports.

        The problem is that sports generate a lot of money for schools, so they figure the bigger the stadium the more money they make. Which begs the question - what is the real purpose

  • That exists. I'm not sure programmable office is entirely necessary when they're giving that away.
  • MIT has been debating to add a computer science requirement for over 30 years. Interesting Idaho schools has beaten them. MIT came pretty close a few years ago proposing to replace the 2nd required physics course with an engineering choice, one which could be computer science.

    The arguments AGAINST this new requirment include that (1) MIT already specifies 7(*) of the 16 year long courses the average undergraduate takes. Another would start to eat in the requirments of intensive majors like engineering
    • When I attended CMU, I know at least the colleges of science, engineering, and even business have a required computer science course.
    • OK, unless there's some "computers for dummies" class on the curriculum, I see no point to this. I see a lot of people frustrated with computers and unless you're going to hand feed them very practical information (backups, virus protection, safe browsing, etc.) you're just going to turn them off even more.

  • Office is a avery intricate application. Many mobile apps ae more self-contained. Plus a gaming type app might capture more attention of teens than a dull business application.
  • There are lots of free programming languages and tools out there that I think would be a lot more interesting to kids. If Microsoft wants more programming/engineering kids coming out of schools why don't they donate a bunch of Raspberry Pis, BeagleBones, Arduinos, or Lego Mindstorms?

    VBA has got to be one of the least engaging programming tools out there. I'm not saying there's anything in particular wrong with it and it can be very useful to businesses but it's hardly going to inspire any kid who might b
  • How many of those '1,332,784,839 lines of code' were written in Python on a Raspberry Pi? Both of which are things Microsoft would really rather not support (like the Baptists do not like to support having sex while standing up, because it might lead to dancing).
  • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Monday April 07, 2014 @11:24AM (#46684081)

    "Over at Microsoft on the Issues, Microsoft continues to lament the gap between computer programming skills and a willingness to work on the cheap of American kids, while simultaneously lobbying for more H-1B visas to fill that gap."

    It's far cheaper to rent an H1B programmer who you can dump easily once their skills are outdated than to hire someone , train them to keep skills current, and pay based on demand for those skills.

  • TDF should be pushing their scriptable LibreOffice [libreoffice.org], and point out the benefits of not having to purchase it either now or in the future, the freedom of open formats, and also the benefits from a "smart kids" point of view to giving them an open-sourced office suite they can tinker with.

    If companies see value in using Microsoft's full suite and stack, more power to them both. In the mean time, from an educational, budget and general open formats point of view, LibreOffice is the way to go.

    Heck, if it's about

  • No. Don't torture them. On day 1 of class the teacher explains it, perhaps like this:

    "Programming languages are keys that open doors in the computer. Some open more doors than others. Some open them in a different way. Some computers come with keys and some don't. There are a lot of choices on how to solve this problem. The way I've chosen is.... (teachers tells them what, perhaps even why.)".

    See. No big problem, really. The students learn that a language may or may not come with the system, and t

  • by Tom (822) on Monday April 07, 2014 @11:49AM (#46684401) Homepage Journal

    Teaching kids programming is a total and complete waste of money.

    Those who are interested will learn by themselves. Those who aren't, won't even if you make it mandatory. But the unintended consequences are what's going to get you: Everyone will think that programming is easy because it's something the kids learn.

    School should teach basic skills that can then be applied to programming, but also to a long list of other skills. Teach critical thinking, logic, math. Teach people how to learn, not what. Teach them reading comprehension so they can study on their own. Teach them trial-and-error and that failure is an option because it teaches you what you did wrong.

    Most of all, don't solve a shortage of programmers by creating a million bad and counterproductive ones. You don't solve a shortage of doctors by giving random people scalpels and a license to cut open bellies, do you?

    Good programmers are a lot more difficult to find than any programmer. I'd rather hire one good guy then five students for the same price.

  • No! Nobody in their right mind should be "programming" in VBA. Especially not kids. Who the hell wrote this article!?
  • "It is practically impossible to teach good programming style to students that have had prior exposure to Basic; as potential programmers they are mentally mutilated beyond hope of regeneration".
    - Edsger Dijkstra

  • all the articles would be lamenting how MS gave the kiddies the tools to hack. Maybe all these authors can get off their asses and instead of commenting how bad MS/Apple/Google/Samsung/Etc. are maybe they could do something of value to the effort themselves. Oh, that's right - it's much easier to write and point fingers.
  • Visual Studio Express [visualstudio.com] is Microsoft's zero-cash programming environment. Why do you want a high-cost office suite with a lousy macro engine to be discounted to free when they already offer their actual development suite pro bono. It's upgradeable to more complete Visual Studio versions later. This will encourage Microsoft-centric code, but that can be avoided and it's less specific of a tie-in than VBA. C#, C, C++, and more are included.

    If you don't want to be tied to Microsoft-specific tools even on Windows there are other options. Those include other office suites and other actual development tools.

    LibreOffice/OpenOffice have OOBasic and can be scripted with Python and Java if you really want. These things are zero-cash and open source.

    You can use Lazarus and FreePascal (Wikipedia article about FreePascal [wikipedia.org]) or Eclipse [eclipse.org] and Java/C/C++ if you'd rather. Or you could use Eric [python-projects.org] and Python [python.org]. Or Padre [perlide.org] and Strawberry Perl [strawberryperl.com], complete with MinGW [strawberryperl.com]. Some of the IDEs are more or less general and language agnostic, while others are mainly narrowly targeted.

    Don't forget MsysGit (git for Windows) [github.io] if you're not using Cygwin [cygwin.com] and haven't already chosen a version control system.

    Really, you could be teaching with a good programmer's editor rather than specifically with IDEs too. vim [vim.org], Emacs [gnu.org], jEdit [jedit.org], Gedit [gnome.org], and others are applicable. Some of them are powerful enough to make that line between editors and IDEs very fuzzy.

    What, exactly, would a free copy of Word get you that isn't already available?

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