Sunday, September 20, 2015

Microsoft To Invest $75 Million in Computer Science Education

Last week Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced a $75 million commitment to increase their YouthSpark program to increase access to computer science for all youth worldwide. A big part of that in the US is apparently an expansion of the TEALS program.”TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) program brings computer science education to high school students and teachers.” and it has long had support from  Brad Smith, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer.
TEALS is a great program that puts software professional in classrooms with experienced teachers. The teachers help the software people teach and the teachers help prepare to teach CS themselves. It’s sort of two programs in one and seems to have some great success.
Where is the rest of the money going? From the press release:
  • Global philanthropic investments with nonprofits in 80 countries, including the Center for Digital Inclusion in Latin America, Silatech in the Middle East and Africa, CoderDojo Foundation in Europe, YCAB Foundation in Asia, and many others, will deliver a range of computing skills from digital literacy to computer science education to youth in local communities around the world.
  • Microsoft Imagine connects students with the tools, resources and experiences they need to turn their innovative ideas into reality. Whether it’s building a game or designing an app, Microsoft Imagine makes learning to code easy and accessible for students and educators, no matter their age or skill level and at no cost. Whether it’s free cloud services like Azure, online competitions via Imagine Cup that educators can incorporate into their curriculum, or fun self-serve learning tutorials, Microsoft Imagine helps bring a student’s technology passion to life through computer science.
  • YouthSpark Hub resources are designed to inspire youth about the full spectrum of computing skills, ranging from digital literacy to computer science engineering. In addition to providing access to the Microsoft Imagine tools, the YouthSpark Hub brings together opportunities to participate in activities such as DigiGirlz and YouthSpark Live, attend free YouthSpark Camps at the Microsoft Stores, and access training through nonprofit organizations supported by Microsoft around the world.
A lot of this has been going on for a while. I wonder if this announcement in incremental increase of the cost of what has been going on to continue. Yes, I’m a bit more skeptical these days. It seems to me there used to be more resources for CS teachers from Microsoft The faculty connection (there used to be a high school specific section of that) seems to be gone. That used to me my “go to place” to send teachers for teaching resources.  DreamSpark is still around but doesn’t seem to be promoted as much. Honestly with Visual Studio Community edition and free editions of Microsoft Expression Web it’s not as necessary as it once was though. The curriculum resources are harder to find though. I miss there being a person at Microsoft whose job it was to help HS CS teachers. It doesn’t have to be me (been there, done that, have a box of t-shirts) but it would be nice if there was an easily identifiable person or better yet team we could go to for help. I miss that.

2 comments:

Arta Szathmary said...

Alfred,

I was recently contacted by someone from our local (philadelphia) area that has been hired by microsoft to help teachers in the area. She will be doing a session of Touch Develop at our STEMgirlz workshop in Bucks County on October 17, 2015. I chatted with her for a few minutes, and it seems she is part of a larger program developed at Microsoft.

Arta Szathmary

Garth said...

I really miss not having the direct connection to Microsoft you provided. Microsoft has a lot for educators but now it is just stuff I stumble on. The Creative Coding course looks interesting but just handing it out and expecting teachers to have time to learn and implement it on their own is a bit much. Project Spark is the same. MS needs to have regional educational coordinators to sponsor summer sessions if they really want this stuff to get to teachers and students. Of course I cannot imagine this stuff is a big money maker.

I am just really glad you stayed in education.