Microsoft’s $75M Plan to Expand Computer Science Education

The company wants to reach 30,000 students across 33 states with its new computer science outreach plan.

Microsoft announced it is committing $75 million to expand access to computer science education for students across the globe, particularly those from underrepresented populations.

The news was first announced on Sept. 16 by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at the 2015 Dreamforce conference.

“If we are going to solve tomorrow’s global challenges, we must come together today to inspire young people everywhere with the promise of technology,” said Nadella. “We can’t leave anyone out. We’re proud to make this $75 million investment in computer science education to create new opportunities for students across the spectrum of diverse youth and help build a tech talent pipeline that will spark new innovations for the future.”

Microsoft plans to meet its commitment through cash grants, nonprofit partnerships and special programs over the next three years. One such program is Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS), in which technology industry volunteers team up with teachers to teach computer science. The flagship program aims to reach 30,000 students in nearly 700 high schools in 33 states, with the help of 2,000 volunteers, according to a Microsoft news release.

Another way the company seeks to spark interest in students who may not exhibit interest in computer programming is through a free curriculum called Creative Coding Through Games and Apps, which teaches students how to program and publish apps and games using Microsoft Touch Develop.

“It’s not so much about learning Touch Develop,” said Tom Ball, a research manager in the software engineering group at Microsoft Research. “Touch Develop is the vehicle to learning about computer science concepts.”

Microsoft also has launched YouthSpark Hub to help students from diverse groups build digital skills and learn more about the computer science field. The initiative is designed to “inspire youth about the full spectrum of computing skills, ranging from digital literacy to computer science engineering.”

Microsoft isn't the only organization to expand the horizon of computer science education this month. Also on Sept. 16, the New York City Department of Education unveiled a 10-year plan to make computer science education available to 1.1 million students across all of its public schools.

The department’s plan will cost an anticipated $81 million, some of which will go toward training about 5,000 teachers, The New York Times reports.

The computer science classes will not be required for graduation, and some schools may choose to offer them only as electives.

moodboard/Thinkstock
Sep 28 2015