A child raises his hands as he solves a coding problem as Apple CEO Tim Cook watches from behind at an Apple Store. About 191,034 individual hours of code events are taking place across the world this week, including 1,121 events in India. Photo: AP
A child raises his hands as he solves a coding problem as Apple CEO Tim Cook watches from behind at an Apple Store. About 191,034 individual hours of code events are taking place across the world this week, including 1,121 events in India. Photo: AP

Getting the world to code, one hour at a time

The website, www.hourofcode.com, features simple tutorials based on popular simulation games in order to get more people to participate in events promoting coding among individuals

Bengaluru:

> When run

> Move forward

> Destroy Block

Put these three blocks together and command a character from the popular game Minecraft to chop down a tree. Thousands of people, mainly school students, all over the world this week will spend an hour each doing something similar—making game characters run errands, explore new worlds, and create their own games—by coding on their own.

This is part of a global effort by US-based non-profit Code.org to introduce more students, women, and people of colour, to coding.

Backed by companies like Microsoft Corp. and Apple Inc. to individuals like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, the organisation initially started as a way to increase interest in computer science in the US but slowly morphed into a global movement to make more people computer-science savvy.

About 191,034 individual hours of code events are taking place across the world this week, including 1,121 events in India.

The organisation has set up a website, www.hourofcode.com, which features simple tutorials based on popular simulation game Minecraft, fantasy movie Star Wars, and a do it yourself (DIY) version of last year’s hit casual game—Flappy Birds—among others, in order to get more people to participate.

Anyone can help organize an event, and one-hour tutorials to help individuals code are available in over 30 languages, including Hindi. Volunteers who are well versed with computer science can offer to help out schools in conducting these. The non-profit has also introduced an offline version of the tutorials for those who don’t have Internet connectivity.

The tutorials on the site run using a visual programming language called Blockly, which makes use of graphical elements like blocks, instead of plain text, to help better understand how computer programs work.

It is easier to learn programming using a visual language rather than the usual text-based languages like C, Python, or Javascript since its drag-and-drop interface helps understand the logic of the program right instead of worrying about the rules (syntax) of the language.

Companies have also shown a keen interest in contributing to this cause.

Consulting firm Accenture Plc. has tied up with code.org to devote about 8,000 hours globally to conducting these events. Its senior management executives are also chipping in with the effort, with its chief human resources officer, Ellyn Shook, participating in the events at a school in Bengaluru.

CodersTrust, a Bangladesh-based firm that helps underprivileged students learn coding so that they can earn money on freelancing portals, is conducting events in Delhi and Mumbai by tying up with various NGOs, colleges and Microsoft Corp.

Francesco Stasi, head of India operations, CodersTrust, said that they aim to reach about 2,500 people through these events and spread awareness about computer science and their initiatives too, as they are set to expand in India.

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