"Computer Science Can Feed a Lot of Dreams"Image composite: Kukino/iStock/ThinkStock

Why should your students learn computer science? Pat Yongpradit from Code.org says it will help them think better — and it can help them unlock their dreams.

Pat Yongpradit is the director of education at Code.org. He leads all the education efforts, including professional development and curriculum creation, and he builds relationships with school districts. Pat joined us to talk about why it’s important to teach computer science — even if it’s not your subject.

Code.org is probably most well-known for the Hour of Code, an opportunity for students to try computer science for one hour. As of May, over 35 million users in 36 languages across 170 countries together wrote 1 billion lines of code in your 2013 Hour of Code and its follow-up course. What do you think the enormous appeal is?
PAT: For students, I’d say the enormous appeal is simply fun. I don’t think the kids go into the Hour of Code with the primary desire to learn computer science. I’m sure they’re interested in computer science and computer technology, but I think the primary reason why it was successful was because it was engaging.

It’s partly because of the high level of community involvement that we were able to generate, and the community in this case is all stakeholders, including industry stakeholders like Apple that held Hour of Code workshops at all their retail stores. Microsoft did the same thing. In fact, Microsoft did a big employee push, really strongly suggesting to employees to go to their neighborhood schools and host in-person Hour of Code events.

A variety of organizations contributed their social media channels to promoting the Hour of Code, not to mention teachers and educational organizations like the Computer Science Teachers Association, the National Center for Women & Information Technology, and all of our tutorial providers.

Why is it is important to teach students how to code?
PAT: I’ll start with the misconception that learning to code is what Code.org is all about. It’s a little bit broader than that. It’s about learning computer science, which is different than coding.

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