Microsoft in the News
With Christmas fast approaching many of you are starting to fret over what to get people for Christmas. For this reason, I decided to bring some of you up to speed on a neat little shopping assistant that plugs into Microsoft Edge.
The Microsoft Personal Shopping Assistant makes your on-line shopping experience just a little easier to manage. I’m not going to list all the features here, but one feature that caught my attention was that when you save an item to your favourites board, your shopping assistant will alert you when there are price changes.
This plug-in is getting great reviews and is available for free download at the Microsoft Store.
Computer Science Education
Never let schooling interfere with your education. Mark Twain
Next week (December 5 – 11) is Computer Science Education Week and Hour of Code 2016!
Last year over 10 million students engaged in an Hour of Code. This year Microsoft is launching Minecraft: Education Edition and a brand-new coding tutorial experience. Minecraft is a game that appeals to many age groups. A child’s current love of Minecraft, and a passion to explore, is all that is needed to fuel the opportunity to learn a few technology skills and realize the depth and breadth of fun, that technology can provide. Hour of Code and Microsoft are committed to reaching as many young people as possible, particularly those underrepresented in this field. Minecraft is a fantastic way to introduce it and this year they have another new tutorial for the Hour of Code.
All the Hour of Code Minecraft Tutorials can be found here.
If you think you could help in your local area, they are looking for volunteers. You can schedule your own Hour of Code at your local school or sign up here to volunteer at anytime during the year here.
If you ever wondered if this was important, I offer you a few stats from Code.org.
Computer science drives innovation throughout the US economy, but it remains marginalized throughout K-12 education.
Only 33 states allow students to count computer science courses toward high school graduation.
There are currently 517,393 open computing jobs nationwide.
Last year, only 42,969 computer science students graduated into the workforce.
These are obviously American stats but I am sure it is a similar story in nations across the Western world. Where I live in Canada, there is not a single computer science course offered within a hours drive. Some may suggest I have my kids do one online. We looked at that, and could not find one that did not require some form of coding experience. I even sent emails to the director of the on-line courses approved for high school credit. I asked if I could help get my child up to speed so that she could take the class. But even with multiple emails, we received no replies. At that point my child lost interest. When I asked the school about it they said there was not enough interest to hold a regular class.
I refuse to believe that our children are so willing to ignore the future in which they will be living. If the children are not interested, that is the fault of the adults charged with the duty of preparing children for their future. So, I applaud Microsoft, Code.org and Hour of Code for picking up the ball that we as parents and educators have dropped. These three organizations are making the art and science of coding easy and engaging again.
At the same school where I was told there was not enough interest, I have always had a great turnout for all my workshops. This year will be no different. Sometimes it is how you teach and not what you teach.
Let’s put the engagement back into learning!