Everybody should learn to code. That’s a statement that we’ve been hearing a lot for the past 3-4 years. From an article we got back in 2016, to the numerous workshops and hackathons on coding that we’ve covered, it’s pretty clear that coding and learning to program will play an important part in the future. It’s not only us who think so though. Microsoft is of the same thought as well.

Celebrating Computer Science

On Friday, 8th of February 2018, the tech giant held their flagship computer science workshop. This was in commemoration of the Computer Science Education Week.  The purpose here is to inspire and encourage children to take an interest in computer science.

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The purpose behind the Computer Science Education Week is to encourage students to pick Computer science as a field of study (Image Credits: ACCESS)

The workshop, held at the Microsoft Sri Lanka office at Access Towers 2 saw over 100 students taking part. The students, representing public and private schools were also joined by underserved youth from in and around Colombo. Once gathered, the participants were invited to take part in a gamified approach to coding.

Microsoft does it again

If you recall, we attended a session like this in 2017 as well. The coding exercise, called Voyage Aquatic, took the form of an underwater treasure hunt. To make things even more interesting, the exercise employed elements from Minecraft (similar to Hero’s Journey in 2017).

Participants had to complete certain objectives by using the blocks. Each block was coded to perform a certain action. In this manner, the students learned about the logic of each function, and also learned how to code it.

Microsoft
Students learning to code via a Minecraft exercise

Coding is for everyone

In a parallel session, students from grades 10-12 were taught about the BBC Micro: bit. Carried out by members of Micro: bit SLUG, the session covered the basics such as what a Micro:bit is, and what it can be used for. Students were also given a hands on approach to coding their own Micro: bit by means of virtual and physical Micro:bit kits.

Microsoft
Older students were taught the uses of Micro:bit and IoT

Getting Teachers future-ready

Last, but by no means the least, a workshop was also carried out for teachers. The workshop was carried out by Microsoft Certified Educators (MCEs. Here, teachers were encouraged to facilitate real-world problem solving by means of ICT tools. In addition, teachers were also educated on the technology literacy competencies required to provide a wholesome learning experience for students.

Microsoft
There was also a workshop for teachers as well

Following the end of the workshop, certificates were handed to all who participated. This included both students and teachers. Hasitha Abeywardena – Country Manager Microsoft Sri Lanka and the Maldives took the stage to talk about what Microsoft is aiming to do with the Computer Science Education Day.

He emphasized that all efforts are to help bridge the gap in STEM education. He added that more than 50% of jobs today require technology skills. By 2026, it is estimated that the number would grow to 77% of jobs worldwide.

Hasitha Abeywardena – Country Manager Microsoft Sri Lanka and the Maldives

With platforms such Micro:bit and Voyage Aquatic, students can gain the required knowledge so that they can have a successful future. We saw events such as the Global Game Jam as well, where participants were encouraged to step into the world of game development as well. All these efforts go to show that the world is indeed changing, and it is up to us to keep up with the trends.

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