Will.i.am, Chris Bosh Want to Make Coding Education, Careers Cool

Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey – it’s little surprise that those titans of tech want to encourage more wannabe coders. But in a short film released Tuesday by the nonprofit Code.org, it’s not just the usual suspects talking up all the reasons why the U.S. needs more computer scientists.

Sure, Silicon Valley luminaries share the stories of their humble beginnings (Gates says his first program was for tic-tac-toe). But NBA all-star Chris Bosh talks about coding in college before joining the Miami Heat, and the Black-Eyed Peas’ Will.i.am says “great coders are today’s rockstars.”

The message of the film – just like the overarching theme of the nonprofit: the country needs more coders and, really, it’s not as hard as you think.

Code.org, which launched last month, was founded by brothers Ali and Hadi Partovi to bring more attention to the need for more coders and increase computer programming education opportunities at schools around the country. As evidence of the problem, it says:

– Less than two percent of students study computer programming – tripling that could close the gap between students and jobs.

– In 41 states, computer science doesn’t count toward high school graduation requirements.

– Programming jobs are growing at double the pace of other jobs, but programming is not offered at 90 percent of U.S. schools.

Code.org’s site offers learn-to-code tools supplied by Khan Academy, Codecademy and Scratch. And it has enlisted big-name supporters from different industries to help with its campaign. Other tech leaders include Marc Andreesen, Ron Conway and Sheryl Sandberg, but it has also recruited politicians Al Gore and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the presidents or deans of Stanford and Harvard, celebrities like Ashton Kutcher and Bono, and top scientists and doctors.

The short film, which was directed by Lesley Chilcott (producer of An Inconvenient Truth and Waiting for Superman), will be distributed to teachers and classrooms across the country. And, according to The Seattle Times, Microsoft is paying to have the movie shown as a trailer in select theaters.

Read more: Gigaom

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