IDA partners Microsoft to bring ‘computational thinking’ to the people
Programme aims to reach 1.2 million Singaporeans by 2018
THE Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) and US technology giant Microsoft Corp have embarked on an ambitious plan to transform Singapore into a ‘computational thinking’ nation by teaching coding skills to the masses.
The IDA and Microsoft have partnered to launch ‘Code for Change,’ a three-year programme that aims to teach 1.2 million Singaporeans various levels of coding, in the hopes of developing computational thinking in the city-state.
Through it, Singaporeans will be exposed to programming languages like Kodu and Visual Basic, as well as frameworks like Project Spark and .Net.
The Code for Change programme follows Microsoft’s other educational programmes such as ‘Innovate for Good’ in Malaysia.
Computational thinking is defined as the ability to dissect problems and formulate solutions by drawing from concepts in computer science. It is expected to be an increasingly important skillset in the future.
“Singapore is building itself into a ‘Smart Nation’,” said IDA executive chairman Steve Leonard.
“The opportunity now is to create a culture of experimentation in which students are both curious and confident when working with technology,” he added.
Code for Change was launched in the wake of an Asia Pacific-wide survey Microsoft conducted in February, where 66% of students said they wished their schools offered coding as a core subject.
In addition, 72% of students regard coding as important for their careers, with even 64% of arts and humanities students regarding coding as important for their careers.
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources and Minister-in-Charge of Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative, launched the programme at Microsoft Singapore’s office. The main launch was accompanied by four other satellite launches at various institutes of learning.
In his speech, he emphasised how Singapore has to be prepared to seize opportunities and not be left behind.
Meanwhile Microsoft Singapore managing director Jessica Tan said that her company was committed to empowering youth with the necessary skills to solve problems.
As proof that coding can be done at any level, six-year-old Sophie Curic gave a presentation at the launch to show off her creations, such as the ‘impertinent buzzer.’
Even at her tender age, she has already worked on programming platforms such as Kodu, Scratch, Makey Makey, Lightbot and Arduino.
Code for Change will encompass various programmes catering for different education levels.
For the lower primary levels, Kodu Game Lab Workshops will teach students how to develop games through simple visual programming.
For the upper primary to lower secondary levels, the Hour of Code programme will give students access to modules to learn the basics of computer science.
For the secondary to junior college levels, TouchDevelop programmes will allow students to create apps across any platform.
TouchDevelop allows for coding with no need for a keyboard to write scripts. Project Spark will also be available for students to build worlds and create stories through an interactive environment, Microsoft said.
For institutes of higher learning, the Microsoft Imagine Cup will give students a chance to design and compete for the title of the best new web services for the year.
Team Mozter, a team from Singapore’s Temasek Polytechnic, has made it to this year’s global competition after winning the Singapore and Asia Pacific rounds. Their concept project identifies a mosquito through the number of times it flaps its wings in a second.
Meanwhile, the Microsoft IT Academy will provide educators with fundamental skills to navigate the technology landscape.
Finally, for everyone else, Microsoft is giving access to YouthSpark, a programme where tools, learning resources and tutorials would be made available for them to start learning how to code.
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