Factors like increased levels of globalisation have combined with rapid technological development and industry disruption to create an environment whereby individuals with highly sought after skills such as app developers, are able to create their own businesses or apply their skillsets for project work for many companies from anywhere in the world, at any time. This is the word from Claudia Johnston, education sector lead at Microsoft South Africa.

The latter is a new type of self-employment in which skilled workers are no longer employed by one company over an extended period of time, but operate within a gig economy. In order for students to be able to thrive within the gig economy or go on to become entrepreneurs, whose businesses can cater to the needs of a global market, they have to be empowered with the right skillsets today.

This entails the mastery of 21st Century learning skills that includes creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking. These skills enable students to communicate and listen effectively, learn from case studies and practical examples, obtain the ability to assess information, apply critical thinking to solve problems and allow them to become and remain digitally literate.

One of the avenues through which this happens in the school setting is Hour of Code, which is an initiative aimed at expanding participation in computer science, by making it available in more schools and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of colour.


An Hour of Code a day to keep lack of opportunities away

“Computer science is a critical skill for today’s students, and the Hour of Code is the first step in the journey towards computer science mastery,” says Claudia Johnston, Education sector lead at Microsoft South Africa.

In support of the global Hour of Code campaign, Microsoft will lead thousands of youth coding events in more than 60 countries during Computer Science Education week, which took place between 5 and 11 December.

In South Africa, there were training sessions in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban as well as Port Elizabeth. These events targeted high school and university students, recent graduates, along with teachers and parents.


Crafting a fun learning tool

At Hour of Code event, Microsoft released a new tutorial called “Minecraft Hour of Code Designer” to allow students to build their own simple Minecraft game. This new Minecraft Hour of Code Designer provides students and teachers with a unique opportunity to learn the basics of coding within the fun and familiar Minecraft world. Students can write their own rules for how the game works and how the creatures in the game behave.

Through the Hour of Code initiative, we aim to inspire millions of young people to try their hand at coding software, thereby enabling them to learn basic computer science skills. Microsoft believes every young person should have the opportunity to learn computer science, giving them the problem-solving and critical thinking skills required in our tech-fuelled world.