Code With Google Wants to Fix Computer-Science Education

Google is pushing harder into education with Code with Google, a hub for the company’s various computer-science courses.

It’s a good PR move for Google, which has complained for years that the country’s educational pipeline isn’t optimized for teaching computer-science skills. The company’s previous educational efforts have included the Computer Science Summer Institute, a three-week computer science course for graduating high school seniors, and Howard West, a cooperative effort with Howard University to encourage more diversity in Silicon Valley.

Components of Code with Google include CS First, a (free) computer science curriculum for students aged 9-14, including lessons and activities. The hub also features a link to Grasshopper, a user-friendly app that teaches the fundamentals of JavaScript.

For older students, there are also courses in machine learning (which take place on actual campuses), Python programming, and data science; in theory, Google will guide educators in how to best teach these units.

Google is just one big tech company trying to teach the fundamentals of coding to kids. For example, Apple has spent the past few years aggressively pushing Swift Playgrounds, an app designed to teach anyone the principles of coding using Swift. And for advanced students, a variety of firms (including Microsoft and IBM) have online instruction for artificial intelligence (A.I.) and machine learning.

Those interested in learning other tech skills online (as opposed to turning to an in-person bootcamp or going back to school) can consider platforms such as Coursera and Udacity, many of which offer relatively cheap courses, specialized studies, and flexibility.

In fact, many tech companies are dropping their old requirements about degrees. Earlier this year, for example, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty told an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that tech firms should focus on hiring people with the right skills, whether or not they possess the right academic credentials.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has also suggested that half of Apple employees don’t have a degree. That’s great news for anyone who didn’t complete their traditional schooling. It also puts greater emphasis on skills—and the sooner you begin learning those, the better. Code with Google might help.