As technology continues to evolve at an accelerated pace, transforming the way we live and work in the process, we find ourselves navigating the challenges of an always-changing digital landscape. Understanding the principles of computing is quickly becoming an essential skill. It provides people with a keen understanding of how technology impacts their lives, empowers them to become full participants in society, and unlocks a wide range of career opportunities. This is especially true for today’s students, who will rely on computing skills throughout their lives, making it necessary for them to have opportunities to learn Computer Science (CS).
A report by LinkedIn and Microsoft revealed that 149 million new digital jobs will be created by 2025 in fields such as software development, data analysis, cybersecurity, and AI. However, education cannot currently meet the growing demand for people with CS skills. As of October 2022, only 33% of technology jobs worldwide were filled by the adequately skilled. And by 2030, the global shortage of tech workers will represent an $8.5 trillion loss in annual revenue, according to research cited by the International Monetary Fundi.
“Around the world, technology is opening up opportunities for new ways to solve the challenges and needs of businesses and organizations, everything from technology-focused [industries] to agriculture, healthcare, financial services, transportation and so many more. They’re all struggling to find the talent they need to fill many of the jobs.” – Christina Thoresen, Director of Worldwide Education Industry Sales Strategy at Microsoft
A growing interest in CS curricula
Learning coding and software development, two key parts of CS, has been shown to improve students' creativity, critical thinking, math, and reasoning skillsii. CS skills like problem-solvingiii and planningiv are transferable and can be applied across other subjects. A 2020 study examining the effects of CS courses on students’ academic careers in the United States showed that they have a significant impact on the likelihood of enrolling in collegev. Moreover, CS can be useful for many courses and degrees including biology, chemistry, economics, engineering, geology, mathematics, materials science, medicine, physics, psychology, and sociologyvi.
CS curricula that are relevant and engaging provide an additional benefit in that they attract traditionally marginalized groups and girls and empower those with lower access to technological resources to develop high value skills, and unlock new and exciting career opportunities. It is also worth noting that due to enduring talent shortages, CS-related fields consistently offer above-average pay and have the fastest-growing wagesvii.
How Microsoft supports CS implementation
Microsoft has been helping educational institutions around the world develop rich CS curricula that empower all students with the skills they need to confidently transition from classroom to career. By creating content that is meaningful and engaging for all students, as well as helping promote equal access to CS in school, Microsoft is fulfilling its commitment to making learning more inclusive and equitable. One of the principal resources for this is Microsoft’s Computer Science Guide (MCSG), a comprehensive CS framework that includes:
- An implementation plan
- Training for educators
- Lesson and project suggestions
- Practical guidance for coding activities
An important part of building up students’ CS capabilities is to engage learners as early as possible, which encourages and supports creative expression and the development of computational thinking skills. However, CS curriculums at the national level often focus on ICT or simple coding exercises and offer little in terms of immersive, hands-on experiences that feel relevant, authentic, and inclusive. The MCSG was made to engage students of all ages through a learner-centric curriculum using constructivism, hands-on activities, problem-solving, and inquiry-based approaches that are often linked to real-world challengesviii.
CS curriculum design can also help address a well-documented gender divideix by engaging all students as early as primary school using relevant and meaningful content. It can ensure that all students have access to CS courses based on their needs and abilities, regardless of socio-economic status, race, ethnicity, or special learning needs. Additionally, as students are likely to encounter changes in technology that are difficult to imagine over the course of their education, another key goal of the MCSG is to be future-proof by incorporating subjects that are likely to be highly relevant well into the future.
“Computer science skills are critical to succeed in today’s economy, but too many students – especially those from diverse backgrounds and experiences – are excluded from computer science. That’s why we’ve created a new resource guide which we hope will help teachers build inclusive computer science education programs.” -Naria Santa Lucia, General Manager of Digital Inclusion and Community Engagement for Microsoft Philanthropies
Georgia Ministry of Education develops national CS program
In 2022, the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia launched a pilot program to test how the Microsoft CS Curriculum could be integrated into primary classes as part of a national campaign to introduce broader CS concepts and computational thinking to K-12 learning. The pilot project focused on two ICT teachers and was reviewed by volunteer educators from other cities. An advisory board was formed consisting of experts from the National Curriculum Department.
The process involved translating the Foundation Phase of the Microsoft CS Curriculum Toolkit into Georgian, as well as weekly meetings to discuss progress. In the end, the teachers designed two curriculums for the 2nd and 3rd grades, and the project team made a recommendation for a completely new framework concept that considered the existing National Curriculum context, the integration of the Microsoft CS Curriculum Framework, as well as additional concepts from the Computer Science Teachers Association.
Learn more about computer science with Microsoft
It is no longer possible to ignore the critical importance of CS skills to students whose lives are going to revolve around their ability to understand and engage with technology, both at work and in their day-to-day. At Microsoft Education, our goal is to empower every learner on the planet to achieve more. That is why we are working together with governments and education leaders around the world to implement CS in schools and ensure that students feel included, supported, and empowered to confidently follow their passions and achieve great success both in their careers and in life.
- Start building a CS curriculum using the Microsoft Computer Science Curriculum Toolkit.
- To inspire a STEM passion in K-12 learners and teach them how to code with purpose, use Minecraft’s Computer Science Progression.
- Find out how the Microsoft TEALS Program can help you create access to equitable, inclusive CS education and learn more about building inclusive economic growth.
- Enlist one of Microsoft's Global Training Partners to support your educators to incorporate CS into their curriculum and teaching practices.
iii Can Majoring in CS Improve General Problem-solving Skills?, ACM, Salehi et al., 2020
iv The effects of coding on children's planning and inhibition skills, Computers & Education, Arfé et al., 2020
viii Kotsopoulos, D., Floyd, L., Khan, S., Namukasa, I.K., Somanath, S., Weber, J. & Yiu, C. (2017) A Pedagogical Framework for Computational Thinking. Digital Experiences in Mathematics Education vol. 3, pages 154–171(2017)