Posted: Dec 6, 2018

A simultaneous, statewide Hour of Code involving nearly 100 schools will be held in North Dakota on Friday, December 7, in conjunction with Computer Science Education Week. Chief Information Officer Shawn Riley, along with Gov. Doug Burgum, Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler, and more than 30 Microsoft volunteers are supporting the event – the first known effort happening at the same time statewide in the nation. Initiated and coordinated by Microsoft, the Hour of Code is part of a broader statewide effort to teach students computer science and provide valuable resources to educators, including training and professional development, to help every student graduate with these essential skills.

Nearly 100 schools, with an estimated 5,000 students from across the state, will be participating in Hour of Code. Schools are encouraged to share their involvement on social media and use “#HourofCodeND.” The Hour of Code started as a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify "code” to show that anybody can learn the basics, and to broaden participation in the field of computer science. It has since become a worldwide movement.

“As stated in my 2019 – 2021 budget address, education and workforce go hand in hand as today’s students are prepared for tomorrow’s economy,” said Gov. Burgum. “Teaching students 21st century technology skills like coding can help them succeed in any career, and we celebrate the thousands of students, educators, administrators, and volunteers who are participating in Hour of Code.”

“North Dakota students are excited to explore the world of computer science,” said Riley. “We are proud to partner with Microsoft and to amplify the importance of these skills in a world where technology knowledge from coding to cybersecurity is valuable regardless of career path.”

“Computer science skills are key competencies for students to learn because technology skills will be essential to their success in pursuing good paying jobs and thriving in their careers,” said Taya Spelhaug, Microsoft TechSpark North Dakota Manager. “We want as many students as possible to have a hands-on opportunity for coding through the Hour of Code, and we appreciate Governor Burgum, CIO Riley and Superintendent Baesler for their strong support to make North Dakota’s first statewide Hour of Code possible.” 

“Public opinion surveys say a large majority of parents believe it is almost as important for their children to know computer science, and be able to write code, as it is for them to be able to read, write and do mathematics,” said Kirsten Baesler, North Dakota’s superintendent of schools. “The Hour of Code helps to fire our students’ enthusiasm for writing software language. It helps them to learn a skill they could turn into a high-paying career. It gives them a keener insight of our modern world, in which everything that affects their lives is influenced in some way by technology, computer science and software language.”

Previously, districts and classes have participated in Hour of Code on an ad hoc basis. This is the first time a concerted, statewide approach has been pursued. It reflects a holistic, whole-of-government approach to promoting technology education in the state – also known as the “K-20W Initiative” for “kindergarten through PhD and workforce.” North Dakota’s Department of Public Instruction has also posted draft integrated computer and cyber science K-12 standards, the first state nationally to emphasize cybersecurity. The draft standards are available here and the public may comment here until Dec. 21.

To see an Hour of Code event live, media are invited to attend Northern Cass Elementary School this Friday, or reach out directly to local schools in your area.

When:      Friday, Dec. 7

Time:        1-3 p.m. CT

Where:     Northern Cass Elementary School

     16021 18th St. SE, Hunter, ND 58048

Contact:  Paul Staats, WE Communications:, (425) 638-7109