Code.org's Star-Studded Video Calls Out Poor State of Computer Science Education in U.S.

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By 2020, there will be 1 million more computer jobs in the U.S. than there will be people to fill them. Only one in 10 U.S. schools teaches computer programming. There are fewer computer science degree graduates today than there were 10 years ago, with less than 2.4 percent of graduates opting for this major. And, according to Will.i.am, "great coders are today's rock stars."

If these stats surprise you, good. That's exactly what the new nonprofit Code.org is going for with its campaign to raise awareness of the growing need for computer science education. A video promoting its cause, released earlier this week, features tech celebrities like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Dropbox founder Drew Houston and Miami Heat's Chris Bosh. Wait...

Yes, the NBA All-Star studied computer programming in school and even was part of an after-school program for coders called Whiz Kids.

"And when people found out, they laughed at me, you know, all these things, and I'm like, man, I don't care," says Bosh in the video. "I think it's cool. I'm learning a lot, and some of my friends have jobs."

Code.org is furthering its mission by providing a database of computer science classes, resources to help bring classes to schools, and a listing of online tools for kids to learn coding. It is also organizing volunteers and asking for donations.

The video makes it clear that part of what the organization is trying to do is to erase the stigma that computer programmers are nerds who sit alone in the dark and chug coffee all night while writing code and playing Minecraft. The people selected for the video go against that stereotype, comparing coders to superheros and talking about how it's "not unlike playing an instrument or sport" and just a "different way to express creativity."

The other assumption it's aiming to squash: That only geniuses can program. The video poses the question, "Do you have to be a genius to read?"

A shorter version of the 9-plus-minute film is below, but click here to view the full video, "What Most Schools Don't Teach."  To learn more about Code.org, its founders, Hadi and Ali Partovi, are hosting a Reddit AMA today at 12:30 CST.

And, if you are a programmer, go out there and be the rock star Will.i.am wants you to be!

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Contributor

Dana Gagnon

is the Director of Branded Content at Pluralsight. After working for years in Chicago media, she joined the team in 2012 to continue bringing quality news, tips and more to Pluralsight's audience. Find her @ChicagoDana or on Google+.