Host a ScriptEd Advanced Class This School Year

Here’s something great your company can do to help inner city kids, engage your employees in rewarding volunteer work, and do all of this inside the four walls of your office.

ScriptEd is a non-profit working to help youth from low-income high schools access careers in the tech industry. They recruit developers to volunteer to teach a foundational course in front-end web development in high schools around the city. After completing this course, students move on to the Advanced Class, a project-based course that focuses on advanced JavaScript skills.

These classes are held once a week throughout the school year in the offices of ScriptEd’s company partners. Classes typically last for 2 hours and are held in the late afternoon (usually 4-6pm). Volunteers teach in teams of four, supported by a ScriptEd Program Manager. Training and curriculum is also provided.

This year, classes will take place at Etsy, Salesforce, and HBC Digital, amongst others. ScriptEd is still looking for a couple more companies to host classes. This is a great opportunity to do skills-based volunteering without having to leave the office. It’s also a way for your company to create opportunity for a group of students, and to make a meaningful contribution to diversity in tech.

If you think your company might be a good fit for a ScriptEd Advanced Class, please contact Corporate Partnerships Manager Kate Holzman at [email protected].

#hacking education

Comments (Archived):

  1. Peter Connor

    Great to see this being supported.

  2. William Mougayar

    One day, teaching programming in high school will be just like teaching litterature, history, geography or any other regular subject. Until then, we need to keep pushing on it.

    1. JimHirshfield

      What about spelling?

      1. jason wright

        wot about it?

      2. aminTorres

        I see a bunch of “damn you autocorrect” that only geeks will understand…This is when William and the rest of us will know we’ve succeeded.

      3. LE

        With spell checkers all over the place spelling isa bit anachronistic. It’s important but not nearly what it was back in the day where there was only a dictionary to consult. Remember the big deal everyone made about the Dan Quail typo? Honestly who cares? Intellectuals, academics, authors, pundits and writers that’s who. Everyday people probably liked him more because of that that he was vulnerable in that way.

    2. Matt Zagaja

      While I love that access to coding classes is being improved, I’m not sure I’m convinced it’s as foundational as these other subjects. I think it’s going to remain an elective. Plenty of people will continue to become attorneys, accountants, and social workers without needing to learn to code.

      1. William Mougayar

        well, everything looks like an elective early on, until you know what you want to specialize in and what you are good at. If you don’t expose children to a variety of fields, how they know what they like? Computer Science/Programming is just like any other field, but we don’t see it that way because it’s new. You think I enjoyed chemistry or literature? I didn’t. But I loved math and physics.

        1. LE

          Sure but exposure to something and having it be a core requirement (like math and writing skills which pretty much everyone needs) are not the same. I would argue that it really isn’t core in the same way those other things are. I’d honestly rather have people take classes in how government works or in relationships and people and life skills than learning to code.Can someone gain from it? For sure. But it will replace something else that at one point was felt to be important and maybe still is. Or maybe not. Personally I am all for cutting out some of the excess time kids spend on certain after school activities.

          1. William Mougayar

            well, we can argue that software technology will be as core as math, science and other core topics. I think it will be.

      2. LE

        Exactly. Programming has been hot since before you were born but the push is only relatively lately and driven by the pot of riches that everyone is chasing at the top of the pyramid. Not saying there isn’t increased demand for these skills (or less need for attorneys which previously was a goto profession) but this push for everyone to gain from coding also means that they have to cut something else out of the curriculum. [1] We are seeing the same thing with entrepreneurship which of course existed forever but was not as mainstream or revered as it is today. [2] I’ve told the story of my girlfriends mother sneering when I graduated and said I was going to start a small company on my own. It was if I said I was going to be on the Trump campaign to loyal democrats is the best way to describe it.[1] Which I am all for since I think there are many more beneficial things that kids have to learn today than memorizing what people did 200 years ago.[2] Both of these things share something in common with sports, music or entertainment as there is a core of people who immediately are drawn to it regardless of the money to be made for the love of it.

        1. Richard

          Its not about a pot of riches, its about being employable over the next 15-20 years. Programming is now integral to careers in finance, biology, engineering, communications, and the list goes on. Google the programming language R or Python and any career and you will see objective evidence of this.

          1. LE

            Fine but ignores the fact that you would have been very employable with these skills prior to the current run-up but for some reason it wasn’t seen as attractively (or hyped) as it is today. Even though the demand and opportunity was clearly there. Separately as more people enter the field and supply exceeds demand wages will drop (as they did with law except for the people at the top or those who actually get jobs). Further at least with law (not saying that is something someone should do btw) it doesn’t change like languages and the flavor of the year do. As you get older, harder to learn the latest language when you are established and need higher pay vs. someone who is younger, learns faster and doesn’t have kids.

          2. Richard

            It may seem that way from 30,000 ft. But in the trenches, R and Python today are the equivalent of excel in the 1990s.

          3. sigmaalgebra

            For Python or R to be very important, there is a challenge, and it’s not coding or computer science. Instead, the first, main challenge is some applied math, in particular for R, some statistics. To do well with Python and R, maybe quite a lot of statistics or other applied math. Sure, for such applied math, need a computer to do the arithmetic. Soooooo, too often people conclude that the need is computing and coding and that the academic foundation is computer science. Wrong. For Python and R, the coding is supposed to be trivial to learn. The challenge is the math. Similarly, being a good cardiologist is more than knowing how to operate an EKG machine.But, beyond the math, also need a sense of how to establish a fact, e.g., have an hypothesis and test it.My experience is that people will be very slow to get the math, science background to get any significant utility out of Python or R. Then in a few years, the interest in Python, R, and coding will decline to the level, say, of being a chef, auto body repair guy, landscape architect, etc.

        2. jason wright

          coding is the new literacy, but reading and writing long since ceased to be the difference in the jobs market. i expect AI to render coding skills obsolete for the majority in the fullness of time.

  3. awaldstein

    Question–Is programming math, science or language in normal curriculum?Everyone learns those and curious where this fits. Or does it?

    1. fredwilson

      No. It is an elective in most high schools in NYC. But there will be at least 40 (out of 400) high schools that will emphasize software engineering where it will be mandatory and a four year program will be offered

    2. panterosa,

      Arnold, I would even put coding into the continuum of art/design/shop/maker space….t’s building/making/creating

  4. panterosa,

    What design skills are required are taught to go along with coding? I love the idea of ScriptEd, but kids need design to make their creations makes sense and be easy to navigate. My high school students at the YWCA had horrible design for the app class I taught – even though their ideas were original and great.

    1. Matt Zagaja

      At the Code for Boston meet ups I attend design skills are a huge deficit. While plenty of veteran coders will show up (and many new coders), people who have experience in the coding adjacent professions (described… ) simply do not seem to exist in the ecosystem and therefore the group lacks senior people with these skills to help the new people that might want to learn to do these things. Not sure if it’s a matter of expanding the recruiting pitch in some way, or if people in these adjacent fields are just less likely to participate in “Code” meet ups?

      1. panterosa,

        I try not to be a design snob, because that was not done at RISD, but a design promoter. I wonder why the Design Thinking folks aren’t rubbing elbows with the coding/hacking folks. Coding needs design thinking to make it sleek and elegant as the turn of a phrase.IMHO if your design is shit, no one will marvel over your coding skills.

        1. LE

          Part of this has to do with how the brain is different in those two groups. Once again, not everyone in either group. [1] But as a generality – yes. No question that I see that out there. And it’s driven from the top. Apple had a great design sense because Jobs had an appreciation for good design and saw it’s importance.[1] I am an amateur ‘designer’ going back to design tables and t squares and later using Pagemaker 1.0 on the first or 2nd Mac with a Linotronic. I am probably equally good at programming as I am at design. Which means not particularly good at either but good enough for what I need to accomplish prior to paying someone else. When I came up and fostered the sign policy at our commercial condo and I was amazed at how many board members didn’t understand the basics of not allowing certain elements on signs and in unit windows because it “craps” the place up. [2][2] As only one example I said no phone numbers, web addresses on signs (it’s not an advertisement) and type fonts, colors and size must be consistent and logos can’t be clip art and all signs require board approval. (Much more than that it was 2 pages long..)

      2. LE

        Agree. Part of the issue is that people without design skills or sense might appreciate great design when they see it, but they aren’t able to understand that it’s necessary when they don’t see it or if it’s missing. Also there is perhaps a tendency in computing to think that it’s all about building the better mousetrap and not recognizing that the look and feel is part of that mousetrap.

    2. sigmaalgebra

      RequestCould you say more about what you mean by design, especially for the goal of “makes sense and be easy to navigate”?I ask if only for myself and my startup, but anyone starting to write HTML, etc. might also want to know.I Designed Some ScreensI’ve done a LOT of software development, especially scientific-engineering, but my current startup was the first project where I needed a Web site. So, I designed the screens and wrote the code, yes, for the screens and everything else, maybe 25,000 programming language statements in about 100,000 lines of typing (right, there are lots of comments in the code; just typed the code into my favorite programmable text editor) with about 80,000 lines for the on-line code and the rest for occasional off-line usage.Main Software Development Tools UsedI used Microsoft’s Windows, Visual Basic .NET., ASP.NET, SQL Server, ADO.NET, and IIS with, right, a little C code. Except for the quality of the technical writing in the documentation, I’m happy enough with those tools. As far as I know I didn’t use MVC — model, view, controller. Microsoft’s ASP.NET writes a little JavaScript for me, but I never wrote even a single line of it. And there is no AJAX. There is also, so far, no use of cookies and no user IDs or passwords.The Web Page Elements, Etc.The HTML has no DIV elements. The screen layout is all via just tables with sizes and positions all directly in terms of pixels — each screen is exactly 800 pixels wide and as long as it needs to be for the content.My approach to mobile is just the same Web pages as for everyone else — my screens look great in a window 800 pixels wide and are still usable at 300 pixels wide. Yes, there are both horizontal and vertical scroll bars.There are no pull-downs, pop-ups, roll-overs, or icons — I don’t want to design with them, program them, or use them.The only HTML controls are single line text boxes, push buttons, and links. So, there are no check boxes, radio buttons, or multi-line text boxes.Ease of UseMy Web site screens don’t look very professional. They don’t look like they were designed by graphic artists.But I share your emphasis on “makes sense and be easy to navigate”, and believe my screens have this, really, are very easy to understand and use, right away. There is very little text on the screens, and a person who knows no English should be able to guess how to use the UI in about 10 minutes or be shown in about 4 minutes.There is nothing subtle on the screens: There is high contrast with large fonts. The background is just white. The color usage is so simple it hardly should be called a color scheme. Uh, I used a pixel getter and borrowed some text colors, and also fonts, from some famous Web sites!It was my first screen design, but it seems okay to me. I’m in alpha test now and from Hacker News, etc. have a nice list of beta testers. Maybe in beta test I will discover that my UI/UX is awful, but I doubt it.Fast and SimpleEach screen transmits as only about 400,000 bits. The whole screen comes as just one file except for the little JavaScript file Microsoft wrote for me. So, basically, for the user, the screen just appears, BAM, all done in an instant with no jumping around as additional parts and pieces are received. E.g., all my CSS is really dirt simple and in just the file with the HTML, not in a separate file.Site NavigationUh, for the screens, there is an About screen and some Help screens, but otherwise the UI is based on just two screens, one for input and one for output. Just two screens — we’re talking simple, dirt simple, including for navigation.What Else?Once one has your “makes sense and be easy to navigate”, I’m missing what are the additional important considerations.Web Pages by OthersBy now, I’ve seen a lot of Web pages done by others. Somehow I’m not impressed by the commonly accepted principles or discipline of Web page design.Screen WidthE.g., I’ve seen a lot of screens that are way, Way, WAY too wide, so wide that important information is lost off the right side unless the user uses horizontal scroll bars to see it. The designers had a screen six feet wide? I’ve seen screens that are too wide and where the horizontal scroll bars are missing — maybe capture the text on the system clipboard, pull it into a text editor, and then read it — done that.Screens should be narrow enough for 14″ desktop screens, 13″ laptop screens, and, hopefully, smartphone screens.Maybe the screen designer has a screen six feet wide, but nearly no users do.Cookies, JavaScript, and VideoIf a user permits cookies, JavaScript, and video at all Web sites, then soon they can give up a lot of privacy, greatly slow down their Web browsing, and likely encounter security problems. So, good users will often be careful about when and where they enable cookies, JavaScript, and video playback. Web page designers should understand this point and not expect that all users will accept all cookies, etc.Non-Standard UsageRecently my bank had a link that my Web browser ignored. I needed to follow the link to get my account transaction history! So, I copied the link to the clipboard and into my favorite editor, ripped out the JavaScript, used an editor macro to convert the hex back to characters, converted the relative URL to an absolute, copied that into the browser address box, and got my transaction history. It’s a big bank with a big IT team. Bummer.Text WidthI’ve seen screens with over 100 characters per line of text — please, keep it under 60. I’ve seen screens where need a medium microscope to read the default sized text, and browser magnification doesn’t reflow the text to fewer characters per line — so copy to my editor and read the text there, bummer.Jumping, Popping, Covering, Pull Down, Roll OverSome screens jump around during loading and usage — please, no jumping. Some screens respond to mouse movements with pop-up windows that cover much of the screen content — please, no popping up and no covering over. Similarly for pull-down menus — minimize pull down menus.Pre-Roman IconsSome screens are awash in icons — I can’t spell or pronounce icons, look them up in a dictionary, type them into notes or e-mail, or know what the heck they mean. Civilization had icons and, with great progress, went to the Roman alphabet. Please, just use the Roman alphabet on words and no icons.I know: With each icon can have some text that displays as a hover. Fine: Just show the text to begin with and to heck with the icon.Obscure Three Bar IconSome screens are using a stack of three horizontal bars as an icon to indicate more navigation options — wildly obscure. Trump’s Web site uses those bars and otherwise is so difficult to navigate sometimes I have Google do it for me, that is, search all the screens at the site.JavaScript DangersMy view is that JavaScript has so much power over the UI that it can significantly change or just mess up what was in HTML that 3+ billion people do understand how to use. I’ve seen JavaScript used to make a lot of total bummer screens.As in Music?Maybe using JavaScript well is like music: Can write pop music using just four chords. Well, there are lots more, but to use them well better be Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Wagner, e.g., Birgit Nilsson, Tristan und Isolde, “Liebestod” at…Ravel, Puccini, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Barber, Adagio for Strings, op.11, as at…etc. Same for key modulations, major/minor, orchestration, e.g., what Ravel did with the solo piano work Mussorgsky, Pictures at an Exhibition as at…etc. Otherwise, stick with just the four chords.Exception for Picasso.KISSFor Web pages, used the Kiss principle — “keep it simple s…..”. Uh, one of the most valuable companies in the world is Google, and their screens are all very SIMPLE, just DIRT simple, load with just blinding speed, look good on any Web browser up to date as about 15 years ago, and are easy enough to use that 3+ billion people use the screens right away.SummarySo, net, I like keep it simple and your “Could you say more about what you mean by design, especially for the goal of “makes sense and be easy to navigate”?

      1. LE

        Upvoted because you took my design advice on using bold headers on long product. I will now read what you said.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          Then listen to the music!

      2. panterosa,

        You should be able to draw the design on paper with a pencil.It’s helpful to test the design with a 5 year old and a 75 year old because if they get it it’s simple.It’s helpful to look at really good design to be comfortable with not only good clear design and style.Finally, while I appreciate the encyclopedic depth of your response and consideration you put into creating a site, it sounds like you might have overthought it.Overthinking kills great design since it is intuitive. Find examples of what you like that works for your project and steal.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          Thanks. It looks like we are in good agreement and what I did is okay.For my first design sketch, I just typed into my favorite text editor and slowly settled on the 800 pixel width and just what would be in the table for the layout. A friend told me that layout with tables was old fashioned and that the new thing was DIV — I stayed with tables so that I would have no doubt about what users were getting. Maybe on screens of greatly different widths, DIV would have a role — that is, let the browser and its DOM position the DIVs. Again, my startup is just asking for a window 800 pixels wide and has both scroll bars in case of a shortage of screen space. If the screen is 1600 pixels wide and the user asks their browser for 2X magnification, then could read the screens from across a room.Broadly, there’s a logo image (I need to do a better one), a line for links to About and Help, a banner ad, and a table with two columns. The left column has data and the right column, ads in the standard size 300 pixels wide and 250 pixels high, as many, in a vertical column, as there is space generated by the left column.For the page with the input data, the left column has one line text boxes. For the page with the output, the left column as the output.To navigate between the two main pages, there are simple push buttons to click on.Each screen has a simple title that explains what the heck it is for. Each of the two main screens has a link to Help specific for that screen.It’s simple. I figured it out in all of about a relaxed hour. I didn’t over think it.My examples of what I did, liked, and want and have seen others do that I don’t like was trivial to me and, really, says to me that there isn’t much to the design principles.Your beta test example of 5 and 75 is good. My goal is that anyone in the world age 7 who knows no English can learn to use the English language version in 15 minutes on their own or 4 minutes with a lesson. I’m serious about simple.I did borrow anything that was not totally obvious to me. E.g., I have zero color sense so borrowed the colors. Same for most of the fonts.That’s just for the UI — the rest of the startup has a bunch of applied math the users will never see or sense. But the math is crucial for the good quality results; those are the key to pleasing the users; and that is key to the success of the startup.So, maybe in our discussion here there is enough to help the students learning Web page design. So, they get to learn that they don’t have to have art degrees, go to the RISD, or be another Picasso!

      3. panterosa,

        PS I totally agree “design” means too many things. The design I was referencing with the students was the graphical as first touch. This of course includes the design of the entire app/site etc as an experience, and under the hood the design should be clean and uncluttered too.Less parts means less breaks.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          Thanks.Since my site has only two main pages, each simple, the UX is not from the page designs.Actually, the UX is supposed to be somewhat addictive like some old computer game where a player keeps trying to get more and more magic items from a cave or some such or, say, a slot machine where the user keeps trying to get good results.So the UX is for a user to iterate going between the input screen and the output screen. On the input screen, they modify their input based on what they just saw on the output screen.So, they may see five ads per screen and do five iterations for 10 screens and 50 ads. From time considering the output, that might take them 20 minutes. Yet, the ads don’t really get in the way of the real content and purpose. Besides the ads will add some color and maybe motion.So, while there are really only two main screens and each is very simple as HTML, with essentially no JavaScript, the UX is supposed to be involving, engaging, addictive, fun, etc.

  5. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:OFF TOPIC….Twitter faces shareholder lawsuit. The social media company hasn’t delivered on a two-year-old projection that it would reach 550 million users in the “intermediate” term—it’s still hovering around 330 million. That promise is the subject of a suit filed last Friday, one that seeks class-action status. (Bloomberg)As mentioned in previous posts it is difficult to maintain loyalty in the mobile app space. 330 Million is nothing to sneeze on. A very formable scale. Really amazing based uponwhat it offers and noted limitations.

    1. jason wright

      I was shocked when i read recently just how many employees Twitter has. Over 3,000 and counting.

  6. sigmaalgebra

    Sure, start with developing some Web pages. Learn by doing. Cover principles later!