North Dakota coordinates statewide Hour of Code

The state says it's the first to coordinate such an event across a state's K-12 and higher education systems. More than 6,000 students participated.
An hour of code class in El Paso, Texas.
An Hour of Code class in El Paso, Texas, on December 7, 2018. (Laura Martinez)

North Dakota became the first state on Friday, it says, to host a simultaneous Hour of Code between K-12 and higher-ed students across the state. The state’s participation in the global event that was first held in 2013 demonstrates one instance of increased attention to computer science education.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said that computer science knowledge will prepare students for tomorrow’s workforce and economy. “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,” he said in a press release.

Held at nearly 100 schools with more than 6,000 participating K-12 and university students, North Dakota’s coordinated Hour of Code celebrates computer science week. The event is supported by the state government, local education leaders and Microsoft. “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,” said Taya Spelhaug, a Microsoft executive.

Hour of Code, started by, introduces students to computer science with fun and engaging coding activities designed to teach anyone to code and is hosted in more than 180 countries during computer science education week. Nationally, the U.S. has seen a grassroots movement bring computer science into the K-12 system. According to, 20 states have passed laws or initiatives to support computer science since January 2018, and since 2015, states have collectively allocated over $87 million for computer science.


North Dakota Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said, “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.”

In fact, according to a 2018 Microsoft study, 50 percent of parents surveyed said they believe coding and computer programming to be the most beneficial subjects to their child’s future employability, and 86 percent believe technology is beneficial to their child’s education. “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,” Spelhaug said.

This state says this year’s Hour of Code event also reflects North Dakota’s broader statewide effort to promote technology education. Gov. Burgum has initiatives to educate the entire state’s student population —kindergarten through Ph.D. — on cybersecurity. Codenamed the K-20W initiative (for kindergartners to doctoral candidates plus workforce), the state’s vision for cybersecurity education has brought together more than 40 organizations from the public and private sector with the goal of building a 21st-century workforce, according to the state. North Dakota has also drafted integrated cyber science K-12 standards to provide institutions with rigorous and content-appropriate educational framework.

“North Dakota students are excited to explore the world of computer science,” Riley said in the press release. “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.”

Betsy Foresman

Written by Betsy Foresman

Betsy Foresman was an education reporter for EdScoop from 2018 through early 2021, where she wrote about the virtues and challenges of innovative technology solutions used in higher education and K-12 spaces. Foresman also covered local government IT for StateScoop, on occasion. Foresman graduated from Texas Christian University in 2018 — go Frogs! — with a BA in journalism and psychology. During her senior year, she worked as an intern at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., and moved back to the capital after completing her degree because, like Shrek, she feels most at home in the swamp. Foresman previously worked at Scoop News Group as an editorial fellow.

Latest Podcasts