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Developer training company Pluralsight, which has long helped professional programmers improve their technical chops, is turning a bit of its attention to kids.
As momentum builds behind bringing computer science to younger students, Pluralsight CEO Aaron Skonnard said his company wants to do its part for the cause. And, on Monday, the Salt Lake City-based company released a couple of free online courses teaching elementary, middle and high school kids how to code.
“We feel that the world needs to raise awareness of the importance of being more technical with computer science at an earlier age,” he said.
As a star-studded video released last month by Code.org emphasized, the country needs more technical talent. Less than two percent of students study computer programming — and 90 percent of U.S. schools don’t offer programming. Meanwhile, programming jobs are growing at double the pace of other jobs, according to the non-profit.
In addition to sites like Codecademy and Treehouse, which could be for professionals and students, more startups, including Kuato Studios, Tynker and Hopscotch are beginning to take on this problem directly with games and kid-friendly programs that teach the basics of coding.
But for Pluralsight, which is a subscription-based business, the new kids’ courses represent more of a goodwill- and loyalty-building effort than a new revenue source, Skonnard said. Its first courses focus on MIT’s programming learning environment Scratch and the programming language C#, but Skonnard said it plans to grow its library of kids’ courses, and expand outreach to schools, over time.
Pluralsight partnered with the non-profit Teaching Kids Programming, led by developers Lynn Langit and Llewellyn Falco, to create the C# course and Skonnard said both new courses were designed to be more interactive and attention-based.
The company, which launched in 2004, claims more than 200,000 subscribers and, earlier this year, raised $27.5 million from Insight Venture Partners.