It's a global movement that needs to get even larger. The Hour of Code is an initiative launched last year by Code.org to encourage students and adults worldwide to take a single hour to learn how to code.

Why? Because in this technology-centric era, coding is fast on its way to becoming a basic form of literacy, alongside reading, writing, math, and science--yet it's marginalized in our K-12 education system. While STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields have received more emphasis and promotion over the past five years, coding usually still gets left out of the equation. Half of the states in the U.S. don't even count computer science courses toward high school graduation, even though technology is a major driver of innovation in the nation's economy, and coding is the No. 1 skill in demand today around the world.

According to Code.org--which was co-founded as a nonprofit in 2013 by brothers Hadi and Ali Partovi to expand participation in computer science, particularly by women and underrepresented students of color--there's a massive job/student gap specifically in computer science, but not in STEM fields in general. When you look at the number of jobs that are available in STEM overall, 60 percent of those are computing jobs, while 40 percent are all other math and science jobs.

Yet less than 2.4 percent of college students earn computer science degrees. Frighteningly, these computer science numbers have actually dropped in the past decade. In other words: We need more coders, and fast, to fill computing positions that comprise the majority of jobs in STEM.

That's where the Hour of Code comes in. Dubbed the "largest learning event in history," the Hour of Code logged some impressive stats last year in its inaugural running:

  • It reached 15 million users in just 5 days--faster than Facebook (3 years), Twitter (2.5 years), and Instagram (14 months).
  • In one week alone, more girls tried computer science than had done so in the past 70 years.
  • 15 million students around the globe learned to code during the event.

This year's Hour of Code will take place in more than 180 countries from December 8 to 14. It's easy to participate--Code.org offers one-hour tutorials in more than 30 languages, and no experience is needed to try it out. There are nearly 50,000 Hour of Code events organized around the world--more than half of which are in the United States. To get started, you can view all events worldwide and find the one nearest you by clicking here. You can also choose to organize your own event, either as an individual or an organization. Code.org will provide you with all of the materials you need to make your event a success, from new tutorials to helpful tips about how to run and promote your Hour of Code, with special guidance for teachers and parents.

At Pluralsight, we take the opportunity to participate in Hour of Code very seriously. Last year, in addition to sponsoring a group event, we also donated three months of free online training to the winner of our We <3 Computers contest, and awarded grants to the first 50 qualifying U.S. schools that participated in the Hour of Code.

This year, we're upping the ante still further: We're taking the Hour of Code to the capitol building and the governor of the state of Utah, Gary Herbert. Like millions of others around the nation and the world, Herbert and his staff will carve an hour out of their busy schedules to sit down and learn how to code with us. At the end of the event, the Governor will challenge every school in the state to get involved in the cause.

So, are you ready for the Hour of Code? I challenge you--whether you're a teacher or parent, or just want to learn a little bit more about what's behind the technology you depend on every day--to participate. Your future, as well as your children's and grandchildren's, depends upon it.

Published on: Dec 3, 2014
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.