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Hasso Plattner Institute: 4,300 German-Speaking Pupils Learn Programming via MOOC

22.09.2014 - (idw) Hasso-Plattner-Institut für Softwaresystemtechnik (HPI)

Potsdam/Berlin. Pupils in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland are gaining increasing access to in-depth programming knowledge - as reflected in the first open, online course for pupils that started on Monday, September 22. With already roughly 4,300 participants registered at http://www.open.hpi.de, the interactive educational platform of Hasso Plattner Institute, young people and adult Internet users can immerse themselves in the world of software for four weeks. The free, Internet course is titled, The Fun Way to Learning Programming (Spielend programmieren lernen). Whoever registers up to the end of the first course week can earn the number of points necessary to receive a certificate of successful course completion.

Federal Minister of Education and Research, Prof. Johanna Wanka praised the project: Whoever wants to help shape the digital society must understand its programming language. This is a language that is gaining importance worldwide. It is crucial for Germany as a high-tech center and also supports a career in the field of mathematics, computer science, natural science and technology. I welcome Hasso Plattner Institutes new offer and am delighted that so many young people have already signed up to take part, said the Federal Minister on todays launch of the new course.

Brandenburgs Minister President, Dietmar Woidke said that with this online course, Hasso Plattner Institute is presenting an offer to students that will prepare them for the world of the Internet. This is extremely important, because in programming they learn a new, digital language. Solid knowledge of computer science is virtually a ticket to career and society.

The initiative of HPI is an important step in inspiring the interest of young people in the digital world, said Prof. Gesche Joost, Germanys representative in Digital Champions an EU Commission expert group. Children and teenagers should have the opportunity to discover the fun of programming at an early age especially girls. Its important to realize that the digital future can be shaped creatively, Joost added.

No special prior knowledge or software is required for the online course. Pupils can program directly in their own browser and chat in the forum with other participants about their results, said HPI director Prof. Christoph Meinel. Participants see the result of their live programming on their monitor immediately upon entering the command. This is enabled by the high performance computers at Hasso Plattner Institute and Python, the programming language. Python is a language that can be learned and implemented quickly and is often used for Internet applications such as YouTube and Dropbox.

The course will be taught by Prof. Martin von Löwis, one of the developers of Python. The Berlin computer scientist, who served previously as a lecturer at Hasso Plattner Institute, will be teaching the material for a four week period using, for example, short learning videos. Participants are able to check their own progress and comprehension by way of online quizzes. Via practical exercises, participants learn among other things how to control a virtual turtle using simple programming commands. User support is offered in discussion forums and learning groups.

Not only does the openHPI online course target secondary school students but also teachers and those adults, who want to get a taste of the fascinating world of software development, said the Institutes director. According to the computer scientist, the ability to program is becoming an increasingly important prerequisite for shaping our digital society: German-speaking countries need to strive to maintain their position on the cutting edge of the technological and economic developments taking place in the world.

In this course for pupils, the Hasso Plattner Institute focuses on inspiring the interest of young people in the world of computer science and conveying the enjoyment inherent in developing creative calculation methods to solve very different everyday tasks, Meinel said. Some describe the creative interaction with algorithms and data as the language of the 21st century. In this sense we want to empower many people with the ability to speak this language, said the scientist. If the pilot course is well received, Hasso Plattner Institute hopes to expand their offer for pupils.

HPI supports the call by parents, teachers and BITKOM - the IT industry association - to all secondary schools in Germany to offer computer science as a compulsory subject. Currently, computer science is only compulsory in schools in Bavaria, Saxony and, to a limited extent, in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

Hasso Plattner Institute has pooled its greatly expanded offerings of computer science events for interested young people in the HPI Youth Academy: https://hpi.de/schueler. Since 2012, the Institute has made current university know-how available in courses that are free and open to everyone at https://open.hpi.de. A video on the online courses for pupils in German language can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRgNkIg3QiM&feature=youtu.be.

Profile of Hasso Plattner Institute

The Hasso Plattner Institute for Software Systems Engineering GmbH (https://hpi.de) at the University of Potsdam is Germanys university excellence center for IT Systems Engineering. It is the only university institution in Germany offering the bachelor and master program in IT Systems Engineering a practical and engineering-oriented study program in computer science, in which 470 students are presently enrolled. The HPI School of Design Thinking is Europes first innovation school and modeled on the Stanford University d.school. It offers 240 places yearly for a supplementary study. There are a total of ten HPI professors and over 50 guest professors, lecturers and contracted teachers at the Institute. HPI carries out research noted for its high standard of excellence in its nine topic areas, as well as at the HPI Research School for PhD candidates, with its further branches in Cape Town, Haifa and Nanjing. HPI teaching and research focuses on the foundation and application of large-scale, highly complex and networked IT systems. The development and exploration of user-driven innovations for all areas of life is an additional field of importance. HPI always earns the highest positions in the CHE university ranking. Since the beginning of September 2012, HPI has offered openhpi.de, an interactive Internet educational platform. Its free online courses are open to everyone. Weitere Informationen:https://hpi.de/schueler - Information about HPI Youth Academyhttps://open.hpi.de - Interactive educational platform of Hasso Plattner Institutehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRgNkIg3QiM&feature=youtu.be - Video on the online courses for pupils in German languagehttps://hpi.de - Website of the Hasso Plattner Institute for Software Systems Engineering (HPI) at Potsdam University

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