The City of Baltimore has formed a digital alliance with iconic tech company Microsoft. It will bring a collection of programs for residents of Baltimore looking to learn the fundamentals of coding and robotics, as well as basic digital literacy. Online courses and resources will be offered through the Baltimore City Office of Information and Technology (BCIT).
“Digital skills are becoming increasingly important in our world, and expanding the resources available to our students, families, and employees to improve and build those skillsets is essential,” Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott said in a statement.
The programming includes an event called Digicamp, where students are introduced to IT careers and virtual technology workshops in STEM fields. One such session will be hosted by the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks on Wednesday, March 31, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Those interested can register here.
This alliance includes a DigiCamp event hosted by @RecNParks on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. during Spring Break. Young people and educators are strongly encouraged to register here: https://t.co/LONFptHFZB pic.twitter.com/t1PjwycDuW
— Brandon M. Scott (@MayorBMScott) March 29, 2021
Another series, called Hour of Code, will function through Microsoft’s MakeCode site and can be found online for use at the BCIT website. At the MakeCode site, users make avatars and partipate in virtual classrooms led by Microsoft employees and other technology partners that teach coding skills in an hour.
Employees of the rec and parks department, Baltimore City Health Department, and Housing Authority of Baltimore City will also be trained by Microsoft to provide digital literacy training to seniors and public housing residents.
The resources arrive at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has created more urgency to bridge the city’s longstanding digital divide. When it comes to inclusion, providing education on digital skills is a key focus area of those working on solutions, right alongside expanding access to broadband and laptops.
“As the pandemic has shown us, digital skills are necessary to traverse the new norm,” Todd Carter, the City’s chief information officer, said in a statement. “The resources supplied through the Microsoft partnership will help residents engage with a digital economy and positively impact their quality of life.”
Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.