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(Editor's note: This is a cross-post from the Google Research Blog)

Over the last few years, successful marketing campaigns such as Hour of Code and Made with Code have helped K12 students become increasingly aware of the power and relevance of computer programming across all fields. In addition, there has been growth in developer bootcamps, online “learn to code” programs (code.org, CS First, Khan Academy, Codecademy, Blockly Games, etc.), and non-profits focused specifically on girls and underrepresented minorities (Technovation, Girls who Code, Black Girls Code, #YesWeCode, etc.).

This is good news, as we need many more computing professionals than are currently graduating from Computer Science (CS) and Information Technology (IT) programs. There is evidence that students are starting to respond positively too, given undergraduate departments are experiencing capacity issues in accommodating all the students who want to study CS.

Most educators agree that basic application and internet skills (typing, word processing, spreadsheets, web literacy and safety, etc.) are fundamental, and thus, “digital literacy” is a part of K12 curriculum. But is coding now a fundamental literacy, like reading or writing, that all K12 students need to learn as well?

In order to gain a deeper understanding of the devices and applications they use everyday, it’s important for all students to try coding. In doing so, this also has the positive effect of inspiring more potential future programmers. Furthermore, there are a set of relevant skills, often consolidated as “computational thinking”, that are becoming more important for all students, given the growth in the use of computers, algorithms and data in many fields. These include:
  • Abstraction, which is the replacement of a complex real-world situation with a simple model within which we can solve problems. CS is the science of abstraction: creating the right model for a problem, representing it in a computer, and then devising appropriate automated techniques to solve the problem within the model. A spreadsheet is an abstraction of an accountant’s worksheet; a word processor is an abstraction of a typewriter; a game like Civilization is an abstraction of history. 
  • An algorithm is a procedure for solving a problem in a finite number of steps that can involve repetition of operations, or branching to one set of operations or another based on a condition. Being able to represent a problem-solving process as an algorithm is becoming increasingly important in any field that uses computing as a primary tool (business, economics, statistics, medicine, engineering, etc.). Success in these fields requires algorithm design skills. 
  • As computers become essential in a particular field, more domain-specific data is collected, analysed and used to make decisions. Students need to understand how to find the data; how to collect it appropriately and with respect to privacy considerations; how much data is needed for a particular problem; how to remove noise from data; what techniques are most appropriate for analysis; how to use an analysis to make a decision; etc. Such data skills are already required in many fields. 
These computational thinking skills are becoming more important as computers, algorithms and data become ubiquitous. Coding will also become more common, particularly with the growth in the use of visual programming languages, like Blockly, that remove the need to learn programming language syntax, and via custom blocks, can be used as an abstraction for many different applications.

One way to represent these different skill sets and the students who need them is as follows: All students need digital literacy, many need computational thinking depending on their career choice, and some will actually do the software development in high-tech companies, IT departments, or other specialized areas.


I don’t believe all kids should learn to code seriously, but all kids should try it via programs like code.org, CS First or Khan Academy. This gives students a good introduction to computational thinking and coding, and provides them with a basis for making an informed decision on whether CS or IT is something they wish to pursue as a career.

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Cross-posted from the Google for Work blog.

 Every day, thousands of companies switch off their on-premise servers and move to the cloud. And more than five million businesses around the world have taken that shift to the cloud by moving to Google Apps, including Woolworths, BBVA, Roche and PwC. But one big question remains unanswered: what’s going to happen to all those dark, windowless little server rooms?

We teamed up with PDM International, an interior design consultancy, to come up with few ideas for how those rooms could be used today. This is what they proposed.

Karaoke at lunch anyone? 

The salad bar just got real

Play ALL the games! 

The servers are gone. It’s time to reclaim the office.

Posted by Kevin Ackhurst, Managing Director, Google for Work APAC

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Technology doesn’t stand stand still. Neither do careers, or the skills that we need for the job of tomorrow. Just as careers like knocker uppers (yep it was a real job) were replaced by alarm clocks, ice cutters by refrigeration, and lamp lighters by electricity, so too are we seeing a transformation in the types of jobs we’ll need and want as a future society.

And the pace of change is incredible. As few as eight years ago there were no Android or iOS developers - because there were no smartphones! Self-driving cars were just a dream. And 3-D printing of prosthetics wasn’t even imaginable. Yet today, all those these sectors are thriving and likely to supply many of tomorrow’s jobs.

Last year we helped to publish the Careers with Code guide, which showed in one place the wide variety of careers that computer science can lead to - everything from art and music to medicine and agriculture. In Australia alone, demand for skilled computer scientists is growing rapidly.

However, if we look at enrolment numbers at our universities, you’ll see a more worrying trend. Dr Rebecca Vivian from CSER Group did a recent analysis here, and you can see that enrolments in IT degrees are essentially stagnant, and they are also much lower for women.

Male and Female enrolments ENG and IT
Author: Dr Rebecca Vivian, CSER Group. Data source: http://highereducationstatistics.education.gov.au

There’s no other way to say it: these numbers are disappointingly low. But there are things we can do to address them. Research shows that career perception, social encouragement, and early academic exposure can have a strong impact on the engagement of women in computer science and technology related studies.

These are the areas we’ve chosen to focus on in Australia, and we work with some great partners to try to turn this around. There are a few key programs we see making a real difference:

  • Promoting a diversity of careers and profiling women in the Careers with Code Guide, and supporting events like Power of Engineering 
  • Supporting the implementation of the Digital Technologies curriculum with teacher professional development through our CS4HS programs and online courses from Adelaide University 
  • Resources like CS First and the FIRST robotics program which help to inspire the students of today with the possibilities of tomorrow. 

With a cross-industry approach, we’re hoping to paint a compelling picture of what tomorrow’s jobs might be like - and along the way change these enrolment patterns so that all young Australians, regardless of gender, are considering careers with code.

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Launceston has always been a forward-looking town. It was the first town in Australia to be lit by hydroelectricity (and the first town in Australia to have underground sewers!). It was also a regional winner of our 2013 eTowns Award, and Launceston small businesses have been quick to see the potential of the web to help them grow.

We recently asked more than 150 small business owners in Launceston whether they thought the Internet would be important to their future growth - and 100% said yes. However, around one third of those business owners also said they didn’t know how to take advantage of this.

So we were delighted to visit Launceston today as the fourth stop on a nationwide roadshow (and that’s not just because of Tasmania’s delicious cheese!). The roadshow, in partnership with the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is part of our efforts to help small business around Australia make the most of the web.
Chilly conditions relieved by a warming coffee at our Launceston roadshow this morning 

Our guest Eric Hutchinson MP opened the event for around 120 Launceston small business owners, who then heard how the web could help them find new customers and grow their business. We heard from Lisa Tedeschi, the owner of fashion store Sebachi, who has used AdWords to market her clothes store not just to people in Launceston, but all over Australia. She told us how the Internet had helped her start exporting clothes overseas, to locations as far afield (and fashion-forward!) as Sweden and Belgium.

Sebachi owner Lisa Tedeschi at the Launceston roadshow today 

Lisa’s success is also Australia’s success. Research shows that businesses that are online are twice as likely to be growing and four times as likely to be hiring staff. So it’s vital for Australia that we support small businesses as they look to get online. The good news is that it only takes a few minutes, and you don’t even need a website to start off. To find out more about our free tools, have a look at Google My Business.

Posted by Richard Flanagan, Head of Small Business Marketing, Google Australia

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Pocket Casts is a leading podcasting app on Google Play built by Australian-based mobile development company Shifty Jelly. The company recently achieved $1 million in sales for the first time, reaching more than 500K users.

According to the co-founder Russell Ivanovic, the adoption of material design played a significant role in driving user engagement for Pocket Casts by streamlining the user experience. Moreover, users are now able to access the app beyond the smartphone -- in the car with Android Auto, on a watch with Android Wear or on the TV with Google Cast. The rapid innovation of Android features helped Pocket Casts increase sales by 30 percent.

We chatted with co-founders and Android developers Russell and Philip Simpson to learn more about how they are growing their business with Android.

Here are some of the features Pocket Casts used:

  • Material Design: Learn more about material design and how it helps you create beautiful, engaging apps. 
  • Android Wear: Extend your app to Android Wear devices with enhanced notifications or a standalone wearable app. 
  • Android Auto: Extend your app to an interface that’s optimized for driving with Android Auto. 
  • Google Cast: let your users cast your app’s content to Google Cast devices like Chromecast, Android TV, and speakers with Google Cast built-in. 
And check out the Pocket Casts app on Google Play!

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(Editor's note: This is a cross post from the Google and Your Business blog. It's Pride Month in the US and this is a post they put together to mark the occasion. We liked it too much not to share). 

No two businesses are the same. And for small business owners, their unique character is vital for their success and keeps their loyal customers coming back.

Hailee Bland Walsh, the owner of City Gym in Kansas City, believes her gym “should be more than a place to workout. It should be a place to belong." She uses Google My Business to share that her gym is a safe place where everyone is welcome.

This message has been especially meaningful for Jake who recently returned to City Gym for the first time after having surgery. For him, City Gym has been an integral part of his transition from female to male, providing a place to explore his changing body and a community of support for him and his friends.

In recognition of LGBT Pride Month, we are excited to share the story of Hailee and Jake, and the power of the web to connect remarkable businesses like City Gym with their people.


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Editors note: This post is the first in a series of guest entries by members of the XL Catlin Seaview Survey team, a group dedicated to recording and revealing the world’s coral reefs in high-resolution, 360-degree panoramic imagery. These posts will take you behind the scenes of the project and introduce you to the people taking these images.

Australia and Asia Pacific is home to some of the world’s top marine biodiversity hotspots. To celebrate World Oceans Day on June 8, we’ve worked with Google to launch our largest ever collection of underwater imagery on Google Maps, featuring 360-degree virtual dives from 20 reefs across the region, including the Philippines, Indonesia, the Solomon Islands, the Cook Islands, Australia and American Samoa.
Come take a closer look at how we carry out these underwater surveys by going behind-the-scenes on our dive at Indonesia’s Bunaken National Park, the heart of the Coral Triangle. Often called the “underwater Amazon,” the Coral Triangle is a 5.7 million square kilometer area that spans from the Philippines in the north, down to Indonesia and as far as the Solomon Islands in the east. This giant triangle is also home to 76% of known coral species and over 3,000 species of fish.
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The SVII camera system surveys the remarkable reefscapes of the Coral Triangle (c) Catlin Seaview Survey
Every dive begins with getting our divers rigged up and the 60kg camera off our research boat Makarena and into the water. The SVII is a revolutionary camera system that creates high-resolution 360-degree images of the underwater environment using technology similar to Google Street View. By attaching SVII to an underwater scooter, we can cover distances of up to two kilometers in a single dive, taking about 3,000 images each time. We’ve also added instruments to this camera set-up, including a depth transponder (altimeter) so that we can read the altitude of the camera from the sea floor, which allows us to gather standardized scientific information at a volume and scale which was previously unattainable to the marine science community. Untitled:Users:ben:Desktop:Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 8.48.26 AM.png
Deploying the SVII camera in the waters off Manado (c) Catlin Seaview Survey
We’ve seen large schools with hundreds of reef fish such as butterfly fish (Chaedotontidae spp) or red toothed triggerfish (Odonus niger) cascade down the healthy reef slope. On this particular day, we were lucky enough to be greeted by a dolphin and a free swimming banded sea snake cruising along of one Bunaken Islands’ epic undersea walls.
XL Catlin Seaview divers explore underwater marine life at Bunaken Islands

You can now also explore new locations on the Great Barrier Reef including Mantis Reef and Wishbone Reef. This new imagery joins other Australian imagery including underwater Sydney Harbour and more Great Barrier Reef imagery.

While we could easily spend all day amongst the depths and colors of the Coral Triangle’s reefs, we try to complete our expeditions as early as possible to get started on downloading and processing the images. We’ll tell you more about the data we gather from these 360-degree photos in upcoming posts, but for now, we hope this new underwater imagery available on the XL Catlin Global Reef Record will give anyone with an Internet connection the ability to immerse themselves in stunning coral reefs like never before.

Posted by Dominic Bryant, XL Catlin Oceans Scholar and PhD Candidate at the Global Change Institute at The University of Queensland