Teaching Teens Technology: Murray Law

Murray Law

Even though he had an interest in technology at a young age, Murray Law didn’t discover computer science until his third year at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. It was then he started taking computer science classes while finishing his pre-law degree.

“When I was in elementary school, people were still using punch cards for their computers,” Murray said. “My interest in computers was piqued when a buddy of mine came home in the mid-1980s with one of the old computers where he had the two floppy drives, and there was no hard drive. We were about ten years ahead of the PC curve which really started to get popular in the early ’90s with the Macs and the PCs coming out. I was just drawn to them right away.”

After receiving his under-grad, Murray spent three years in Prague, Czech Republic practicing international relations. Not having been exposed to much technology abroad, he came home to realize that his knowledge of technology was now outdated.

“I came back to a world that had completely changed on the digital side. Everything was graphical HTML. The World Wide Web had exploded and I hadn’t seen any of this. What’s a browser? I had no clue, so I had to catch up.”

Murray caught up by spending a year at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. In a class of computer science graduates and working professionals, Murray held his own and immediately went to work for Microsoft upon completion.

“They were looking for people to help them keep up in the dot-com boom. I was one of the original engineers on the real-time communications team. There was like 15 of us. We developed what’s now Skype for Business and eventually the Skype online service, too. I helped the second version of that. I also spent many years working on Windows, including shipping Windows 2000. It was great.”

Personal matters forced Murray to step away from Microsoft after a ten-year stint. After spending a couple years focusing on other interests and his family, Murray was approached to teach some courses at BCCE.

“They were looking for somebody to teach PowerShell, which is Microsoft’s internal scripting language for Windows. I could do PowerShell backwards and forwards, so I started doing that while working another job. After leaving I left that company, BCCE asked if I knew C#, and then they asked if I knew SQL. It was no problem for me. Four years later I’m still teaching here, and I consider this to be my main gig.”

Murray’s classes were a hit with adult students, so he was approached about the potential of teaching some BCCE Summer Teen Courses. For Murray, it was a fitting opportunity.

“I played goalie on the Microsoft hockey team and many of my teammates were involved Sno-King and Seattle Minor League hockey. They asked me if I wanted to be the Goalie Coach. I ended up coaching five different teams ages between 7 and 15. I think I’ve gained experience keeping kids’ attention, not letting them drift off into their worlds and making sure that they’re all on point.”

Murray’s experience as a tech professional and a coach pair perfectly in his teaching. Murray teaches Introduction to Programming for Teens and Python Programming for Teens where his vibrant personality and passion for programming not only shines, but is infectious to his students.

“Some of the best feedback that I’ve got is from students themselves. They say, ‘This was fun. I enjoyed it.’ That’s half the battle, right? It doesn’t work if your style is telling them ‘do this, do that’ and you’re forcing them to do it. But if you make it fun and enjoyable for them, that’s when it connects. For example, in the past I’ve had students play Tic-Tac-Toe, a game everyone knows. Then I tell them they’ll learn how to write a program to create a Tic-Tac-Toe on the computer, and all the students are intrigued. It’s a great feeling.”

Murray came back from Prague and noted the speed at which technology was now moving. Today, technology moves faster than ever, and Murray’s courses are the perfect way for anyone, no matter the age, to keep up with it.

“Learning how to program a computer is just a vital a skill as learning how to read and write was 50 years ago. It’s something that every modern person should know. Code is executing all around us in our cars, in our microwaves, in our fridges. It’s not just confined to the PC. It’s running in our pockets on our devices, and so it’s good to know what’s going on. A lot of the jobs in the future are going to expect you to know the basics of programming just like today they expect you to be literate. It’s a modern skill that I think every person should have going into the modern world.”

 

Learn about Murray’s courses and others in the Summer Teen section of our course catalog. Register your child for a class today!

Last Updated April 30, 2019