IN towns and villages across Ireland there are small gatherings of children quickly learning how to rule tomorrow’s world.
Welcome to CoderDojo: the movement that pledges to change the way we think and teach computer programming. And there’s not a teacher in sight.
Celebrating its first anniversary yesterday, the Cork based company said its not-for-profit ‘movement’ has gone viral across the globe.
There are now 45 clubs in Ireland alone, each comprising of a number of children and mentors who teach them how to create and upload websites, apps and computer games within hours.
For those in code club, the first rule is “be cool” – or in other words, respect the online world in which your are operating.
The company’s creator, 19-year-old James Whelton from Bishopstown in Cork, said the idea came from a computer club he set up which kids from other schools couldn’t wait to join.
“It was just the way we taught; it was project orientated,” he said.
“Within the first two hours you could start your own website or game. It has ultimately become the Scouts of (computer) coding.”
The clubs are free of charge and operate on basic rules; teachers or ‘mentors’ are approved by CoderDojo and garda vetted, they follow a simple format and those taking part can graduate from white to black belt status.
The word ‘dojo’ itself is Japanese and refers to a formal gathering of students.
Mr Whelton now works as the ‘social entrepreneur in residence’ for Dragon’s Den star Sean O’Sullivan who turned out to celebrate yesterday’s anniversary.
“It’s like teaching kids a second language when they are four or five years old,” he said.
“We are trying to make computer programming a second skill. We want to make Ireland the world’s honey pot for the brightest and best technical talent.”
The company was at Leinster House yesterday at the invitation of Junior Education Minister Ciaran Cannon where it carried out workshops for kids.
It has now become so successful it is spreading across the world with CoderDojo outfits now well established in Europe and the US and as far away as Uganda, India, Indonesia and Brazil.
Mentor Lindsay Macvean explained that at first children learn simple HTML code that allows them construct web pages.
They then progress to putting them online, creating links, and eventually to designing computer games and smart phone apps.
“We have created an example of how this (club) can be done; now they have to go and do it with their own flair,” he said of emerging groups around the world.
“This is not a classroom, it’s a club. Everything in the world can be explained on one side of an A4 page if you if you get the right person to teach it.”
(Article Reposted from original by Independent Journalist Mark Hilliard)