Highlights of our #ChatDojo Discussion – June

On June 23 we held a two-hour Twitter chat giving CoderDojo community members the opportunity to share their experiences and insights. In advance of the discussion Dojo volunteers voted on the topics they wanted to discuss. These were, in order of preference:

  • motivating volunteers
  • project progression for young people 
  • new resources and projects

 

Thanks to all the volunteers around the world who took part! If you missed out, our next community discussion will be our community webinar on Tuesday 23 July. Below are a sample of the questions that were asked during #ChatDojo and some responses from participants. As per usual we started off our chat by learning more about the Dojos those taking part belong to:

Q1. Tell us about your Dojo!

Those taking part are involved in CoderDojo clubs running for the last two months, to over 6 years! Champions and Mentors also shared how their Dojo sizes ranged from 8 children to over 80 Ninjas. The average number of volunteers attending each session ranged from 1 to 20!

Sahaza in Madagascar highlighted how the 8 Dojos he’s involved with have supported over 3,000 children to code over the last 4 years, including on the CoderBus, a bus decked out with laptops and desks, which travels around to rural areas!

Q3. What motivated you to become a CoderDojo volunteer?

Motivations for people varied; from wanting to give back, seeing it as something really beneficial to young people, to even giving people something to do. A lot of volunteers initially got involved through someone they knew. Whether it was through bringing their children, or nephews and nieces to a session, their partner or colleagues already volunteering, those who got involved haven’t looked back since!

 

Q5. Do you have a list of projects/tasks young people work through during the year? 

In advance of the chat some mentors had expressed their interest in a project pathway that young people could progress through. We wanted to see what Dojos were already using and if it was in demand among the wider Dojo community.

 

We’re looking at how Dojos who want a little more structure can adapt certain sets of projects to their Dojos needs. Do you want to understand the skills young people are learning and help know what to progress on to after? If you are interested in trialing out some progression pathways and giving your feedback please email us at [email protected]

Q6. How do you measure children’s progression through projects, or skills learned?

We found most Dojos aren’t measuring progress in a structured way. Mentors are using a variety of ways to reward achievements including USB belts, badges and certificates. Volunteers highlighted seeing young people’s confidence develop, them offering to present the project they’ve made with the group, or by participating in Coolest Projects helped them assess children’s development!

 

 

Q10. How do you onboard or train new volunteers at your Dojo?

With many Dojos reporting mentor retention and motivation as a problem they encounter, we wanted to know how new volunteers were being on-boarded into Dojos, and if successful approaches could be replicated by others.

From our focus groups we know some Dojos help new mentors by having a “Buddy System” whereby a new volunteer is matched with a volunteer that has been involved for a while. They chat in advance, explaining what the new mentor can expect and meet them at the door to help them settle in.

 

Q12. What do you use to help potential volunteers find your club? 

The CoderDojo platform is a great resource for anyone who searches for a coding club to volunteer with in their local area. We noticed that some volunteer requests in the platform are left pending, despite those Dojos looking for volunteers. We wanted to know what clubs are using to source volunteers to better understand their needs.

 


How can you check if your Dojo has pending mentor requests?

Log in to the CoderDojo platform, if you are a Dojo champion go to the My Dojo section, select your Dojo and click “Manage Users”. Then select the “User Requests” tab on the top right. You will see who has applied to be a member of the Dojo and also the role they requested to join as. Accept those you want to join the Dojo in the capacity requested.

Q13. What’s the best piece of advice you could give to potential Dojo volunteers?

 

Thanks to all who shared their experiences with us on the day. We can’t wait for our next discussion with volunteers on our community webinar on Tuesday 23 July. All are welcome to join!

 

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