How the Vsetín Dojo welcomed change and made new connections
Earlier this month, my colleague Sonja and I caught up with Vsetín Dojo champion, Petra. She shared with us how their Dojo made new connections during lockdown and has started the process of meeting again in person.
Petra’s library-based Dojo in the Czech Republic has been running since May 2019 and the group was still finding its feet when the lockdown was imposed earlier this year. Initially, they didn’t organise anything online — as a parent, Petra knew how busy the Ninjas and their parents were with homeschooling and getting used to the new situation. However, she sent everyone links and passwords so that they could continue what they’d been doing at the Dojo.
As time went on, a new opportunity came along — the chance to join forces with another Dojo!
“After a couple of weeks, I thought that we should do something at least. Another Dojo — from Ústí nad Labem in the Czech Republic — they decided to do online Minecraft sessions, I invited everybody to join. I sent a link to my Ninjas and five or six joined the sessions. They were great. The Ninjas had some redstone circuits. They were able to introduce their projects to other kids, so I think they really enjoyed that. I’m really glad the other Dojo did this [and we could join].”
As Petra went on to explain, collaborating with another Dojo was a new opportunity for the Ninjas to learn and connect. It also may allow Dojos to become more resilient, particularly if lockdown is imposed again:
“I think the cooperation between Dojos is quite a big opportunity which I hadn’t thought about before. So I think everyone can do different topics, and kids who are not interested in Minecraft — there are some — they can learn something else in a different Dojo, I think this is a great thing. And if there’s a next wave, we can probably think this through more.”
Starting to meet again
The Vsetín Dojo recently resumed in-person sessions, in accordance with local guidelines. In terms of how the Ninjas felt about returning:
“everyone was ok because we’ve been home for a long time and some of the kids had already returned to school by the time we started and so they were just normal […] I sent an email first because we had only three sessions left, whether they would want to do it or just leave it alone. I was surprised that almost everyone wanted to come, and they were ok with everything”.
Full safety measures are in place, including social distancing, face coverings, and frequent sanitization of hands and workspaces. Petra works in the library where the Dojo is based, so she was able to rearrange the space ahead of time, “I just turned some monitors facing the other way around, so that there would be the distance between kids, and left some gaps”.
A more relaxed format
The format of the Dojo has changed slightly since they resumed in-person sessions. It has become more relaxed, allowing the Ninjas to catch up with each other and play:
“For the last three sessions, I let it be more relaxed. There’s no reason to do any big projects. I promised them [the Ninjas] that we’d work on Minecraft Education Edition […] They were just so happy to be with each other that I just let them create whatever they wanted and we just played together and built together.”
Following on from these learnings, Petra went on to share her ideas for the future:
“I hope we’ll somehow get back to normal. There are some things I want to change — not because of coronavirus but because of some experience I gained during the first year. More offline activities, without computers or doing things without sitting constantly at the computer, because then they tend to play games.”
We’d like to say a special thank you to Petra for speaking with us and sharing her learnings from the last few months. As she has shown us, things have certainly changed, but because of this change there are opportunities for innovation and collaboration too.
Explore the options for resuming your CoderDojo sessions:
- See our blog post on how Dojos can run during a pandemic
- Read our guidance on running your club online or virtually
- Join an upcoming webinar or online training session.
- Take part in the conversation on our global Slack channel.
Please follow the appropriate public health advice for your country / region / venue before planning in-person club sessions.