What we learned visiting online sessions

To support CoderDojos running online, we regularly conduct safeguarding visits to online sessions. This enables us to see how Dojos are running and provide any additional guidance to volunteers. 

So far in 2021, we’ve visited online sessions hosted in Colombia, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, India, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Romania, Spain, the UK and the USA. Below are the key things we learned about the ways Dojos are operating during this time.

Scratch demonstration during an online Dojo. Image credit: Alessandra Bilardi, @abilardi (Twitter)

Some initial stats

Of the Dojos we visited, 57% ran weekly, 32% ran monthly, and the rest ran fortnightly. As per our guidance for online activities, there should always be at least two adults present at all times. Two thirds of clubs we visited have been running with the help of two to four volunteers, while the remaining third have more volunteers. Broadly, this means fewer volunteers are present at online sessions than Dojos previously reported for in-person sessions. 

 

Implementing the CoderDojo ethos

Dojos running online continue to implement the CoderDojo ethos through their activities. Dojos did this in different ways, including:

  • Using icebreakers or warm-up games to encourage connection with peers
  • Sharing or showcasing projects during or at the end of a session
  • Working together in groups and engaging in peer learning
  • Designating youth mentors to support other Ninjas
  • Encouraging young people to direct their own learning journey
  • Involving parents

Participants waving during a Dojo session using Zoom. Image credit: CoderDojo Aizu, Japan

Challenges and opportunities

Internet access, Ninjas learning to adapt to online tools, and keeping younger participants engaged online were three challenges Dojos mentioned. 

Champions noted that the experience of running online has been invaluable during the pandemic. One champion said, “It has allowed us to keep in touch with our Ninjas and meet even if we are far away.” Although most expressed how glad they are of the skills they have gained, they are looking forward to resuming in-person sessions when it is safe to do so.

CoderDojo volunteers from across Italy meet to arrange a series of online events. Image credit: CoderDojo Pavia and company.

Tools and themes

A Dojo in Romania uses Google Classroom to share projects in advance, and uses the integration of Google Calendar and Google Meet to easily organise their live sessions. 

A Dojo in Germany is really innovative in picking themed sessions. They had an Astro Pi–themed day, and also an eco-themed session.

Others are using Zoom, with some clubs even livestream their session as a code-along to Facebook and YouTube, so more young people can follow along.

 

Additional resources

Find out more about ways to run your CoderDojo club. Learn more about our safeguarding resources and how to report any concern you have.

Hybrid Sessions at CoderDojo Bruges MaM. Image Credit: Shane Deconinck

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