Rock’n’Code, CoderDojo Style @ Slane Castle

Rockncode_James_Whelton_Henry_Mountcharles_smiling CoderDojo Founder James Whelton with Lord Henry of Slane Castle

There is only one place to be this April 12th and 13th. That’s the Boyne Valley area of Ireland.

More specifically, Drogheda and the rock venue Slane Castle. Why? It’s where the global mentor conference is being held. As we know, the CoderDojo phenomenon relies on the voluntary work of mentors. DojoCon2013 is the only international conference aimed at mentors and potential mentors.

Now, in its second year, DojoCon 2013 will provide mentors from across the globe the opportunity to exchange new ideas, explore cutting-edge technologies and share ideas on sustaining and strengthening the CoderDojo movement when the conference opens on April 12th.

Bringing mentors together in one place is the aim of the conference organising team. Paul Browne, one of the organisers continues, “We’ve come through an amazing growth phase with CoderDojo – it really has met a need out there. To make it sustainable, we need to share what works, while keeping the buzz that has made it so successful.”

This theme of sustainability weaves its way through-out the entire conference. Una Fox of CoderDojo Los Angeles will MC the event and there are a huge number of distinguished keynote speakers. These include Jerry Kennelly, an award-winning entrepreneur who started as a photojournalist in Co. Kerry and sold his company (Stockbyte) when it had grown to over 10 per cent of the market for Royalty free photo’s worldwide. Jerry will share his passion for IT in education and the work he is doing with schools country-wide. Kimberly Bryant of Black Girls Code will capstone the event. Flying in from the US, she will be sharing her experiences about gender balance in coding and discuss the sensation that is a complementary club to CoderDojo.

Finishing the conference will be our own Bill Liao, co-founder of CoderDojo and an early investor in the social networking site XING. As Bill recently told the EU Parliament “The World has a shortage of Coders”. Bill will be speaking on how CoderDojo can help fix this, in the process inspiring a new generation of programmers to create apps and websites limited only by their imaginations.

In addition, this year’s schedule will feature more than 12 formal and 10 informal sessions with talks covering three main streams. The first stream is Education which will discus new techniques and how CoderDojo differs from the school approach. The second is Technology where mentors will learn about Advanced Scratch, robotics, gaming, audio and more. The third stream is Running a Dojo with tips and ideas on starting and sustaining a Dojo. In addition, there will be a number of panel discussions on mentoring and collaborating both locally and globally.

New for 2013, DojoCon is kickstarting the conference on Friday night with a series of ‘Ignite talks’. These fast paced talks in an informal setting will set the scene for the weekend. Over a dozen thinkers, coders and educators will have 5 minutes to inspire fellow mentors. The river, where once the Salmon of Knowledge swam, provides the ideal backdrop of the venue for the Friday night Ignite talks. Inspiration and shared experienced will feature heavily in Bru Bar Bistro on Friday night. DojoCon is quickly becoming a highlight in the calendar for both existing and potential mentors. There is a determination among the conference organisers to make it as successful as possible in terms of all the mentors getting to know each other, looking at firm ways of taking the movement to the next level, and agreeing on further inter-dojo collaboration.

The conference is organised by a core group of volunteers from CoderDojo in Drogheda, Dundalk, Navan, and the Science Gallery, Dublin. The whole team of organisers are really excited about having Dojos from California to Belgium and New York City to Sweden in Drogheda for the weekend. We hope it will attract more software professionals in this area and in all towns around the country tovolunteer or start a Dojo and help more kids learn how to code.

For more information, visit the DojoCon2013 website – conference.coderdojo.com

To get a twibbon to support the conference, go to http://twb.ly/15Vb3wl

We look forward to seeing you there,

The DojoCon2013 team