Ross O’Neill is Community and Communications Lead at CoderDojo. In 2015 CoderDojo received funding under Erasmus+ KA2 Vocational Education and Training for a Strategic Partnership project involving five organisations in Ireland, Spain, and Poland.
"CoderDojo is a global movement of free, volunteer-led, community-based programming clubs for young people. At a Dojo, young people aged between seven and 17 learn how to code and develop websites, apps, programs and games, and explore technology in an informal and creative environment. Throughout our four years of existence, we at CoderDojo have learned that having Dojos outside of a classroom setting helps to encourage young people’s creativity and allows for self-led learning. Dojos are largely unstructured and young people are given the opportunity to work on projects of their choosing which makes learning to code seem less like another subject and more like a hobby.
Our Erasmus+ project is called Training in ICT Programming Skills. One of the main aims of the project is to examine how evidence of learning gained by CoderDojo participants might be recognised. A large part of the initiative is listening to parents, mentors and organisers involved in the Dojo, finding out what the important issues are and developing resources based on this feedback. There are five partner organisations involved in the project, each focusing on different areas with results that will be published periodically during 2015-2017:
By surveying the existing CoderDojo community, our partners are in the process of developing a CoderDojo International Toolkit. This will be a detailed set of recommendations, methodologies and guidelines covering all aspects of establishing and operating a CoderDojo Chapter.
Continued support from European programmes such as Erasmus+ is vital, and we also believe more could be done by both governments and European institutions to support informal coding activities as well as formal coding in schools. Introducing coding into school curricula is a huge step in the right direction, as is making ICT training compulsory for incoming teachers. Supporting programmes like CoderDojo, held outside of the formal education system, gives European institutions a viable avenue for ensuring more youth are exposed to coding in a meaningful and creative way. CoderDojo provides an opportunity for children to maintain and further develop an interest in coding whether it was gained from taking part in Code Week or from a computational thinking class in school.
Through our Erasmus+ project, our findings so far are that European institutions should:
The next meeting of all five Erasmus+ project partners will be in Madrid, Spain in April. We’ll also organise colloquium events as part of DojoCon 2016 and hold a final event in 2017. You can follow our progress at https://coderdojo.com/news/category/erasmus/."
Images courtesy of CoderDojo Foundation. We welcome contributions to 'Insights' at email@example.com.