Learning a new language at a young age

CoderDojo, an exciting movement centred around free not-for-profit coding clubs and regular sessions for young people, has arrived in Longford. The local club was established by a local group of volunteers, and classes have been taking place at the Longford County Enterprise Board (LCEB) offices since late April.

CoderDojo, an exciting movement centred around free not-for-profit coding clubs and regular sessions for young people, has arrived in Longford. The local club was established by a local group of volunteers, and classes have been taking place at the Longford County Enterprise Board (LCEB) offices since late April.

This CoderDojo club was established under a six-week format which will end on May 26 next. It has, however, been deemed a “great success” by Longford club volunteer, Dave Madden, and it is anticipated that the club will resume again in the near future.

“I found out about the CoderDojo movement and I felt that it was a great idea. In Longford we found a really high calibre of people who were willing to volunteer their time to teach the club’s members. They were taught two main software languages, HTML and Scratch,” said Mr Madden of Blended Learning Design, Longford.

He continued: “Our aim is to resume in the autumn following the summer break.”

With 30 members aged between 10 and 16 years, the successful running of the club became a collaborative effort between parents and volunteer teachers.

“The spirit of collaboration and co-operation has been fantastic. Everything has been managed by consensus and we have received great support from Michael Nevin (LCEB),” said Mr Madden.

CoderDojo was founded by James Whelton and Bill Liao. It was first started in James Whelton’s school in 2011 when James received some publicity after hacking the iPod Nano and some younger students expressed an interest in learning how to code. James set up a computer club at his school (PBC Cork) and there he started teaching basic HTML and CSS.

Later that year he met with Bill Liao, an entrepreneur and philanthropist, who was interested in growing the project into something bigger. Today there are CoderDojos around the world (coderdojo.com).

At a CoderDojo young people typically learn how to code, develop websites, apps, programs and games. In addition to learning to code, members meet like-minded people and demonstrate what they have been working on.

In Longford, the following volunteers were involved in the establishment of the pilot Longford CoderDojo club - Daniel Brierton, Paul Greally (Create Interactive), Tom Swanick (Epicor), Brian Egan (Purple Decks), Cathy Lynch, Gerry Forde (Newodessey), Mervyn Graham (Zoosh), Dave Madden (Blended Learning Design), and Daniel Quinn (Citrus Orange).

“In Ireland we aim to build a knowledge economy; however, children are not being taught code at school. CoderDojo is a response to the Government’s inactivity in primary and secondary schools,” said Mr Madden.