…improve their communication skills, teach them to work in teams, brainstorm and think of creative ideas or solutions…
ChangeX catches up with Giustina Mizzoni, Executive Director at CoderDojo to chat about the rise of the world’s most influential kids technology movement.
CoderDojo was co-founded in 2011 by 18-year-old Cork coder, James Whelton. Having garnering some publicity for hacking the iPod Nano, enthralled, some younger students in his school asked if he’d teach them. Soon after, James set up a computer club in his school, teaching the students basic HTML and CSS. When he came into contact with Bill Liao, an entrepreneur and philanthropist who saw the potential in what James was doing, together the pair founded CoderDojo. Since then it’s become a global phenomenon, with more 1,100 verified Dojos in 63 countries, and new Dojos starting almost every day.
What do you think it is about CoderDojo that has made it such a global success?
â€œThere are a number of reasons and contributing factors that have made CoderDojo a global success – the dedicated community of volunteers being number one. In addition to that, three factors are; demand, ethos and model. Five years ago, nothing like CoderDojo existed. There was huge demand from young people to attend, and also a desire from mentors and volunteers to get involved because it’s something many of them would have loved as kids. From an ethos perspective, Dojos don’t replicate schools, the ethos is centered on encouraging peer learning, project-based learning and self-led learning. They are fun, social spaces that people want to get involved in. Also, from day one, the model was open-sourced, meaning that it was scalable immediately. We’ve focused on documenting learnings and developing resources to assist with scale.â€
Apart from the technical skills that kids gain from CoderDojo, what else does being part of such a movement bring to their lives?
â€œSo much! We recently surveyed a number of CoderDojo alumni who’ve been attending CoderDojo for more than four years. Their favourite thing about participating in the movement varied from making new friends, learning new skills, realising that technology was accessible to them and gaining confidence in themselves and in their ability through youth mentoring opportunities.â€
At its core, the focus is on creating opportunities for young people, where they can learn both the skills and tools so they can be creative and express themselves.
Is CoderDojo only for the technically-minded child?
â€œNo. The purpose of CoderDojo is deeper than just learning to code. At its core, the focus is on creating opportunities for young people, where they can learn both the skills and tools so they can be creative and express themselves. Although a child should definitely have a basic interest in technology, it may just be from playing games online. There is a huge amount of soft transferable skills that young people learn by virtue of attending; communication skills, the ability to think logically and approach problems from different angles, how to work in teams, how to brainstorm and think of creative ideas or solutions. Through this we get a diverse range of young people with many different interests attending Dojos globally. ”
How important do you see the skill of coding being for future generations?
“Incredibly important. The importance of technology can’t be disputed, it’s advancing almost every day. Regardless of if CoderDojo attendees go into the technology sector or not, the skills they learn enable them to both better understand the world they live in, and actively participate and contribute to it.”