Written by Digital Social Innovation
Five Tech Skill Initiatives For Your Kid(s)
26th September 2014
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To make the most of the opportunities in an increasingly technological and digitized world, the ability to hack, make and develop is crucial. This is a huge challenge for most European countries and their education systems. Luckily, there are organizations who are paving the way, pioneering new ways of helping young people build tech skills for the future. Together with like-minded peers. Here’s five of our favorite initiatives.
CoderDojo is an online network of local, independent, volunteer-led programming clubs, or ‘dojo’s’, led by volunteers, where children (aged 5 to 17) can learn to code for free. The organization was founded by the then 18 year old Irishman James Whelton with the help of entrepreneur Bill Liao. As of September 2014, there are 480 dojo’s across the globe; each one having the same rule: “Above All: Be Cool.” With an estimated average of 30 attendees per dojo (2013), CoderDojo has teached more than 14,000 children to code.
The goal of Code Club, a network of after-school and volunteer-led coding clubs, founded in April 2012 by Clare Sutcliffe and Linda Sandvik, is to have a coding program in every primary school in the UK. The basic concept is to give children aged 9 to 11 one hour per week to learn how to program games, make animations and design websites. The clubs are primarily organized at primary schools and public venues. At this moment, September 2014, there are 1984 Code Clubs active in the UK, teaching over 27,000 children.
Young Rewired State
Young Rewired State is a global network of kids (aged 18 and under) who have taught themselves to program computers. Young Rewired State, founded by Emma Mulqueeny, organizes events around the world where children use open (government) data to create websites, apps and algorithms to solve real world challenges. One of these events, and the one with which it all started, is the Festival of Code. Every first week of august, children across the UK meet and get to work with the open data. The festival has now grown to have 1,000 participants in 60 centers. It ends with a long weekend of showcasing the projects everybody has been working on.
Belgium based Devoxx4Kids’ goal is to introduce teenagers not only to programming, but also to robotics, using Lego Mindstorm and the NAO Humanoid Robot, and engineering. Devoxx4Kids, an initiative by the technology conference organizer Devoxx, organizes events throughout the whole world. Already 1,950 children are learning to create their own computer games, program real robots and get an introduction to electronics. In this way, children will get to taste the endless possibilities of what is possible with their computer.
Estonia, with only 1,3 million inhabitants, puts a lot of effort into teaching children how to code. It has launched a nationwide initiative to teach children (7 to 19 years old) to code at school. One of the drivers of this initiative is NutiLabor(which translates to SmartLab), which organizes after-school events for children to motivate them to learn more about IT and start studying in this field. NutiLabor is a project initiated by Microsoft Estonia, Telecom companies EMT and Elion, and the NGO Look@World Foundation. The aim of the project in the long run is to decrease the unemployment among the youth of Estonia. Since 2012, more than 600 children have participated in 36 NutiLabors across Estonia.
Teaching children digital skills is key to ensuring that Europe has key skills to make the most of the potential in digital social innovation that we look at in our research project. The initiatives shown span a large part of Europe – there must be one near you. So learn how to code and let your children too. Did we miss any examples? Please let us know in the comments below.
This blog is part of the Digital Social Innovation study lead by Waag Society, NESTA, and Esade Business School. The study maps Digital Social Innovators in Europe and beyond. If you are one yourself, please put your initiative on the map at www.digitalsocial.eu.