This week has been designated European Code week or to give it it’s twitter hashtag #codeEU. Europe Code Week has been championed by Neelie Kroes, the Dutch politician who is the European Commissioner for Digital Agenda and is also a vice president of the European Parliament.
Ireland is leading the way across the EU when it comes to encouraging youngsters to take up coding and in Ireland Galway is taking a leading role. That Galway Education centre, with Bernard Kirk at the helm has been pivotal all week in promoting and organising a large number of events.
Computer programming is being heralded as the new literacy, yet it is still widely perceived as a skill that can only mastered with a computer science degree. With the wider availability of internet connectivity and freely available, easy to use technologies, this is no longer the case.
With that in mind, over twenty events have been facilitated across a number of city primary schools this week, with the objective of encouraging the 11/12 year olds to ‘give coding a try’. The response from the kids has been brilliant and it is also provoking a growing interest among teachers, who can see the value of young children experimenting with the basics of computer programming.
There are several ‘coding tools’ available today which makes programming a ‘fun thing’ rather than a chore. MIT’s Scratch is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. It is provided free of charge. MIT is the world’s leading university and as they put it “Scratch helps young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively — essential skills for life in the 21st century.”
The “Twitter Machine” has been hopping all week as the various schools have been tweeting their messages about their particular events. Local Galway politician and junior minister Ciaran Cannon is a keen tweeter and a strong supporter of all efforts to better equip youngsters to position themselves to cope with the ever changing technologies.
Bernard Kirk points out that while a lot of emphasis this week has been on the primary school students, coding is not a preserve of youth. “On Monday we had six and seven year olds involved and on Tuesday we had a groups of active retired teachers visit the Education Centre for some Scratch demonstrations”It is a certainty that a large proportion of the ‘working lives’ into the foreseeable future will be heavily influenced by computers with the consequent requirement for people to programme them. The conventional wisdom at present would tend to indicate that the work will be available and that is why educators like Bernard Kirk and the Galway Education centre see their work of encouragement with both teachers and students as critical future proofing.
Click below to see the Galway City Tribune coverage.