Linda Sandvik: Hacking the future

Orde Saunders' avatarPublished: by Orde Saunders

Linda Sandvik (@Hyper_Linda ) was talking about teaching kids to code at #TIDE, these are my notes from her talk.

"I teach primary school children how to program because the government isn't."

March 2012 - decided to invite a bunch of kids to an awesome hack day so they could learn how to code before going back to school to learn how to use powerpoint. Ended up with the idea of Code Club, a nationwide network of volenteer after school clubs with the mission to inspire kids to learn how to code. Initial one page website got picked up by Wired and BBC News and 2,000 people signed up so it had to become a thing!

Came up with activity sheets that show people how to build a game in an environment called Scratch - created at MIT to teach kids how to code. GUI app that provides building blocks that you can drag and drop. It's made for kids but is great fun to play around with, even for experienced developers. The activity sheets break things down into steps that get harder and harder.

Started with 20 pilot schools. Looked at how it was used and what the problems are - user testing and iteration. Metrics included laughs, smiles and high fives. Rated 92% fun - FACT.

  • Designing for kids is VERY different - they do their own thing.
  • Tech constraints at schools - everything has to work offline.
  • Diffentiation - kids have different abilities so have to cater for a wide range of abilities.

Opened it up in September 2012 and there are now 1314 clubs round the country.

Volunteer + venue + projects + children = code club.

Tend to use schools as they have computers and children. Some teachers are now doing it in school time - over 600. Making mistakes is a part of the process of learning - the current school system puts a high premium on being right and a vital part of learning is being neglected as a result. Happy accidents can happen and mistakes can be a good thing.

Code Club is now open source on GitHub. Building websites is a good lesson as browsers are forgiving of mistakes.

We teach everyone maths, english and science because they are necessary to understand the world we live in - it's the same with coding. Computers control everything, we need to understand how they work.

The problem with code club: It's oversubscribed! We can't teach everyone who wants to go, there aren't enough volunteers. It should be integrated into the curriculum.

We used to have polymaths but we now have jack-of-all-trades, being multi-skilled has gone from being good to being bad.

Why not have a GitHub for teachers where they can share and collaborate on lesson plans?

Code Club is now worldwide - every continent except Antarctica. Not so much launched as gave in to everyone asking when it was going to be available in their country.

40% of kids in code clubs are girls!

The negative feedback from teachers has been from teachers who aren't involved in Code Club. Kids who are doing code club are tending to do better in other classes.

Sign up to help run a Code Club: codeclub.org.uk