Monday 15 July 2019

An cód: Now children can learn computer coding in Irish for the first time

Alice Downes, from Kinvara in Galway, gets an early start on the ‘Hour of Code’ Photo: Andrew Downes
Alice Downes, from Kinvara in Galway, gets an early start on the ‘Hour of Code’ Photo: Andrew Downes

Patrick Kelleher

children can now develop their Irish language and computer coding skills at the same time, thanks to an American professor's love of the language.

Computer science professor Kevin Scannell, from St Louis University in Missouri, has translated 20 hours worth of coding material into Irish for Hour of Code 2016.

Hour of Code is an annual global initiative designed to encourage young people to learn computer coding in hour-long sessions.

The focus is on making coding fun through the use of popular games like Minecraft, as well as films such as 'Star Wars' and 'Frozen'.

Movement

This year marks the third year the event has been run in Ireland since it was taken up by digital learning movement, Excited.

The movement was co-founded in 2014 by Fine Gael TD Ciaran Cannon.

Mr Cannon took on the Hour of Code initiative after meeting its founder at the Web Summit three years ago, where he was asked to promote it in Ireland.

Ella Moore, Emma O'Brien and Rachel Groarke, 6th class students from St Olafs National School, Sandyford taking part in a Minecraft Hour of Code at Microsofts offices. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
Ella Moore, Emma O'Brien and Rachel Groarke, 6th class students from St Olafs National School, Sandyford taking part in a Minecraft Hour of Code at Microsofts offices. Picture credit; Damien Eagers

The event has been a huge success since it first came to Ireland, but this year marks the first time that coding lessons will be available online through the Irish language.

Prof Scannell kickstarted the initiative as he loves the language and believes children should be able to access coding lessons in their mother tongue.

While the whole website is not accessible in Irish, 20 hours' worth of learning material are now.

The Hour of Code, which is being run as a part of Computer Science week, begins today and will be run through schools and coding clubs around the country.

Children will take part in hour-long coding sessions designed to demystify code and help them learn the basics.

Mr Cannon says children should learn computer coding to understand how technology works.

"All children should at least have a basic understanding of how technology works and should be able to understand that they can create their own technology rather than using other people's technology," he said. "In order to be powerful shapers of their own futures, they need to have these skills in a basic fashion."

Mr Cannon also hopes the availability of the lessons in the Irish language will help to make learning the language fun.

"It normalises the use of the language in a very modern context," he said.

The Galway East TD hopes the use of modern games will help to make both coding and the Irish language interesting and entertaining for a young audience.

"If you can take something as digitally contemporary as Minecraft and 'Star Wars', and you can access it through the Irish language, that gives it a whole new relevance for a new generation," he told the Irish Independent.

Over 180 countries take part in the Hour of Code, with 135,301 events taking place worldwide. See hourofcode.com/ie for more details.

Irish Independent

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