Thursday 18 January 2018

Schools embrace the digital age as coding becomes part of curriculum

Giustina Mizzoni is dispelling stereotypes. Photo: Doug O’Connor
Giustina Mizzoni is dispelling stereotypes. Photo: Doug O’Connor

Greg Harkin

Coding is set to become the norm in all schools across the State as a new computer sciences subject is rolled out, the TD who began the country's revolution has said.

Deputy Ciarán Cannon got the coding ball rolling more than three years ago in groups and schools around Ireland.

Almost 7,000 children have attended coding workshops this year, with events in 232 schools and centres.

Thousands of children in hundreds of schools took part in this week's Hour of Code initiative.

"We now have a commitment from Government and from Minister Richard Bruton for computer science to become an integral part of the education system," said Mr Cannon, who attended a symposium at Farmleigh in Dublin yesterday.

"As has been pointed out at the conference, we have been on the starting line for so many years but nobody had fired the starting gun and today the gun has been fired."

British film director David Puttnam was among the guests at the conference.

"David is a huge advocate of digital learning.

"He said to me three years ago that Ireland had at most three to four years to get this right or our people would be left behind. David has always been at our shoulder," Mr Cannon said.

He said the involvement of companies like Microsoft and Facebook had helped bring together critical expertise to make the delivery of coding to young people easier and more fun.

Nuala McHale is the community engagement volunteer with the coding champions CoderDojo, which was founded in Cork five years ago.

"At Dojos, young people learn about technology in fun, safe, creative club environments," she said.

"Volunteers are the backbone of the CoderDojo movement. They give their time to enable young people globally to develop deep technology skills, but also through the experience and environment (to develop) a host of transferable skills including, creativity, problem solving, communication, leadership and teamwork."

This year, 157,281 events were registered worldwide over the past six days, with 232 of these being in Ireland.

While the Hour of Code is an introduction to coding and is particularly visual, CoderDojo offers a regular and creative club-based environment for children to experiment and try out their tech ideas with a variety of languages and hardware.

"The Hour of Code is a campaign aimed at engaging all students and introduce them to coding," said Giustina Mizzoni, executive director at the CoderDojo Foundation.

"With this campaign, we aim to dispel stereotypes associated with the tech industry and get young people excited about the endless possibilities available to them when they learn how to create using technology."

Irish Independent

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