CoderDojo: Free Computer Classes for Children

What is CoderDojo?

A free and non-profit club that gives children a taste of working with computer languages and develop the growing skills of children who already have taken their first steps in an organic environment; something that our education system has yet to address.

Origins

It’s Co-founder, Corkonian, James Whelton (Entrepreneur & a Social Media Connoisseur) began coding in his bedroom when he was 9 where he created some basic websites. He shot to fame at 17 when (out of boredom) he hacked into the iPod nano, put his findings up on the web and the story sprouted legs, wings, and jet propulsion, within hours he was on the subject of some of the world’s most prestigious tech blogs.

James is the sort of person who seems somewhat anti-establishment but is already reshaping what establishment means in the world of programming.

Last year James (still only 18) teamed up with Bill Liao, the Australian Social Networking pioneer,  author, speaker, and philanthropist and together they came of with the concept of CoderDojo.

Like James, Bill is a self taught Computer Programmer.

Importance of CoderDojo

Bill Liao explains why CoderDojo is so important; if you ask somebody how the computers work, beyond surfing the net, Word, Excel or Powerpoint etc. a surprising amount of people do not have the first notion.

Since last year these coding classes for children which deal with HTML, CSS, Javascript and a host of other languages that create websites and online games have literally gone viral with the count now at 130 around the ever decreasing globe.

The first CoderDojo conference was held at Limerick Institute of Technology on Saturday 13th October 2012.

The atmosphere of the classes was reflected the conference, the only rule of CoderDojo is “One Rule, Be Cool”. James, Bill and a host of other Dojo Mentors, facilitators and children explained how these CoderDojos worked.

The Dojos encourage children to work together on projects as they find the synergy more effective. If a child is stuck on a particular piece of code they are encouraged firstly to google the answer, secondly to ask one of their fellow club  members before, thirdly, approaching a Mentor.

Where many children started off on their bedrooms, like James, CoderDojos have made computer programming a social event. Within the year many of the club members have become mentors themselves. In fact earlier on this year a group of kid mentors visited Leinster House and gave a CoderDojo class to irish Politicians.

Adults can also take part in the clubs but they must be accompanied by a child.

To find out more, or even better, start your own local CoderDojo please click here.

Find you local Coderdojo here.

Oh and one last thing thank you to Bill Liao for introducing me to Bubble Tea.

James Whelton

Bill Liao

Limerick Institute of Technology

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2 responses to “CoderDojo: Free Computer Classes for Children

  1. Organizing free computer classes for children will go a long way when it comes to making computer education easily accessible to children from marginalized sections of the society.

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