Head of Code Club UK and Ireland, Lucia Manzitti, has been finding out how Code Clubs around the world are keeping kids coding during the pandemic. Recently she spoke to Maddy Bazett, Program Owner of Code Club Canada.
When schools and community spaces started to close across Canada, Maddy and the team knew they needed to rise to the challenge. They wanted to make sure that kids attending Code Clubs could keep coding from home, and that others new to coding had the opportunity to have a go! The team’s quick reaction enabled them to set up free online Code Club sessions within the first week! At first, they were launched as a public drop-in model, but this was soon adapted to attendees having to preregister for a school term. Code Club Canada set up six coding sessions and a final sharing session both in English and in French, to offer support to learners speaking either language.
Every session is hosted on Whereby, and has a facilitator instructor and a moderator to monitor members’ questions and chat. This team comes from KCJ, a bilingual Canadian charity whose mission is to give every Canadian child access to digital skills education, and who support Code Club Canada with their mission.
The young learners mainly work on Scratch and Python projects as the experience is entirely on the computer. Maddy shared that from the 17 March to 14 May, members spent a total of 763 hours coding online with Code Club Canada! A live online Code Club provides a different learning environment for members compared to an in-person club. Members had been used to buddying up with a friend to work through projects, but they now work online, independently, and sometimes with a parent.
Facilitators shared how learners had become more dependent on the step-by-step instructions, and got used to working on a split screen and switching tabs. With time, they became more confident, interacting with the facilitator, sharing their screens, and using their mic to ask questions. An online Code Club still provided an opportunity for young coders to share their cool projects with their peers. But instead of their peers being from their school, they were often from a completely different part of the country. “We have heard back that kids are very excited when a club member is from another part of Canada and are in awe and ask: ‘How are you here, from somewhere else?”
Even in these strange times, Code Club is still helping people to connect.