The rapid expansion of CoderDojo, the global volunteer coding clubs for children, founded in Ireland in 2011, will continue next year with significant collaborations involving tech giants such as IBM and Microsoft.
The organisation’s third annual conference at IT Sligo ended on Saturday with the announcements of exciting new partnerships – such as Barclays Bank planning to introduce CoderDojos through all 1500 of its UK branches – as part of its own ‘Digital Eagles’ initiative.
CoderDojo’s mission is to create a world where every child has the opportunity to learn code in a safe, social and collaborative environment.
Supported by the some of the world’s biggest tech companies and run by volunteer mentors and parents, CoderDojo now has more than 500 Dojos or clubs in more than 48 countries, reaching 25,000 children.
Speakers at DojoCon2014 in Sligo included CoderDojo co-founder and entrepreneur Bill Liao, Dave Shepherd, Head of Frontline Help at Barclays Bank, Debbie Forster of UK Apps for Good, CoderDojo CEO Mary Moloney and RTE ‘Science Squad’ presenter Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain.
“Coding is the fundamental value generator for nearly every company on earth. If you were to try and pay for the expertise that’s given freely to CoderDojo you’d go broke,” founder Bill Liao told Dojocon2014.
“Openness is baked into CoderDojo – openness is the future,” he added.
The conference heard of CoderDojo’s massive recent growth – with over 500 Dojos now established all over the globe. Delegates attended from Belgium, the US, Britain and the Netherlands, and shared their own stories of establishing volunteer coding clubs for children in their own communities.
New CEO, Mary Moloney, formerly a senior executive with Accenture, got a warm welcome from delegates at the IT Sligo Knocknarea Arena. Her aim is continue the global focus of CoderDojo and create further collaborations.
“It’s not only about coding, it’s about confidence, teamwork, knowledge sharing,” Moloney told delegates.
Microsoft, IBM, AutoDesk, MissionV and Barclays all made announcements in relation to new platforms and facilities they are making available for CoderDojos and the thousands of children who participate.
These will give access to learning platforms, remote mentoring facilities and new bricks-and-mortar venues for dojos across the globe. Dave Shepherd of Barclays revealed how the bank’s 1500-strong branch network is to rollout Dojos for children across the UK from now.
CoderDojo also announced links to a number of high profile UK ‘coding in the community’ organisations like Apps for Good and Young Rewired State and plans are underway for some more formal collaboration in the coming year. .
In the Education stream, there was an invitation to dojos to participate in the European Week of Code from Nellie Kroes Irish Ambassador, Julie Cullen. Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin of UCD and RTE’s ‘Science Squad’ presented research on learning about algorithms and numbers.
CoderDojo was founded by James Whelton and Bill Liao. It started in James Whelton’s school in early 2011 when James (then 18) received publicity on hacking the iPod Nano and as a result some students expressed an interest in learning how to code. He set up a computer club in his school (PBC Cork) and started teaching students basic HTML and CSS. Later that year he met Bill Liao who was interested in growing the project into something bigger