A Hectic Digital Week
The last week was a very busy week for our Digital team. Laura and CodeClub volunteer and STEMNet Ambassador Tom ran the first of our CodeClub sessions. CodeClub is a monthly programming club for 9-11 year old children (Laura blogged about it here). I ran a second Google Apps session for some of our volunteers and we also ran our public #HourOfCode programming taster event, with special guest and Manchester Girl Geek Karen Pudner.
Cre8iveFront very kindly ran our LiveTweet and Taym Al-Ali photography also very kindly offered to take pictures of the session. You can follow our activities on #CodeClubBurnage and see our gallery of images below. Very professional! Thank you to both companies for their generous support. Please follow them on twitter and Facebook.
We sold out of the apprentice programmer tickets and the session was very well attended. It was a bit ‘seat of the pants’ for a while, as we didn’t initially have everyone in the room at 6:30pm. A number of attendees arrived after we started, so we had to rush to get them set up. They of course missed my stand-up comedy routine as the intro, though that may have been a blessing in disguise (coders are a tough crowd :)
How do you do yours?
Conscious that our session would have to cater for beginners and seasoned amateurs alike, one of the difficulties of catering for such a diverse range of experience is choosing a learning model. Just like experienced artists and craftspeople, experienced coders prefer to get on with it, with light touch support. Whilst beginners need the structural basics and often learn better in more traditional settings. Our #HourOfCode, was pitched right in the middle, with the Code Academy website being the main tutor and all of us provided support to that. We needed to know how much of each we would get, which would then allow us to choose how to split activities.
As well as teaching people to code, the session informed a lot of our medium term digital strategy. This year is the year of code, and as we make our way through the rest of 2014, worldwide initiatives such as the summer of code, will see a number of new novice events spring up. So we also wanted to gauge the public appetite for community programming groups. Our vision is to foster technical engagement for people of all ages and skill levels. As a result, we’re planning to run several events aimed at different user groups, including both the very young through CodeClub and CoderDojo and older people’s IT through ITea and Biscuits week. We’re also a registered UK Online Centre and some of our technical volunteers have kindly offered to help out, by being available to support those courses.
You’ll probably know from recent media exposure and the reopening of central library, that Manchester already has a very established and vibrant community tech scene. Places like the northern quarter, TechHub and The Sharp Project play host to Manchester Girl Geeks, Linux User Group, XP Manchester, Raspberry Pi Jam, WordPress User Group, Young Rewired State, the Free Software Foundation, Lean Agile, ThoughtWorks Geek Nights, Tech Meetups and a plethora of tech startups. In recent months several events have been run outside the city centre, including at Longsight library. We wanted to make Burnage the latest addition to that family and hope that attendees and the community enjoyed the intro to the tech community and welcomed the chance to engage.
Just by chance, I got talking to a local businessman and there may be more of a chance to split these sessions, so community tech groups can use the library as a hackspace and host dojos, whilst we find opportunities for beginners to learn and perhaps gain qualifications in programming. So watch this space!
Again, huge THANKS to everyone who made the evening what it was. We’ll be having more of these, so definitely tune in to see what events we’re running. On behalf the friends group, we look forward to seeing you at future sessions.
Were you at our night? What did you think of the event? Let us know by filling in the post-event questionnaire we sent out. Alternatively, if you have a group you’d like to start, a suggestion you’dlike to make or a course you’d like to run, feel free to get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org.