Computer coding for children to start up in Kilkenny

An initiative to teach children how to write computer code and develop websites and apps is starting up in Kilkenny.

An initiative to teach children how to write computer code and develop websites and apps is starting up in Kilkenny.

Part of the non-profit network CoderDojo – which started in Cork and now has centres not just throughout Ireland but from Switzerland and Russia to Argentina, Japan and the US – it is being hosted at the Young Irish Film Makers headquarters on the Waterford Road, Kilkenny.

The set-up is that children will come to the free sessions with their parents (and parents can learn too, if they wish) and they will be taught by local mentors from the field of IT.

As the organisation’s own website explains: “At a CoderDojo, young people learn how to code, develop websites, apps, programs, games and more. Dojos are set up, run by and taught at by volunteers. Dojos organise tours of technology companies, bring in guest speakers to talk about their career and what they do, and organise events. In addition to learning to code, members meet like-minded people, show off what they’ve been working on and so on. CoderDojo makes development and learning to code a fun, sociable, kick-ass experience. CoderDojo also puts a strong emphasis on open source and free software, and has a strong network of members and volunteers globally.

“CoderDojo has just one rule: ‘Above All: Be Cool.’ Bullying, lying, wasting people’s time and so on is uncool.”

In Kilkenny, the organiser is Young Irish Film Makers administrator Angela Walsh, who was inspired to take on the role in part because two of her sons are in the IT industry. Eight people have signed up to be mentors, and the first mentors meeting is set to take place this weekend to plan out how the sessions will work. There has already been a large amount of interest too, with a full course of 40 participants set to take part.

CoderDojo also involves a series of “badges” and “belts” that recognise participants’ developing skills and “elements of social good” such as an “Old People Rock” badge that’s earned by teaching five elderly people how to use the internet.

Overall the intention is “to create the next wave of employment for Ireland,” Ms Walsh said. “There are kids out there who are 11 years old and are being taught by their parents. ... I think the talent is out there, and the kids are so bright.”

For more information about CoderDojo in Kilkenny, email ang@yifm.com.