Getting young people coding is a high-profile issue at the moment, with a series of dire warnings about the consequences of inaction. An argument for teaching young people to code is that to participate fully in the society and economy of the 21st Century they will need to understand and be able to use a range of digital technologies and tools.
From a lack of capacity in schools, inappropriate curriculum to a negative perception of people who code, there are significant challenges to getting more young people coding. We want to explore the process of working with young people, to support, and inspire them to learn coding and develop computational thinking and use it on ‘real’ world issues they care about.
Our starting point is the everyday experience of the young people in the school, and working with them to understand, explore and develop what it would be like to go to a Smart School that will educate young people for living in a digital future.
We are working with Oasis MediaCity Academy to put this plan into action. The principal, Patrick Ottley-O’Connor, is committed to his school becoming a gateway for his pupils to working in high-profile jobs in places like MediaCity UK. We are converting part of the school into a ‘hackspace’ (see photo).
The hackspace will become a participative and democratic R&D lab for the school. The hackspace will be a place where data will be collated, aggregated, curated and mixed into various interesting things – both physical and digital. The project will bring people with the skills, knowledge and enthusiasm into the school to inspire and support the school community as they explore, understand and seek to change their school and the publics it networks with.
The project is beginning in October 2012 and we are talking to a number of national and local partners – watch this space for news.
If you would like to advise or support this project please get in touch, leave a comment below, or visit the project’s webpage.
James Duggan and Helen Manchester