Thinking creatively to give children in India meaningful learning opportunities at home

Pi Jam Foundation is a non-profit organisation based in India, equipping students and educators with tools to learn and create with technology. Pi Jam has been committed to ensuring that learning continues during the coronavirus pandemic. 

We want to share some of the amazing work that Pi Jam has done to support young coders and volunteers. 

Connecting with WhatsApp 

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the digital divide more than ever. Pi Jam started to think about how they could still provide a learning experience for their Code Club members who were now learning from home, often with limited connectivity and hardware.  

Pi Jam decided to send computer science videos and worksheets of unplugged activities through WhatsApp! The response from Code Club members was amazing, and you can see some of the projects they completed (in Telugu) in the image below. 

“While there are a lot of high-quality unplugged resources, we realised the need for making contextual content relevant to the needs of the students we work with. Hence we started creating unplugged content in-house so that students have a seamless learning experience.”

– Pranjali, Pi Jam Foundation

Doorstep learning 

Yashoda, a Pi Jam instructor and Code Club volunteer who lives in rural Parbhani, Maharashtra, found curious students showing up at her door wanting to learn! Yashoda wanted to keep teaching her students, and following the local public health guidelines on social distancing, she started to teach in small groups, using a basic Raspberry Pi setup. 

Yashoda supporting young learners

Pi Jam had this to say about Yashoda: 

“We are proud to work with Yashoda, who has evidently not seen her context as a limitation, using this opportunity to innovate her instruction in a way that makes her budding problem-solver students proud.”

Pi Lab goes live! 

Pi Jam Foundation runs a programme called Pi Lab, and the team has been providing live online computer science sessions for students from various partner schools (government and low-income schools) in Pune, Maharashtra. The students who have joined this online learning experience are aged 10 to 14 and had previously attended a face-to-face Code Club before social distancing measures were introduced.

Pi Lab said this about the sessions: 

“For most of the students in these sessions, it was their first-ever experience with creating using computing skills, and it has been incredible to witness and encourage their inquisitive minds.” 

Stay connected 

The work of Pi Jam Foundation is just one inspiring example of how Code Clubs across the world are staying connected with their members during these extraordinary times. Share with us how you have been staying in contact with your Code Club on Twitter at Code Club UK or Code Club World and use the hashtag #MyCodeClub.

Want to find out more about Code Club in India? Contact Divya and Vasu, who are happy to chat with you about the Code Club community in India. 

Be inspired by Code Club Canada and their response to the pandemic

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.

Getting Code Club Canada online!

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.

Lucia was interested to know how parents reacted to the change in sign-up, from public drop-in to preregistration, and the more structured content: 

“Parents appreciated the structure and what to expect from the next session. Knowing the details put parents’ minds at ease, they could now count on something consistent. As weeks went by we noticed that there were repeat children and parents attending the sessions.” 

An online session explained 

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. 

Lucia asked Maddy how they planned their sessions:

“We needed some structure, instructors needed to know what to prepare and it made sense for us to utilise the Code Club curriculum and the progression of a programming language through a module.” 

The young learners mainly work on Scratch and Python projects as the experience is entirely within the computer. Maddy shared that from the 17 March to 14 May, members have spent a total of 763 hours coding online with Code Club Canada! 

Members try out the Code Club Rockband project in Scratch!

How did learners adjust to an online experience? 

A live online Code Club provides a different learning environment for members compared to an in-person club. While before members were used to buddying up with a friend to work through projects, 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 rather than 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. 

A message from Maddy on setting up an online club 

“Definitely try it! Even if you start with one online club or post pre-recorded sessions for your community to use and engage with. I think people are very appreciative in this time of free, fun and accessible content that kids can spend time on, especially when it’s educational.

And potential future volunteers gain confidence in seeing how a session is run (and that it isn’t so hard!) before they commit to starting one themselves.”

If Code Club Canada has inspired you to set up an online club, we have lots of resources to support you. Take a look at our club guidance or listen back to the community call series. 

To keep up-to-date on Code Club Canada, you can and follow them on Twitter or like their Facebook page. 

Dear Code Club supporters

Dear Code Club supporters, 

We hope you are keeping well. Over the last three months, we’ve seen the Code Club community across the world doing amazing things and adopting new approaches to support children to keep coding from home. 

Many of you have delivered your Code Clubs virtually or online, and to help you navigate this new way of working, we have produced guidance on running clubs online or virtually, which we are continuing to update. It’s packed with great advice, so make sure you take a look!

Aurora working on her coding project

Since the beginning of March, Kat and Nuala have been hosting community calls, and we’ve engaged with more than 1000 members of the community. We have listened to your helpful comments and developed some new topics to meet your needs as a community. All calls are available online for you to listen to, and we plan to continue hosting these calls fortnightly — we hope to see you there soon!

We’ve also loved seeing your club members getting involved with the Digital Making at Home series, and sharing their projects with the team. Head over to rpf.io/home to see this week’s theme, and mark your calendars for Mr C’s next weekly LIVE code-along session on Wednesday 24 June!

Recently, Ed, a young Code Club member, joined Mr C for a live code-along session and interviewed Eben Upton, co-founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Watch the video and find out what Eben’s favourite sweet is! 

Ed, interviewing Mr C and Eben

Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing some amazing stories from India, Canada, Australia, and the UK. We’re so excited to showcase the inspirational work that clubs across the world have been doing. 

In our first blog post, which will be out on Monday 29 June, we will be speaking to Maddy from Code Club Canada, about how their learners have adjusted to the online learning experience.

Maddy Bazett, Code Club Canada

Talking to our fantastic community is helping us to shape and adapt Code Club for the future. I would love to hear how you are getting on! Please share how you have been staying in contact with your Code Club on Twitter at Code Club UK or Code Club World using the hashtag #MyCodeClub.

Stay safe and keep coding! 

Lucia Manzitti

Head of Code Club UK and Ireland