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. 

Code Club celebrates International Women’s Day

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we want to introduce you to some of the amazing women who work for Code Club across the world. 

They told us about the women who have inspired them, from grandmothers, to teachers, to scientists, and it’s been amazing to hear the impact that these #RealRoleModels have had on our colleagues’ lives. 

She wanted her school to be the best school for girls 

Lucia Manzitti, Head of Code Club UK and Ireland 

“My grandmother has been a huge inspiration to me. She founded a school for girls in Argentina, where we were taught to be independent, smart, and brave — all qualities she had. She was a great leader, she wanted her school to be the best school for girls in Argentina, and she was always innovating and taking inspiration from other schools around the world.

She introduced the International Baccalaureate (IB) to Argentina, and her school was the first to pilot the IB Diploma in 1976. She made sure her students were able to sit their Cambridge exams during the Falklands War; she hid their completed exam papers in the back of a car, drove to Uruguay, and sent them to the UK to be marked. She was awarded an MBE for this. She had a very clear vision, tremendous vigour, and was never silenced. She knew what she wanted and she did what she had to. I miss her every day.”

Jumped in and had a go! 

Nicola Curnow, Code Club Australia Program Manager

“I’m inspired daily by other women in tech, especially the teachers and volunteers who didn’t think they could code and jumped in and had a go, women of the past like Ada Lovelace, and women I work with every day who are in the minority in so many rooms but still outshine everyone!”

Learning fab new skills

Liz Smart, Programme Coordinator, Regional Engagement 

“Lisa Brown runs both Manchester CoderDojo and Cheadle CoderDojo and inspired me to start my own. She fills her time volunteering and learning fab new skills — she even made me some awesome hand warmers in my team’s colours to keep me cosy at the football.” 

The only female school leader

Vasu Srivastava, Club Programme Coordinator, India

“I met Ms Divya Lokesh in 2016, and she was the only female school leader in the entire cohort of more than 30 leaders in Bangalore, India. She not only inspired me, but thousands of children who come to her school every day. 

She encouraged a lot of co-curricular activities in her school, despite it being the less popular choice amongst parents and management. She started Classical & Western Dance classes for the children in middle school, and hired a self-defence expert to teach the adolescent girls in her school. 

She is a pioneer in her field and is also a proud mother of two children; she manages a household and a school with more than 1700 children; she truly is inspiring!” 

Always DANCE! 

Christina Foust, Club Programs Manager, USA 

“I’m inspired daily by my mother, Emerita. She taught me that life is short, so do what makes you happy. Spend time with loved ones! Travel! Be kind! And always, DANCE!”

Totally awestruck

Kat Leadbetter, Programme Coordinator, Global Engagement

“I studied Astronomy at university and always felt hugely inspired by Jocelyn Bell Burnell, a physicist who helped discover the first pulsar. As she was a postgrad student when the discovery was made, Bell Burnell was never properly credited and therefore missed out on the Nobel Prize awarded to other scientists she had worked with. Regardless, she dealt with this gracefully and had a successful career in what is still a very male-dominated field. When she was the speaker at my graduation ceremony, I was totally awestruck!”

Share with us

Which women have inspired you in your life? Share with us on Twitter at Code Club UK or Code Club World and use the hashtag #RealRoleModels.