Learn online with Code Club and CoderDojo!

Over the past nine months, Code Club and CoderDojo have teamed up to run a series of community calls. In this blog Kat shares some of her favourite sessions, and gives a sneak peak of our new series of online workshops.

In March 2020, we took to the internet in search of a way to support coding clubs who wanted to continue running. Our solution was a series of community calls to share tips and ideas, offer practical examples, and give you the opportunity to ask your questions! 

Twenty one calls, 720 attendees, and lots of fruitful discussions later, here are some of the sessions we loved the most.

Taking your first steps 

In the ‘Ways to restart your Code Club’ session we covered the online, remote, and in-person options for your club, to help you decide which might be the best fit for you.

Rohima shared her perspective as a club volunteer, and talked through how she prepared to run both in-person and online sessions. 

Running online

As Code Clubs around the world went online, we delved into the challenges and also unexpected benefits of running online sessions. 

Our ‘Tools and software for running an online club’ is a great watch for anyone who is starting to plan online sessions. Check it out to discover the pros and cons of some popular video conferencing and live streaming tools. 

A gif showing Kat and Nuala next to a powerpoint slide

In the ‘Best practice for online sessions’ call you can find important safeguarding information, ideas on how to prepare for your session, and useful tips from a club leader. 

A screen grab with Kat, Christina, and Nuala next to a slide sharing online safety and safeguarding

Build your skills 

Over the summer we ran three training sessions on Scratch, HTML, and Python. I particularly loved the Scratch session, which had lots of tips to help you take your Scratch learning further in your club. 

You can find all the recordings of our previous calls on our GoToStage channel.

Join our NEW 2021 series of online workshops

There are three upcoming online workshops, so make sure to register if you’d like to join us. We’ll be discussing: 

Can’t make those times? Don’t worry! Everyone who registers will be sent a recording, so you can always catch up later. 

Got an idea for a future online workshop that you’d like to see? Let us know on support@codeclub.org. You can sign up for all our upcoming online sessions and events over on the Code Club website

Community members share advice for running online Code Club sessions!

We understand that going online to run a Code Club session might be making you feel a little nervous. We’re here to support you every step of the way on this new learning journey. Check out our new guidance on online sessions, and read on to hear top tips and words of advice from Code Club educators around the world.

Try it! 

After a summer break, Meriden Code Club are back running online club sessions on Zoom. They shared these words of encouragement: 

“For people worried about starting something online, or doing anything different with their club, a tip would be to just try it; people won’t expect perfection from day one and you’ll learn so much about what works for you and your club.” 

Encourage creativity

Leeds Libraries created a multilevel game at their online Code Club session. We asked what their top three tips would be:

  1. Make content available in a range of formats and on different platforms to allow as much accessibility to participants as possible.
  2. Create projects with flexible goals in mind to allow for different skill sets and interpretations. 
  3. Encourage creativity! If a coder wants to try something different to what you had in mind, let them run with it. You’ll be amazed at what they come up with.
Lee has attended Leeds Libraries online sessions

Slow your sessions down 

Nicola from Code Club Australia has given some advice on how the pace of your Code Club may change:

“Talk and progress through the lesson much slower than you would face to face, and explain every detail (otherwise you’ll have to repeat it, many times).”  

Nicola from Code Club Australia

Adjust your Code Club start time

Adam runs Fleetville Code Club and has been running online Code Club sessions, using Scratch and Minecraft. Adam shared his advice to help your online sessions run more smoothly: 

  1. Assume your first session is going to be all about getting people set up on their computers. The students might use Scratch at school, but getting it running at home at the same time as a Zoom call takes a little getting used to. 
  2. An after-school online club session will need to start a bit later than an in-school club since the children need to get home ( now many schools have staggered leaving times). 
  3. Students are just as thrilled by receiving online certificates as they are by the paper equivalents – use the Code Club ones or prepare some of your own.

If you are running online sessions and want to share your tips with the rest of the community, write to us at support@codeclub.org and we’ll make sure to pass them on.

Let’s get back to Code Club safely

Move over August, September has arrived and Code Club has a range of exciting new options to help you restart your Code Club safety.

Guiding you through options

We’ve developed a framework to guide you through which option will suit your club’s current situation. The options are flexible, to allow you to pick and combine elements that will work for your club and venue. 

Members from the Code Club community have kindly shared their learnings and experiences on the options, and provided top tips for getting back to coding this September. 

In-person sessions

When you are ready to restart your club, in-person sessions will run as normal, following guidelines from your local health authority and safeguarding for your venue. Hear how Richard Hayler from Cranmere Code Club in the UK is preparing his club for in-person sessions: 

“We’re really looking forward to when we can resume our in-person sessions and are working with our school on the safest way to do this.”

Online sessions

During August, Rohima and Christina from the Code Club team had fun running online sessions for the Raspberry Pi Foundation. An online session is run by an educator or volunteer; it takes place at a regular chosen time and runs using video conferencing or live-streaming tools.

If your club is considering running online sessions, take a look at the advice from Rohima and Christina: 

  • “Be prepared in your setting — check the sound on your laptop is working, plug in your charger, and have the club window open so you can start promptly.” (Rohima) 
  • “Don’t worry if you only have a couple of children turn up, embrace it. They are there because they want to be, make it a fun place to be, you may just inspire a future coder!” (Rohima)
  • “I learned how different it was to do group coding online vs in person. In some cases, your role is to just check in with kids every 10–15 minutes and facilitate the sharing. Sometimes, it’ll be quiet, so talk to your group about having music!” (Christina) 
  • “Remember to be patient with yourself, participants, and parents, especially with the first session. You’re going to learn so much during the first session that will make your second, third, and fourth session run super smoothly!” (Christina)  

Remote activities

We checked in with D&G libraries in Scotland who are regularly sending out remote activities from the Digital Making at Home programme to parents via their Facebook page. They’re then on hand to answer questions and offer support when needed. 

Here’s what a parent said about the activities:   

“My son really enjoyed the coding club over the summer, he had done a little before and picked up how to do it very quickly. It was fun and interactive and he has been back time and time again trying new things.”

Keeping your club flexible 

The pandemic is keeping us on our toes, and we know that clubs may not always be able to run consistently in-person, online, or remote activities. Leeds Libraries used a pick-and-mix approach to running their Code Club, read about how they got on.

We encourage you to feel confident to pick and combine the options according to what best suits you and your venue.

Take a look at our ways to run a Code Club page for everything you will need to get your club back up and running this September, including new resources, the framework, and updated safeguarding guidance.