Sunday 24 June 2012

Introducing Code Club – Linda Sandvik

Code Club is an after school club started by two highly-motivated young ladies, Clare Sutcliffe and Linda Sandvik. Their aim is to teach every child to code. Linda brought forward the strong point that every child can and should learn to code, even if they didn’t want to become a programmer, computer scientist or games designer. People learn how to cook eventhough they don’t want to become professional chefs. People learn Maths, English and Science until the age of 16, even though they may not wish to pursue careers in any of these fields.

Two key selling points for coding are that 1) It teaches you about problem solving and 2) It’s fun.

Yes, it’s fun and the two founders know how to have fun. Look at this video that they created:


They don’t (need to) worry about assessment. And this is a key thing about code club. Linda is originally from Norway but was educated in England. In fact I studied in the same Department of Computer Science as her at Warwick University. We graduated one cohort apart. And whilst Warwick is an excellent university, Warwick suffers from the same “testing-based” curriculum that all UK universities suffer from. Linda went as far to claim that when she studied Digital Media at Hyper Island in Sweden, she learnt far more from her one and a half years there than her three years at Warwick, partly because of the non test-based structure of the course. She learnt to fail, and to fail often. I agree this is a major area of the UK curriculum which needs an overhaul.  This needs to start from Primary education however, not just at University.

In less than a year, Code Club has secured 1436 volunteers and
120 schools have registered their interest. That’s pretty incredible growth; Pintrest, Twitter and Instagram better watch out!

They mainly teach through Scratch, a free piece of software with a GUI that teaches users the importance of Syntax and the fundamental building blocks of coding. One thing I didn’t know is that you can hit <Share> on a Scratch game and that gives you a URL to share with your family and friends. That’s awesome!

After user-testing her projects on kids, Linda went further than most people in hacking Lego Mindstorms to accept her Scratch instructions through an Arduino!  James Stuttard also later mentioned the Panther extension which gives even more advanced features.

Whilst Code Club is not short on friends as the above video demonstrates, they have also worked with Lego, Nesta, Mozilla, Coding for kids and Cas. However, they still need donations to help establish themselves as a charity.

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