An Investigation into Tenacity Levels at CoderDojos1

An Investigation into Tenacity Levels at CoderDojos1

Nigel McKelvey (School of Education, Queen's University, Belfast, Ireland) and Pamela Cowan (School of Education, Queen's University, Belfast, Ireland)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/IJIDE.2017070103
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This paper provides an overview of CoderDojos and the philosophy that it aspires to. The research was conducted in one county in Ireland and focused on four CoderDojo locations that were geographically disperse. The findings used a scale known as Grit in order to gauge the tenacity levels of children attending these Dojos. Comparisons were drawn between genders. It also provides a rationale for future research with the addition of qualitative methods.
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There have been many policy reports in the past decade or more (NRC, 1999; ITEEA, 2000; NAENRC, 2002) which have highlighted a growing concern about the lack of knowledge surrounding technology among communities. In an attempt to address the concerns raised, the reports called for initiatives to be established that might impart these skills to more people. The National Research Council (NRC) report defined “fluency” about technology as “the ability to reformulate knowledge, to express oneself creatively and appropriately, and to produce and generate information (rather than simply to comprehend it).” The report went further to suggest that fluency “goes beyond traditional notions of computer literacy...[It] requires a deeper, more essential understanding and mastery of information technology for information processing, communication, and problem solving than does computer literacy as traditionally defined”. Improving “technological fluency” traditionally focused on the classroom, more specifically the classrooms in Higher Education (Resnick, 2002). However, the last decade has witnessed an increasing recognition that more informal settings and after-school environments could play an increased role in disseminating these skills and bring technology to the fore within communities without the constraints of formal education. The National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council report (NAENRC, 2002) outlined that, “The informal education system must become a major focus” for promoting fluency. The NSF Directorate for Education and Human Resources describes informal learning as “self-directed, voluntary, and motivated mainly by intrinsic interests, curiosity, exploration, and social interaction.” Therefore, initiatives such as the CoderDojo as an informal-learning setting is well suited in helping young people explore and experience with technology in a way that may lead to an increase in technological fluency.

A CoderDojo is a global network of free, volunteer-led, independent, community based computer programming clubs for young people. These young people (Ninjas), aged between 7 and 17 years, learn how to code, develop websites, build mobile applications or games and explore technology in an informal and creative environment. In addition to learning how to code, attendees meet like-minded people and gain skills in team work, collaboration, problem solving as well as confidence building.

One rule, be cool!

Ask 3 then me!

If you made it you can play it!

No idea is a bad idea and there is no such thing as failure! (ECHO, 2015).

The quotations serve to emphasize the philosophy within CoderDojos where games based learning features, independent learning is fostered and creativity is encouraged.


Origins Of Coderdojos

The CoderDojo is a global movement which was originally founded by James Whelton and Bill Liao (CoderDojo, 2015). Its genesis was in James Whelton’s school in early 2011 when James received notoriety as a result of hacking the iPod Nano. Due to its publicity, other younger students became interested in learning how to code. James then established a computer club in his school (PBC Cork) and began mentoring in some basic website development. As a result of the club's popularity he then met Bill Liao, an entrepreneur and philanthropist, who saw the positive potential in these coding clubs and sought to grow the project into something bigger. The movement is open source (free) with thousands of dedicated mentors forming CoderDojos all over the world, making the CoderDojo movement a global phenomenon. As of May 2015, there were in excess of 675 verified CoderDojos in 57 countries and growing every day (CoderDojo, 2015).

The global CoderDojo community is supported by the CoderDojo Foundation which consists of a core team based predominantly in Dublin, Ireland. The Foundation was established by one of the initial CoderDojo founders James Whelton and is focused on supporting new and existing CoderDojos through resource and community development. The group aims to create global awareness amongst young people about programming.

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