Capital Digital, youngsters teach children to code

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Youngsters from disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Brussels, Belgium, spend their holidays teaching children how to code, as part of this project which is coordinated by Maks vzw.

Maks vzw trains youngsters between 15 and 18 years old to become code-facilitators. The youngsters receive in total 120 hours of training in coding, including basic coding, developing applications, gameplay and robotics. After the training has finished, they use the same modules together with children to teach them how to code.

Maks give youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to get first-hand experience that is useful for their future professional careers, but first they must attend the training programme. During this training, the focus is on the development of pedagogical skills, problem solving, soft skills and creativity. All those 21st century skills are in high demand on the labour market. Knowing that the Brussels Capital Region has problems filling vacancies in the ICT sector, the project tries to convince not only youngsters but also teachers that by acquiring those skills, they will be prepared for future careers in the sector. Every school holiday, about 200 disadvantaged children follow the project’s workshops in Molenbeek, Kuregem and Schaarbeek. At the end of each module, parents are invited to see what their children have learned. So parents learn also about the possibilities that coding can bring about.

Basic information

Country: Belgium

Coordinator: Maks vzw, Belgium, https://maksvzw.org/

Programme: National

Project Acronym:

Target groups: primary school students, secondary school students, teachers, vocational school students, youth clubs

Topic: Computer science, Gender in STEM, Education

Start year: 2015

Url: http://www.capitaldigital.be

Contact person: Veronique de Leener, Email maksvzw (at) maksvzw.be

Capital Digital focuses its evaluation on three main stakeholder groups: the participating children, the young e-facilitators themselves and the parents of the participating children.

Capital Digital measures the impact with a simple multiple-choice survey, where the respondents can also provide more information, following each coding camp for children.

In case of children, Capital Digital collects the following data:

  1. Capital Digital seeks to learn whether children have any previous knowledge of programming and, if yes, where they learned the first steps. It is important to offer opportunities to some children who have little or no access to these types of activities. Capital Digital believes that an increased exposure to subjects in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) is essential to foster interest in furthering STEAM careers. So far, the data indicates that about one in 10 participants have never had the opportunity to code before and a large majority have had very little experience.
  2. Capital Digital wants to know if children find coding an enjoyable experience, because it is essential to make the first steps as motivating as possible. It is also important to make sure that children who already have some background in STEAM find new and engaging ways to approach Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and coding in particular. So far, 90 per cent of respondents have indicated they enjoyed the experience.
  3. Capital Digital wants to know if children think they learned new and useful things. It is important to find out if the programme is complementary with the work of other STEAM education, such as schools and other organisations. 70 per cent of the participants indicate they learned something new and useful.
  4. Capital Digital wants to know if children are motivated to learn more about coding, since the project’s main objective is to make sure that children become enthusiastic about STEAM subjects and take on part of their education in an (assisted) autodidactic way. 70 per cent of the participants indicate they want to learn more. 40 per cent indicate they want to try and learn autonomously at home.

For the young e-facilitators, Capital Digital looks into:

  1. Whether and, if yes, where they learned to code prior to their participation in Capital Digital. This provides an insight into whether the initiative is complementary to the work of other organisations and schools. 60 per cent of the young facilitators had never learned to code before they joined Capital Digital. If this is compared with the participating children, there is a real difference, proving how essential this initiative is.
  2. Whether they found the whole programme to be an interesting experience, so that the activities can be as motivating as possible. 85 per cent say they enjoy the project.
  3. Whether they think they learned useful skills related to IT, to make sure the programme is complementary to other education activities. 70 per cent reply positively.
  4. Whether they think they learn useful pedagogical topics, to make sure the programme boosts their self-confidence and soft skills related to working with people and peer education. 70 per cent reply positively.
  5. Whether they think Capital Digital is a useful work experience, to evaluate if the programme boosts their soft skills and self-confidence in order to provide better access to the labour market. 100 per cent of the respondents say they find Capital Digital a useful work experience and likewise 100 per cent indicate they will add it to their CV.
  6. Whether they want to learn more, in order to motivate them and boost their self-confidence for lifelong learning. 85 per cent indicate they want to start programming by themselves at home.
  7. Whether the experience changes their attitude towards STEM education. 60 per cent indicate their attitudes have changed, saying Capital Digital demystified it for them.
  8. Whether it changes their career outlook. 60 per cent say it did make them change their minds, with 30 per cent indicating they consider IT a career option and 30 per cent scientific career paths.

For its third stakeholder group, Capital Digital evaluates:

  1. Whether parents consider themselves to be digitally literate, as it is important to know to what extent children can receive support from their parents.
  2. Whether they perceive their children to be enthusiastic about the project and whether they think their children learned important things. Capital Digital believes it is important to persuade parents to continue motivating their children to participate in similar projects.
  3. Whether parents themselves are motivated to learn more about IT, as it can be a catalyst for their children’s learning.
  4. Whether parents are willing to explicitly motivate their children to learn more about coding.
  5. Whether parents are willing to motivate their children to go into a STEAM career.
  6. Whether the project changes the attitude of parents towards STEAM education.

The following outputs are made by Capital Digital, relevant for teachers:

  • Coding toolkit for trainers and youngsters (four modules).
  • Training toolkit for the children.

 

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