“Kids are spending a lot of time online”

At the “Kids Can Code” launch party on July 28th, 2015, parents in the community said that their kids were spending hours each day playing games online during the summer holidays.

These engaged parents forced me to re-think my vision, mission and program goals in a deeper and more practical way.

Initially, the inspiration for Kids Can Code was based on US-based workforce diversity reports. In 2014 Silicon Valley ‘Unicorns’ – including google, facebook, Hewlett-packard, LinkedIn, Apple – voluntarily disclosed the gender and ethnic make-up of their workforce.

These reports indicate that less than 2% of their approximate 100,000+ respective workforces are Hispanic or Black.

Obvious questions raised by these reports included: Why do the numbers look this way? What are some approaches to addressing the diversity challenge in the tech industry? Who do we include in the conversation? How do we support tech businesses to make their workforces more representative of the communities they serve?

Hearing from these engaged parents, however, transformed a more esoteric vision to more practical goals of constructive play.

Through dialogue with parents (stakeholders) Kids Can Code started to take on a new life and new force:

“How can we change some of the behaviours of young people spending hours online each day playing games?”

“How can we build a broad coalition of parents, teachers and community partners to inspire our kids to leverage technology as a building tool, to document experiences, express an opinion, make a video, create change, build and maintain an app or website, build teams?”

constructive play

Jeff Sweeton (far left) of Code Create responded with some suggested maker tools including:

  • Williamkamkwamba.typepad.com
  • Cainesarcade.com
  • Scratch.mit.edu (core curriculum on Intel Computer Clubhouse)
  • Youthvoices.adobe.com
  • Creativityatwork.com
  • Webmaker.org
  • Code.org
  • Codeacademy.org
  • Papert.org
These beginner maker tools are designed to engage kids at all levels. Kids can access these resources on their own, or with parents, teachers, or start a community hub.

-Erica

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