Melbourne startup Code the Future has launched its ambitious plan to get 10,000 Australian school students coding by the end of the year, a plan which coincides with the recent endorsement of the new Digital Technologies subject that is to be introduced into the Australian Curriculum this year.
Code the Future, cofounded by Bec Spink and Will Egan, is a community of volunteer developers and educators who provide opportunities for every Australian student, no matter their age or location, to learn how to code. The edutech startup was born out of a Melbourne Startup Weekend in 2014 and has since connected with schools and developers to equip students with necessary skills in coding.
“The problem is more students need to learn how to code in schools; we realised nothing had changed since high school and we wanted to do something about that,” said Spink.
The startup operates through a web-based platform that is similar to the design of Airbnb, connecting developers with teachers, endorsing a collaboration between both the two, taking coding in schools to the next level.
In the initial evaluation Spink and her team found that developers believe it’s important to start early when it comes to teaching coding and that it’s crucial that all kids of the next generation know how to. The key problem is that, on both sides developers and teachers find it hard to get involved and are unaware of how to connect, but both believe it’s important to start.
“The idea was to break down the barriers in order for these two sets of industry to meet and create opportunities for the students in schools,” said Spink.
Teachers post a project they want to start implementing in their school on the Code the Future website. Volunteer developers check project updates, where they can view the school’s area, connecting them with students all over the country.
“We connect core stakeholders, getting developers into schools collaborating and working side by side with educators and their students,” explained Spink.
Through partnerships with stakeholders, developers and schools Code the Future are able to provide students at any level of competency with authentic and real world opportunities in technology and coding.
Currently the platform has over 800 developers on board, and so far 2,000 educators have signed up. The service is free to access for both developers and teachers, with all projects being transparent and labeled with tabs including: primary, in class, and extracurricular. Current projects include teaching kids about apps, coding with the use of Minecraft skills, and introducing various school clubs such as the Tech Girls Club.
The transparency helps other teachers to see what kind of projects are uploaded and the possibilities of what can be taught in their school. Spink and her team hope grow their team of developers, making the platform more accessible to schools in rural areas and students who don’t have access to computers at home.
Another coding initiative that teaches Aussie kids is the global organisation Code Club, which merged with the Raspberry Pi Foundation last year. The UK-based organisation is a worldwide network of volunteer-led coding clubs for children aged 9-11, with Australia having the biggest branch of clubs outside the UK. There are now almost 9000 kids coding weekly in schools, libraries, and community centres around Australia, with Code the Future hoping to expand upon this and open opportunities for every age group and education level.
Previously Code the Future received a small sponsorship to build their website and are currently seeking further funding to forge crucial links between the technology and education industry.
Image: Code the Future Team. Source: Supplied