Last weekend, the third annual CoderDojo conference, DojoCon, took place on the IT Sligo campus, bringing together mentors, parents, educators and technologists to discuss this coding education movement.
The conference began with quickfire Ignite talks on Friday, 3 October, followed by an opportunity to mingle with the CoderDojo founders, members of the CoderDojo Foundation team, CoderDojo champions and the conference speakers.
On Saturday, the Knocknarea Arena in Sligo became a hub of activity with a packed schedule of speakers in three streams – education, technology and community – as well as headline talks from Debbie Forster, the UK managing director of Apps for Good; Dave Shepherd, head of Frontline Help at Barclays UK Retail Bank; Mary Moloney, CEO of the CoderDojo Foundation; and Bill Liao, co-founder of CoderDojo.
There are currently more than 480 dojos operating in more than 48 countries, and the aim of DojoCon 2014 was to attract dojo volunteers from around the world, with a special presentation given by CoderDojo Belgium.
CoderDojo Girls panel discussion at DojoCon 2014, featuring Catherine Cronin, Vanessa Greene, Catrina Carrigan, Sarah Doran, Roisin Markham and Mary Loftus
The theme for this year’s conference was ‘Look to the stars: enthuse, create, collaborate’ and focused on getting people on the ground to learn and share what works and to encourage new, fledgling dojos with their stories.
In the spirit of an organisation with clever young people at its heart, young Sligo natives Laura Gaynor and her brother, ‘The Chroma Kid’, captured video footage of the event, including an Oculus Rift demo and an interview with Liao.
The Sligo natives asked the CoderDojo co-founder if he has any big plans for the future, to which he responded, “We want to reach 100,000 kids. Right now we’re at about 25,000 kids and if we can reach 100,000 kids that’s going to make a huge difference, and then we want to grow from there so that’s a pretty big challenge.”
Liao made a point of commending the CoderDojo mentors for their crucial contributions to the organisation during his address on Saturday.
“You are amazing,” he said of their generosity and commitment.
CoderDojos around the world rely on volunteers to keep them going, from parents, educators and experienced coders giving up their time to tech companies and educational institutions offering up their facilities.
At the event, Shepherd announced Barclays was ready to open up its doors to CoderDojo sessions and with other tech companies, such as IBM, Microsoft, AutoDesk and Mission V represented at the event, their support could well lead to Liao’s goal of reaching more and more children.