Coding conference an opportunity for Northern education
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
The Code to Learn program held regional coding training sessions for educators on March 3 and 4. Sioux Lookout was one of the regions among Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Iqaluit. It was an opportunity for Sioux Lookout, and surrounding communities, to be a part of those big cities.
“It’s huge for Sioux Lookout. The initiative around the code to learn project is that we get those skills to teachers in the North so they can teach the skills to students in the North. It’s trying to reach out to First Nations students in those communities,” explained KOBE (Keewaytinook Okimakanak Board of Education) technology lead Katie Burch.
There’s been a trend for learning coding because apps, websites, browsers and computer software are all made with code. Simply put, you tell the computer what to do through coding, and it can provide a lot of opportunities for youth down the road.
“It impacts job opportunities. If these kids learn how to code, they could work from their home communities and take jobs for places in Toronto, Vancouver, or Montreal,” Burch explained.
Sioux Lookout and other northern communities took advantage of this opportunity. The region boasted the best session participation among the cities involved.
“The Sioux Lookout session was the biggest session out of all of those cities…We had 43 participants, and everybody else had 20. We had representatives from Marathon, Fort Frances, Sioux Lookout, and 21 other surrounding communities,” Burch mentioned.
For participants, the project goes further than just the training sessions. The program set up a networking platform for the teachers to help each other with applying coding in classrooms throughout the year. Establishing this network could be the start of more interaction among educators in the northern communities.
“The project is running for a full year beyond this where teachers can check in with each other. In our local area we set up a Google Hangouts chat where, if teachers have questions, they can just post a question and any of the 43 participants can potentially answer and support each other,” said Burch. “It wasn’t just about teaching teachers to code. It was about teaching teachers the importance of professional learning networks, and now we’ve established at least one in the North.”