There are times when you just have to go social. Following CodeClub on Twitter showed that the schools that were signing up weren’t always in the same place as the volunteers who were signing up. That was certainly our experience here in Mellor – where Stockport becomes the Pennines. I assumed there just weren’t any coders out there interested in sharing their skills – for free – with a bunch of primary school kids. But I decided to spend a little time using social media and online communities just to see if anyone was interested.
So I sent out a Tweet.
Anyone interested in setting up @CodeClub at primary school nr #Marple Stockport? Lots of interest here.
@LizHannaford Hi Liz, which school near Marple? I might be able to find a willing developer.
By coincidence, Glyn lives down the road and works with one of the Code Club founders! Amazing the connections you can make on Twitter. He confirms no volunteers have signed up in Stockport but says he can help spread the word on developer forums. A good contact to have!
I decide to shout a little louder…
Agh, no luck finding any @CodeClub volunteers for our school nr #Marple Stockport. Parents will have to go it alone!
I contacted @mcrdig and they turned out to be really helpful. They’re a trade association for the digital sector here in the North West. They let me put a paragraph into their next Newsletter and tweeted. That got lots of Retweets and a few emails expressing lots of interest in the CodeClub project if not specifically volunteering for ours!
Finally, I decided to start a thread on our local Marple Online Forum. I didn’t expect much of a response.
Are there any people out there with computer programming skills they’d like to share with school children? A group of parents at a local primary school is setting up an after school Code Club. It’s part of a nationwide project to get a network of computer clubs across the country. Check out the website http://codeclub.org.uk/ The government is changing what children learn about computers at school so that there’s more of an emphasis on programming rather than just learning about office software. We want to be at the forefront of that national push! So if you have the skills and share our passion for this project, please check out the Code Club website, see if it’s for you and get in touch. Thank You.
There was an immediate and positive response! It seems we’ve flushed out an army of closet coders with a social conscience. One guy PM’d me, sounds really keen to volunteer and has the perfect skill set to help us out and an employer willing to support extra-curricula social projects.
Lots of people on the forum stopped arguing about the pros and cons of having a new supermarket in town and started to show off their knowledge of arcane computer languages instead. They got told they were “off topic” and got moved to another “Programming Show-Offs” thread.
But the really exciting thing is that we seem to have started something big here in SK6. As a direct result of that thread on the forum, another local school has signed up to CodeClub and parents at another school are meeting the head teacher next week to persuade him to sign up too. This is fantastic. If everything works out, it means the local volunteers can get together to support each other, share ideas, perhaps set up hack days at the weekend when all the schools can come together.
And perhaps the Goyt Valley will become the next Silicon Valley…
The Big Lesson I learnt from this process is that not everyone out there knows about CodeClub yet so we need to keep on talking about it EVERYWHERE. There are plenty of 40-somethings out there who developed a love for computers in the 80s with the BBC Micro etc and are really excited about the opportunity to tap into that enthusiasm again and rekindle that passion.
So if you’re a frustrated volunteer who can’t find a local school. Or if you’re a parent who can’t find a local volunteer. Don’t give up just yet. There are people out there.