The Net Media Lab’s project CODING AND YOUTH: AN INNOVATIVE PROGRAMME IN THE DIGITAL ERA (for introduction to Edison Robots Programming) has been selected recently as a GOOD PRACTICE EXAMPLE. In the project were participating the following partners:
Cyprus Computer Society – Cyprus
Net Media Lab -IIT -N.C.S.R. “Demokritos” – Greece
Associazione Futuro Digitale – Italy C.G.E.
Erfurt e.V. – Deutschland Emphasys Centre – Cyprus
The importance of digital skills for both social inclusion and employability has been made a high priority by the EC, hence several initiatives such as the EU Digital Agenda, the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs, the e-skills for Jobs campaign, the EU Code Week were promoted,in an attempt to stop the fact that the “ICT skill gap” which, “is growing to unacceptable level”, as reinforced in the “e-skills Manifesto” by Vice President Ansip. As youth unemployment is a major issue all other Europe, mastering these skills is becoming critical to fill the huge gap created by the digital revolution. However, as there is an every growing need for ICT experts in the EU, evidence suggests that less students are choosing this field than before. Up to now, ICT lessons were focusing purely on computer literacy – teaching students, how to word-process, how to work a spreadsheet and how to surf the Internet. These skills were considered enough, as to be an ICT expert. However, there is nowadays an ever growing need to teach the next generation computer science, ICT and digital literacy, thus going beyond the skills of how to use a computer, to teach young people how to code, how to create a program, but how a computer works and how to make it work for them! The project aims to open up new routes into not only teaching coding and programming to young teenagers (13-17 years old), but also to open up their career options in order to initially have a first hand experience of the various field of computing and then choose to study in a related topic. Summer time when students have long time, has been seen as an opportunity to offer an innovative and interactive programme for teaching coding to teenagers, but also to explore the field of computing for a better career guidance that will bridge the skills – gap between education and the labour market.In preparation of the proposal the consortium has done some preliminary research that identified the following:1. According to the 2015 Eurydice Report 11-13 weeks per year in CY, GR and IT are utilized in any way for the benefit of the students, while MS complain of the insufficient national results presented by PISA (2013). Evidence suggests that young people (14-18 yrs) are offered more opportunities to participate in recreation and camp programmes (i.e. sports), whereas programmes related to the acquisition of specific ‘academic’ competences are limited. 2. Over the last couple of years many scattered initiatives were taken in partner countries (CY,GR,IT,DE) to promote digital acquisition and coding through non-formal learning and in particular through volunteering youth work provided in NGOs, Youth Centres, Councils etc. Although in some case, ICT professionals were highly involved, these initiatives failed to expand. Based on the above the CODE@YOUTH project the project pioneers in proposing to develop, implement and evaluate a comprehensive challenging summer coding programme that will focus on introducing young people (13-17 yrs) to the world of CODING and COMPUTING, by using in a constructive way teenagers’ long summer vacations, in order to teach them in a creative way how to code and to present them, through first-hand experience (visits) the spectrum of fields they can follow to study and later on work in the digital area. It aims to introduce QUALITY STANDARDS (coding framework with benchmark and indicators), EVIDENCE-BASED DATA and MECHANISMS for the VALIDATION of the acquired coding competences for young people and youth workers (YW) through another innovative system the OPEN BADGES. This is an added value to the project as the coding skills will be made VISIBLE, TRANSPARENT and ACCESSIBLE through the young people’s and youth workers’ active involvement in the design of an eco-system. It develops a new on-line platform for e-learning, with in-built functions of interconnectivity, communication and provision of support through the e-Academy, where experts and stakeholder can register to offer guidance and support, an e-DATABANK with useful e-tools, reports, good practices etc. for review and the e-COMMUNITY where young people and YW can share their experiences and learn from each other through the ‘digital profile’ to be created.Based on the above the direct target group is young people 13-17 years old who will learn how to code, whereas the indirect target group is youth workers/trainers/volunteers. Transnational implementation of the project will help partner countries towards organising several scattered initiatives between them and utilize EU recommendations related to the digital agenda for EU and mechanisms for validating non-formal learning, while promoting various Erasmus+ priorities.The consortium is built up by organisations with expertise in the field of youth (NGO, youth centre) and the digital field, thus forming the essential skills and competences needed to implement an efficient, effective and of high quality project.