Getting kids into coding during the pandemic
- Posted on February 10, 2021
- Estimated reading time 2 minutes
As difficult as the COVID-19 pandemic has been for adults, it’s hard to imagine how hard the adjustments of the past year have been on kids. Isolated from their friends, learning online, and lacking the structure of their established schedules, children have had to adapt to a whole new world too. In the summer of 2020, my colleague asked if Learning & Development could help create a program for our children during the pandemic. How could we keep them busy but also introduce them to new, useful skills? The Avanade Kids Coding program was born. It was a seven-week program meant for children aged 5-14 of Avanade employees, piloted in June and July 2020. I first heard of this ask from Southwest (now South) HR in Houston. I was immediately enamored as I am a teacher and educator by heart.
I didn’t know what to expect, hoping only that the kids involved could have fun and learn a little bit about coding. The accounts and the materials all came from Code.org which is a non-profit with content specifically for children, grades K-8. The way it was set up was also very easy to understand: the first session was a general kick-off, following by five weeks of twice weekly sessions, and then a final celebration.
There were three coaches to support me as instructor, but we also had every parent in our calls as a first line of help in case of technical or content issues. But ultimately most, if not all, children were very capable of doing the exercises themselves and at the same time being great at using Microsoft Teams.
Overall, the kids seemed to be very engaged during interactive sessions and focused on their exercises when it was time to work. The program was set up loosely, meaning there was no grading or checking that someone should finish something with a good enough score, because it was meant to be fun. In the final session, we celebrated and gave everyone a certificate of completion. I had the parents print those certificates out beforehand so they could be handed to the kids during our celebration, and everyone got a kick out of that.
I also want to call out my colleagues who supported the program: Lucy Moodley for setting it up initially; Ralph Compton, Stanley Tu and Chris Brooker for coaching; Jesse Palma for designing the certificate, and the South region for the opportunity.
I loved that this experience aligned with Avanade’s core values of believing everyone counts, as well as our purpose to make a genuine human impact. What better way to start than with the next generation?