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Why you should think about launching a Code Club

Everything you need to know about starting and running a Code Club in your community.

Hannah Balllard
December 10, 2019

Code Club is a global movement of community-run coding clubs where kids learn about programming through creative computing projects - but what is the experience like for the volunteers who host the clubs?

As Code Club Canada delivery partners, we asked librarians from Bibliothèque de Saint-Michel and Bibliothèque Germaine-Guèvremont about the experience of launching and running a Code Club and any lessons they’ve learned along the way.

Bibliothèque de Saint-Michel launched their first club two years ago, which has since become a more advanced club. Some of the same kids are still attending to this day. Due to demand, they’ve recently launched a second group for beginners: "The Code Club generates a lot of enthusiasm. I think many parents want their children to learn programming outside of school."

The librarian at Laval's Bibliothèque Germaine-Guèvremont recently launched their Code Club. They were first interested in starting a club to see how children would react to this opportunity. "[Children] can be a difficult group to have in the library… but I appreciate how important it is that they learn this new language that is crucial for their future: programming."

So what are the benefits of running a Code Club?

Everyone learns - not just the kids

At the core of Code Club is the coding projects. From block-based languages like Scratch to programming with hardware like the micro:bit, Code Club has dozens of free projects for kids (and adults!) to learn, create and collaborate on.

For the librarian at Germaine-Guèvremont, learning about code before bringing in the kids was part of the experience. "I had colleagues at the desk who asked me, what is coding? I’m sure if I show them a little bit, they would appreciate it." And sure enough, they found that "this project opened me up to new skills and above all, I can see how we can offer more! This project let me exceed at work, and I left my comfort zone."

The librarian at Saint-Michel has also found cooperative learning has opened up new opportunities. "The more experienced kids help the beginners, and we look for solutions to problems together." Collaborative learning has also given the children an important life lesson: "[they] were very surprised to see that the librarian could be wrong when making hypotheses!"

It creates intergenerational bonds within a community

Many Code Clubs take place in libraries, which make up an important hub at the centre of communities all around the world. Code Clubs provide an opportunity for community members of different ages to work together to solve coding problems.

"I have to say that I was surprised to see how much the kids appreciated that I opened the library just for them!" reflected our librarian at Germaine-Guèvremont.

Bringing older students into the library as volunteers has been a win-win situation for Saint-Michel. The young adults offer useful mentorship to the children, while also gaining valuable experience. "Some have volunteer hours to complete as part of their studies, and this is a good opportunity to develop their skills."

Spending more time with their smallest stakeholders encouraged the librarian at Germaine-Guèvremont to empathize more with their younger members: "[sometimes, kids will] open another window to play a popular game, and it’s a challenge to bring them back to coding... I realized they do it when they have mastered a concept. But that takes a level of discipline that I hadn’t considered."

Code Clubs are the foundations of digital skills communities

When running a Code Club, you really get out what you put in. It was a challenge for the librarian at Germaine-Guèvremont to start the club. "I had to learn as I went, and explore myself." That said, they reflected that it was worth it in the end, as "I have become a 'geek!' I have discovered a new skill that I like exploring."

The experience of hosting a Code Club has helped this librarian empathize with local kids more: "being part of a gang of 8 - 12 year old kids helped me to see their reality, which is a good way to re-think library services."

Our Saint-Michel librarian thinks that hosting workshops like these, outside of schools, inspires kids. "The context is more playful, and although attendance is encouraged, it is free… Many kids already have an interest in computers and programming. This interest acts as a lever to learn new skills, but particularly for a new way of learning."

Inspired to join a global community of coders? Starting a code club is easy: we provide the projects and ongoing support, all you need to give is your time and an enthusiasm to learn! You can volunteer to run a Code Club here, or register to host one at your library or community centre here. Parents, you can sign your kids up for an existing Code Club here.

We’d like to give a warm thank you to Ubisoft and the Ministry of Economy and Innovation in Quebec whose funding and continuous support is helping us launch more free Code Clubs throughout Quebec communities than ever before.

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