Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Giving the next generation more options.

Programming far becoming an important skill to have. It gives options, options to use your creativity and innovation to solve problems. While more schools are focusing on basic programming training, what happens to the homeless children or refugee kids?

Relief 2.0 is testing a pilot now as we believe that with a low cost tablet -- Amazon Fire Tablet -- we can load the 16GB tablet that costs under US$60 with many free programs which can teach the simple concept of programming.

With several carefully curated programs, Relief 2.0 have started to allow the kids to learn coding, by coding their own games.

We learned a lot during the experience. Some kids are just to have fun with the tablet, while others are serious to learn to make their own game. As the training progressed, and when some kids have a partially working game, the others want to learn too.

The peer learning part is especially tricky. There is a strong bias towards doing it for the other kids as they do not know how to explain it properly, and the other kids may be asking too many probing questions, but when we watch and monitor the peer learning and make sure they do not do the code for the other kids, we start to see success.

There are some kids who are more advanced, and some less advanced, and getting the kids who know more to teach the other kids make them grasp the concepts better.

Within the next few days, the kids have created their own games and are starting to add features which they see in other games. There needs to be a good balance of learning and fun, where their short attention span can still focus on putting the features they want into their game.

Well, this is a test, and we do have already >10 tablets which we use for training adult refugees as well. Once we have this model formalized, we plan to scale up and get more kids involved in the program across Europe. Of course at that point, we will be planning to raise some funds on scaling up and partnering other organizations to cover some bits which they are not doing.

-- Robin Low

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