Show Me The Way Blog

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Black girls to gain computer coding skills

Story courtesy the Koori Mail

Hoping to give Indigenous girls the opportunity to learn important computer skills, Keith Wilson is aiming to start a ‘Black Girls Code’ program. The plan draws its inspiration from a project of the same name in the United States, where about 6000 girls have been trained in coding since 2011.
Mr Wilson, from Bundaberg in south-east Queensland, said he has been running coding classes with primary school students and would like to expand to the Indigenous knowledge centre in Cherbourg.

“I’ve been working with the students here in Bundaberg, and the school has applied for some funding,” he told the Koori Mail.

“That would help them formalise the coding classes and allow the teachers to plan the lessons a bit more.

“I got a bunch of laptops about a year ago and I want to take them to the knowledge centre in Cherbourg now that it’s all ready because it might be an opportunity for some of the girls who are disengaged in school to learn something really useful.

“They’re doing some really good stuff with it in the US, and our politicians are always talking about innovation, so why aren’t we doing something like this?”
Mr Wilson’s classes use free software to create and redesign websites for local community groups. One class made a flood safety video for the local council. Mr Wilson said the aim of the program is to have locally sustainable enterprises that provide ongoing website support services. He wants to expand the program to Indigenous communities around the country.

“A lot of people get funding and blow in to these communities, then, when the money runs out, they blow back out again,” Mr Wilson said.

“I don’t want to do that. I think we’re on to something here. All I need is a place to start.”
Mr Wilson also hopes to expand the program to Western Australia’s Kimberley region.

“I’m hoping that once the girls start learning those skills, they can take on the challenge of teaching the younger ones,” he said.

So far, Mr Wilson said the children are taking to the coding lessons and love seeing what they’ve produced.

“It could be a really good teaching tool if teachers can focus it towards a novel they’re reading or a sum they’re learning,” he said.
“It’d be great to embed it into the classroom every day.”

The Koori Mail is a media partner of Show Me The Way

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