My name is Dr Martin Goodfellow and I’m from Glasgow, Scotland. I currently work as the Coder in Residence at Glasgow Life. My role here is to create a sustainable framework of coding clubs for young people in Glasgow Libraries.
The thing that attracted me to computing was the logical thinking and problem solving. From a young age I enjoyed solving logic puzzles and coding was a natural progression from there. I studied Higher and Advanced Higher Computing at school and then went on to study Software Engineering at Glasgow University before studying for a PhD in Computing at Strathclyde University.
My background is in computer science research, specifically in the area of databases. My research ranged from query efficiency to working on veterinary apps for farmers in Africa. Throughout my PhD I was a demonstrator for tutorials and labs for various computer science subjects and discovered how much I enjoyed teaching. During this time I also noticed a decline in the number of students studying computer science at university and the growing skills gap within the industry.
In July 2012, Craig Steele from CoderDojo Scotland approached me about starting a CoderDojo in Glasgow. CoderDojo is a global movement of free, volunteer-led, community based programming clubs for young people, aged 7-17.
One of the goals of these clubs is to get more young people interested in computing and technology. Due to the success of this dojo, after completing my PhD, I joined him at Glasgow Science Centre to develop these clubs throughout Scotland. CoderDojo is now in 9 different locations all across Scotland and is in 10 different venues across Glasgow.
In 2013, Glasgow won £24m worth of funding from the Technology Strategy Board (now known as Innovate UK) to improve the quality of life in Glasgow through technology. My involvement in this was the Future Makers project in which we gave 5-17 year olds the chance to learn digital making skills. These opportunities consisted of drop-in sessions, workshops and summer camps. The materials for the project can be found at http://open.glasgow.gov.uk/futuremakers/.
For National Coding Week I will be running intergenerational sessions and coding taster sessions for young people. The intergenerational sessions will take place in our established clubs and will take the format of teach your parent/grandparent/guardian to code. Our taster sessions will be for 8-17 year olds and will be to get more young people interested in coding.
1. Try out an online course such as those at Khan Academy or Codecademy.
2. If you’re a young person attend your local CoderDojo. If you’re an adult then volunteer at your local CoderDojo. You don’t have to be a programming expert to volunteer, you just have to be enthusiastic and willing to learn alongside the young people. Our dojos are collaborative learning environments where everyone is a learner. Our volunteers are from a big mix of areas so you’re always learning from the volunteers and young people alike.
3. Pick a computing project that interests you. It could be something that would simplify your everyday life or just something that is a bit of fun. Keep it simple to get started. There’s an abundance of free support and materials available online. If you’re interested in physical computing then buy a Raspberry Pi, Arduino or BBC micro:bit and start experimenting. Raspberry Pi’s magazine The MagPi has great project guides each month.