CoderDojo is a non-profit global movement founded by James Whelton and Bill Liao. It all started in James Whelton’s school in early 2011 when James (then 18 year-old coder) received some publicity after hacking the iPod Nano and as a result some younger students expressed an interest in learning how to code. He set up a computer club in his school (PBC Cork) where he started teaching students basic HTML and CSS. Later that year he met Bill Liao, an entrepreneur and philanthropist, who was interested in growing the project into something bigger.
In June 2011 the first CoderDojo was launched in the National Software Centre in Cork which saw extreme success. The Cork Dojo even saw people travelling from Dublin frequently to attend sessions. Owing to this popularity a Dublin Dojo was launched soon after. By making the movement open source it has since led to hundreds of dedicated Champions setting up more Dojos around Ireland and the CoderDojo movement has even grown to become a global phenomenon!
The CoderDojo Foundation
The CoderDojo Foundation was created in spring 2013 in order to support the fast growing CoderDojo community and has been working hard to achieve this ever since.
As of October 2014 there are now over 500 verified Dojos in 51 countries and there have also been many special CoderDojo sessions hosted in venues such as Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Italian Parliament, Dail Eireann and the EU Parliament!
Principles & ethos
CoderDojo participation is always free and open to all.
CoderDojo is 100% free for those who are attending and their parents.
From time to time Dojos may come across unavoidable expenses, for information on fundraising to cover these costs please see our Fundraising Guidelines and Suggestions.
CoderDojo does not discriminate based on gender, race, religion, culture or sexual orientation. For more information on this please see our Inclusion Policy.
One rule for kids: Be cool!
There is only one rule for young people attending a CoderDojo…Be Cool!
Bullying, disruptive behaviour, wasting people’s time etc. is considered to be uncool and not welcome in the Dojo environment.
At the Dojo everyone is responsible for themselves and each other.
CoderDojo is open source.
CoderDojo should be a place where everyone is free to share and contribute to building an awesome social space for everyone participating. CoderDojo not only encourages the use of open source software in it's Dojos but the CoderDojo model itself is open source and community driven, allowing the autonomous nature of each individual local Dojo to feed back into community and evolve it's growth.
CoderDojo encourages collaborative creativity through peer mentoring
Different people have different strengths and this is the benefit of working in groups or teams. At CoderDojo young people of different abilities are encouraged to work together on projects and to learn from and mentor each other. Easy ways of encouraging this are ensuring there are two - three young people working on the same computer or project at a given time.
Discovery learning through project work
Instead of focusing on a curriculum model CoderDojo encourages that’s once the young people have learned the basics using the multitude of available resources linked to on our community wiki Kata and through mentor support so that they can then focus their attention on creating projects that interest them and presenting their work to their Dojo. This method is much more conducive for successful, and enjoyable, learning that a strict curriculum path. CoderDojo’s focus on project work allows young people to motivate themselves towards finding the necessary solutions to their problems, just like actual programmers! You can see the consequences of this attitude at our annual CoderDojo competition, Coolest Projects.
Projects focused on coding as a tool for positive change
CoderDojo encourages young people to see Code as a force for good in the world and to develop projects with their new found skills that can have a positive impact. Dojo attendees often develop apps, websites and games around themes such as bullying, environmental activism, aiding underserved groups in their communities and educational games and resources.
Youth mentoring and youth participation in Dojo organisation
It is encouraged for youth mentors to be given responsibility in the Dojo as soon as is reasonable. A good way of enabling this is to let young people who have mastered the basics give back to their Dojo by mentoring the beginners table.
Attendees who show an aptitude for mentoring and helping out on a high level at the Dojo should be invited to be involved in planning discussions and operational reviews this will provide them with a unique opportunity not often granted to young people and the confidence to trust their voices.
Parents pitch in!
As CoderDojo founder Bill Liao often says, “CoderDojo is free, but it’s not a free ride!”
Parents/Guardians are usually asked to stay for the duration of the Dojo with the young people and while there they are encouraged to help out in anyway they can. If they don’t have any programming or technical skills parents are encouraged to help out doing other tasks such as taking on administrative roles such as managing the registration system, check in, social media or even local outreach.
It is encouraged that parents do not work with their own children if helping out, and keep their fingers off the keyboards! This is to enable the young people to have full creative freedom.
Encourage girls to get involved in coding!
It is estimated that out of the amount of people currently pursuing careers in computer programming the amount of women is on average 20%. It is a goal of Coderdojo to encourage more young women to engage with programming and have sufficient role models in order for them to be able foresee careers in this field.
For more information on how to encourage more girls to code please see our CoderDojo Girls Guidelines document.
Dojo roles and responsibilities
A CoderDojo Champion is an individual who volunteers to take charge of setting up, running and maintaining a Dojo.
Champions do not have to have the ability to computer program, but should possess the skills required to bring together technical [Mentors] and supporters and to arrange a Venue to run the Dojo.
You don't have to know how to code, just have to have passion for the mission and the drive to make things happen! Ideal Champions are great at running events, gathering and organising people with the relevant skills.
A mentor is a technically skilled individual who guides Dojo attendees and facilitates their learning and project work during the sessions. Mentors usually have a preferred area and expertise within which they like to work (eg. HTML, Python etc.) and this can influence the topics covered in the Dojo.
A volunteer is an individual who helps with administration and related services. Parents of regular attendees and non-technical individuals who want to help out often work in Dojos. It is also not uncommon for volunteers to learn the basics of Scratch and be able to work with beginners as a mentor.
Ninjas are the young people who attend Dojos. They come to their local Dojos to learn about technology, make cool games, apps and websites and to work on their projects with their peers and mentors.
Most Dojos require that parents stay to help out and support from parents is integral to majority of Dojos. Parents often have multiple roles and transition between Champions, mentors and volunteers. Often parents engage with the learning also so can even be considered Ninjas at times!
The community that the Dojo sets up in always plays a massive role in supporting Dojos. From the organisations who provide venues and fiscal and in kind support to Dojos (through equipment, insurance, t-shirts, pizza for mentors etc.) to the companies and universities who can spare a few people from time to time to allow them to help out and mentor at Dojos.