DCU and Microsoft team up for Hour of Code 2018

Aoife O'Brien

DCU student teachers learned about Hour of Code in the new Minecraft Studios.

Microsoft Ireland has partnered with Dublin City University (DCU) to enable over 450 final year students to introduce computer coding to primary school students.

The partnership is part of the company’s plans for Hour of Code 2018 which is held annually by Code.org during Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek).

CSEdWeek is a global program with more than 100 million learners in 180 countries and is dedicated to inspiring students to take interest in computer science. Microsoft’s partnership with DCU will see this program introduced to an additional 10,000 primary school students across Ireland.

During CSEdWeek which ran from Dec 3rd to Dec 9th, Microsoft encouraged primary schools across the country to get involved through the company’s new interactive Hour of Code video session and sent 200 of its employees to various schools to deliver face to face Hour of Code sessions.

However an Hour of Code can be held at any time of the year and Microsoft’s partnership with DCU helps to ensure that student teachers are equipped to use digital technologies to consolidate children’s learning from other subjects across the curriculum.

The Hour of Code professional learning experience for student teachers in DCU was hosted in the new Minecraft Studio, which was officially opened Nov 29th 2018.

Microsoft has invested in this Studio as a learning space for student teachers in DCU to explore how innovative virtual and physical learning spaces can transform the curriculum and engage young people with new educational environments.

Speaking at the launch of the Hour of Code plans at DCU, Joe McHugh TD, Minister for Education and Skills, said: “As a Government, we are committed through the STEM Education Policy Statement and Implementation Plan to position Ireland as the best in Europe in STEM education by 2026. Initiatives such as this announced today will play a key role in not only developing key STEM skills amongst primary school students, it will provide our future educators with the tools to turn that passion into a life-long career.”

Final year BEd student, Avril Moran said that while they already have digital learning classes once a week, the introduction of the digital strategy for schools 2015 – 2018 means that partnerships like this are a great addition to the course.

“The majority of students in their early 20’s wouldn’t have much experience with Minecraft so it’s really a great opportunity for us to develop our own skills so we feel confident and competent next year when we’re all teaching in schools,” she said.

President of DCU, Prof. Brian MacCraith echoed this saying that the facility will enhance student teachers understanding of coding.

“DCU places a strong emphasis on STEM Education in many ways, and we recognise that the preparation of teachers for both Primary and Post-Primary Schools…plays a critically important role in that regard,” he said.

Speaking at the launch, General Manager of CoderDojo, Rosa Langhammer said initiatives like this are important to “attract more girls to coding, dispel stereotypes associated with the tech industry, provide access to relevant role models and get young people excited about a career path in technology.”

Aoife O’Brien

Image Credit:Mikey Walsh