Oliver Thompson, our lead mentor for the Scratch Advanced group in CoderDojo Athenry, recently did a live linkup to a new CoderDojo in Tanzania. Oliver’s notes on the experience are below.
Eugene from the Hello World Foundation (www.helloworldfoundation.com) originally contacted Michael from Coder Dojo Athenry (https://cdathenry.wordpress.com) with the fantastic idea of doing a Live Link up with CoderDojo Athenry, CoderDojo Limierick and new CoderDojos in Tanzania and Nigeria. Eugene would be traveling to Africa to help set up new CoderDojos.
Many emails and phone calls later we had a tentative arrangement to Link up on Saturday the 8th of March, with a dry run scheduled for the Wednesday the 5th of March at the School.
Ciaran of Gairmscoil Mhuire VEC Athenry kindly gave permission to use the school during school time for this dry run, many thanks to the school for this.
Anyway, a few more emails back and forth between Athenry and Tanzania, events began to conspire against us. Internet access was not going to be good enough, if it existed at all.
It was at this point that we hit upon Plan B, I would get into work early on Tuesday 4th of March and we would try the connection from there. I duly arrived at around 6:00 am and got everything set up. And nothing happened! I sent a few emails, wondering where people were, no response, so packed up all my equipment and went back to work. And then Eugene came back on line, we were on for the trial run.
Packed up my equipment again and back to training room.
I Connected the laptop to the overhead projector, started up the Scratch Presentation.
Next was the tablet for the Skype session. I had brought my tripod in as well and in the best frontier tradition tied the tablet to the tripod with a bit of elastic. But hey, it worked a treat.
The tablet was set up in front of the big screen on the wall that had the Scratch Presentation on, so for the people at the other end it just looked like they were at a lecture, with me in front of the slides.
At the other end we had George and Godfrey who are the chief mentors for the new CoderDojos being set up, as well as one or two other people.
The Presentation went really well, Skype worked a treat, George and Godfrey could see all the slides and any Scratch code that I was showing them, it was just like being present at a lecture. Sound was no problem, even from a small tablet.
We spent about an hour on Skype, going through the Presentation and also demonstrating the code through Scratch as well.
It was looking good for the Main Event on Saturday 8th at this stage and I was figuring out if there was any better ways of presenting, and also if I could find anything better that a bit of elastic to hold the tablet to the tripod.
Unfortunately though, we could not go ahead on the Saturday as the location that was being used in Tanzania for the CoderDojo Session did not have a good internet connection.
The trial run and he Skype session were definitely worth doing, at the very least it proved that with a little bit of ingenuity (and elastic) that with fairly simple technology, a laptop, projector and tablet and the wonders of the Internet and Skype it is possible to run training sessions anywhere in the World.
This really was a “Hello World” moment.