Coding needs to be demystified

How do you even begin to strike up a conversation with a software engineer or a web developer about their work, when you have no knowledge of programming? Does it seem like pure gibberish, or like trying to figure out a magic trick, when you hear the IT professionals you live or work with talk about their fields? And from the other perspective, how do IT specialists explain their specialised knowledge, and make it accessible to non-specialists?

This weekend, the IT University of Copenhagen and Rails Girls Copenhagen are holding a workshop, Coding Workshop for Everyone!, sponsored by Microsoft, Unity Technologies and Dell EMC, to deal with these issues.

“We have invited spouses of IT professionals, people working in IT companies, but not directly working with IT, and parents of tomorrow’s IT talents, so they will better be able to understand what the people they live and work with are doing in their everyday life. The spirit of the workshop is to change the image of IT, and to demystify coding,” says Kristin Kaltenhäuser, one of the organizers of the event at ITU.

Dell EMC, one of the sponsors, is in complete agreement with the purpose of the workshop. Sara Cheng, who is Site Lead in the volunteer employee group GenNext, explains that technology influences the entire world, and our way of living. It is important to tell the digital narrative in a way where everyone can follow:

“Our primary purpose is to disseminate knowledge of technology in our local community, and thus help to de-stigmatise a subject, which can seem diffuse and difficult to relate to. It seems natural for us to sponsor an event where “for Everyone” is part of the title.”

The overwhelming response to the event shows that the initiative is greatly appreciated – the signup had to be closed well before the start of the workshop. Thankfully, this will not be the only workshop of its kind.

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It is our hope that this is just the first in a long row of coding workshops, which can help update the citizens’ digital competencies.

Lene Pries-Heje, Head of Studies at ITU
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“It is our hope that this is just the first in a long row of coding workshops, which can help update the citizens’ digital competencies. Right now we are working on creating the financial foundation for an actual organisation, which can provide such workshops in the future,” says Lene Pries-Heje, Head of Studies at ITU, who has set the project in motion.

It is not just about coding

Though the workshop focuses on coding, the concept of the workshop is about more than that. Charlotte Mark, Managing Director of Microsoft Development Center Copenhagen, explains that Microsoft wants to make digital skills in general available to all:

“We need to foster computational thinking, collaboration, creativity and innovation, and one way is to get people to understand the magic behind coding. We hope that the coding workshop at ITU will help to show the possibilities coding has to offer and how it can be used as a tool to unleash creativity and impact the world around you in different ways.”

The other side of the issue – how IT specialist can communicate their knowledge so everyone understands – is also dealt with at the workshop, which is taught by ITU’s own students, alongside volunteers from the IT industry. This is another aspect, which appeals to the sponsors:

“It is important for us to be a part of motivating and inspiring children and young adults to pursue a career in IT, and an event which is founded on both technology, education and learning is perfectly in line with Dell EMC’s overall goal of giving back to our community,” says Sara Cheng, Dell EMC

“We work with more than 150 nonprofit organizations across 60 countries to help engage over three million young people with computer science learning experience that dispel myths and ignite passions,” says Charlotte Mark, Microsoft.

The workshop starts Friday afternoon, 1 June, and runs through Saturday. Among the participants are also administrative staff from ITU, who fit right into the target group, and who will hopefully understand the work of their colleagues a little better come Monday.