As part of EU Code Week, an initiative aimed at encouraging children and students to give coding a go, Microsoft is spearheading the European Coding Initiative. Together with Facebook, Rovio, SAP and Liberty Global, Microsoft have formed an industry coalition to launch a unique pan-European online platform http://eu.code.org/ which provides teachers and students with access to coding resources and training.

Locally, to mark EU Code Week students from Dublin were invited to attend a CoderDojo session at Microsoft’s campus in Sandyford. The session marked the first of the Microsoft CoderDojo Club for the 2014/2015 school year.

Speaking at Microsoft’s EU Code Week event Dr Kevin Marshall, Head of Education, Microsoft Ireland said: “Since the advent of electricity, every generation has had to adapt to evolving technologies transforming the world around them. Coding is the new literacy and we believe that every schoolchild deserves the chance to learn to ‘read’. EU Code Week is the perfect time for students to try their hand at coding and discover what lies behind the apps and gadgets they use every day.

To achieve their full potential, young people need to understand how new technologies work. Only then will they be able to fully understand the increasingly digital world they live in – and shape it to their liking. To do this, one of the things they will need to do is to learn code. Several Microsoft initiatives are already focused on tapping into young people’s digital creativity, whether they’re creating games with Kodu, a simple visual programming language, or taking part in the International Hour of Code – a challenge we’ve set in partnership with Code.org, to get 100 million students to try coding for just one hour. We were delighted to be able to host our event in Microsoft to coincide with the week and we’re looking forward to another busy year ahead of coding with our Irish youth.”

Pictured was Eoin Manning (11) and Lauren Boyle (10) with Julie Cullen, Irish Ambassador EU Code Week

Pictured was Eoin Manning (11) and Lauren Boyle (10) with Julie Cullen, Irish Ambassador EU Code Week

During EU Code Week, Microsoft is running several events across Europe aimed at getting young people to code, as well as promoting ICT education in Europe’s schools. As part of Microsoft’s global YouthSpark initiative which aims to create opportunities for youth around the world, several programs are specifically dedicated to coding training and resource provision:

  • Kodu Game Lab – an online space for kids to discover Kodu, a simple visual programming language kids can use to create their own games on Xbox and PC, and which teaches creativity, problem solving, storytelling, as well as programming.
  • Kodu Kup Europe – a 6-month Europe-wide coding competition for 6-16 year olds from eight countries: Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Lithuania, Norway, Portugal, and the UK. The final will take place in EU Code Week.
  • TouchDevelop – a tool which lets users create apps on iPad, iPhone, Android, PC, Mac, Windows Phone, by writing scripts on mobile devices and PCs. Users can then install, run, edit or publish these apps in the TouchDevelop Cloud and export their apps to the Windows store.
  • ProjectSpark – a “game-maker” video game for Windows, Xbox, and Kinect, which can be used to create games, movies and other experiences within the game. Users can download others’ content, remix it, or create content of their own, as well as sharing created items within the game.
  • Small Basic – a simplified version of Microsoft’s programming language Visual Basic, suitable for kids and beginners. It is based on.NET, a software framework for Windows.
  • MineCraft – a video game in which users create the world around them out of 3D textured blocks, and must explore, acquire resources or combat monsters, in various different gameplay modes.

Saturday 11th October marked the first day of EU Code Week. During the past three days, over 900 events have taken place across Europe, adding to the roughly 500 events which had taken place earlier.

Speaking from Microsoft about EU Code Week Julie Cullen, Irish Ambassador EU Code Week at European Commission said: “I am delighted to be a part of Microsoft CoderDojo again this year. For two years, the coders of Ireland have exceeded all expectations by having the highest number of events during EU Code Week. Coding enables us to build things and to bring our crazy ideas to life”.

For further information about EU Code Week log onto www.codeweek.eu or follow #codeEU. For access to Microsoft educational tools log onto www.microsoft.ie/education.