At the weekly membership update and engagement webinar AONTAS has been creating space for AONTAS members to discuss their work and how COVID-19 has been affecting their organisation and learners. A recent webinar spotlighted Ciara Browne from the Code Institute. Ciara gave attendees an insight into what the Code Institute is all about and how it supports learners from all walks of life to become “builders of the internet”, as she phrased it.
Ciara Browne is the Student Recruitment Manager for the Code Institute. Ciara outlined how some of the biggest accounts she manages involve provision that is funded by an Education and Training Board, and Springboard.
“a lot of the learners have been long-term unemployed so we have to make sure that, with confidence building, we are supporting people with onboarding the course and after as alumni of the Programme. And that is the key factor”
Ciara’s presentation brought participants through who the organisation is, what their diploma consists of and how they brought learning provision 100% online during the pandemic.
In short, the Code Institute provides learners with a Diploma in software development. This EQF Level 5 accreditation (QQI Level 6). The delivery and assessment is 100% online and is backed with robust learner support and learner progress metrics. It has been successfully delivered full-time over 16 weeks or part-time up to 52 weeks. Building learners’ self-confidence as much as their competences, are at the core of the organization’s offer. Employability also forms an important component. As Ciara mentioned, “it does work, but you have to convey to your learners that you are confident in their abilities, so you can be there for them for support throughout their experience of online learning”
Ciara said she was well aware of how coding and software development immediately conjures a level of fear in most people who may not be familiar with the area. She demystified some of the tech-terms that can be a barrier for learners and described how this kind of alienation from technology has been a factor in Ireland’s digital skills gap. It can be hard attracting people to such courses because many people just assume they will require having a good academic background in maths, for example. “When you think of who a ‘coder’ or software developer is, you might think they are good at maths, are bookish, and lots of stereotypes come up, but in my experience and employers’ experience that is simply not the case”. She highlighted three characteristics that are far more important to success in this field of learning and work. They are patience, tenacity and humility. Remaining calm under pressure and not throwing the laptop out the window when things get frustrating is important; tenacity involves staying focused on the task at hand until a solution has been successfully reached; and humility paves the way for being open to learning new things every day. To a large degree every company is becoming a software company because if the increasing amount and importance of online dimensions to their work. Coders and software developers are more like builders, Ciara said: “software developer is a ‘fluffy term’, so if you can imagine the Internet as a series of cities, suburbs and country-sides. Software developers are the people who build the Internet. They’re creating not just websites but web applications that improve and enhance the internet”.
As things stand, the Code Institute has received funding from the European Social Fund meaning that the programme can be delivered part-time over one year through Springboard and in partnership with some Education and Training Boards. Ciara told webinar participants that she would very much welcome fellow AONTAS members getting in touch with her to look at securing more funding together so that the programme could be brought to more people across Ireland. In closing, she said that the programme is “a great route into software development and it is more accessible learning for more people”.
The new context, and potential direction of employment and learning, coupled with the increased digitisation of more aspects of daily life due to the pandemic, made Ciara’s presentation very timely. AONTAS members were certainly treated to lots of food for thought. To contact Ciara about funding possibilities and to consider future collaboration please email her at email@example.com.
Emma O’Kane, AONTAS Social Media Officer, closed the webinar by encouraging AONTAS members to get involved in the ongoing #ExperienceCommunityEd social media campaign. Search "#ExperienceCommunityEd" on Twitter to view some great content shared by community education organisations across Ireland.
It is more important than ever that members promote the really invaluable work they have been carrying out and continue to provide during these very difficult times. Tell your online communities about the services you provide and how these benefit your learners and society as a whole. Raising awareness about the value and role of community-based adult learning across Ireland is vital to the sector’s survival and success. For any support with social media, or if you have any questions, please contact Emma at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to AONTAS on Twitter and Facebook and send us a message.