What makes a good digital citizen? A guide for children…

At Jam Coding, we inspire young people to get creative with code and we educate them on how to do it safely. Our aim is to create the digital citizens of tomorrow. But what makes a good digital citizen? Keep reading to find out…

Protect personal data

A good digital citizen protects both their personal data and the personal data of others. 

There are many ways in which a child and/or responsible adult can protect private information online:

Firstly, create strong passwords using a mix of characters (usually a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols) and make sure they don’t contain names, birthdays or any other personal clues.

Secondly, turn off the location identifier on any apps or websites used by a child. This will protect their location from strangers when using apps like Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, etc.

Thirdly, manage privacy settings on all apps and websites. On Facebook, for example, you can control what information non-friends can see and who can send you messages.

And finally, set up two-factor authentication to add an extra layer of protection from hackers who may want to access your child’s account for fraudulent reasons. 

Be respectful of other internet users

A good digital citizen is always respectful online. This means:

  • No trolling or cyberbullying
  • Respecting the opinions and views of others, even if you disagree
  • Using polite language, imagery and emojis
  • Only sharing information you believe to be true. If in doubt, fact check!
  • Only using real names and profiles to connect with others

Understand and respect copyright laws

A good digital citizen understands and respects copyright laws.

Nowadays, young people in education have access to a wide range of information, but not all that information can be used, shared or edited. 

As daily participants, it’s important for children to understand the basic ethical and legal boundaries surrounding the internet and the creative work of others.

Manage digital footprint

A good digital citizen understands that anything they post online creates a digital footprint. 

There are many ways in which a child and/or parent can manage their digital footprint:

  • Delete any content you wouldn’t want a parent, teacher or potential employer to see
  • Research yourself online to find and delete any negative information 
  • Don’t share too much about yourself and, if you do, make sure it’s professional and respectful

Limit (and make good use of) screen time

A good digital citizen is careful about how much time they spend in front of the screen, and how they use that time. The internet is a great resource for learning but children need to find a healthy balance between time spent online and offline.

The way they use screen time is equally important. Scrolling through Instagram and watching endless videos may be fun, but using a creative app or typing is a better use of time.

What makes you a good #DigitalCitizen? Let us know!

How Yoda’s wisdom can be applied to coding

You may know Yoda as a small, frog-like, 900-and-something-year-old creature who crops up every now and then to say something funny but, to many across the galaxy, he’s so much more than that.

He may be a fictional character but he’s arguably one of the best teachers in the universe. Let’s take a look at some of Yoda’s most famous teachings and how his wisdom can be applied to coding:

“You must unlearn what you have learned”

When we learn how to do something, the process becomes second nature. There’s no need to try different methods because we know this one works. Baking a cake, for example. If you use a recipe and you’re happy with the result, why try another?

In The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda tells Luke Skywalker he must unlearn what he has learned. In doing so, he’s trying to get him to think outside the box. The same can be applied to coding. Sometimes you need to forget what you know in order to learn something new and progress. It’s all about perspective!

“Do. Or do not. There is no try!”

In the same scene, as Luke tries to lift the X-Wing fighter out of the swamp, Yoda tells him to either decide to do it or give up entirely. By saying he will “try” Luke already has the preconception that he will fail, which is precisely his problem.

In coding, there may be times when the task at hand seems impossible, but there’s always a way. By tackling the problem with a positive attitude and the belief that you can fix it, you are more likely to achieve your goals.

“The greatest teacher, failure is”

Being successful is great, but as Yoda said, failure really is the best teacher. For children learning how to code, failure is an opportunity to learn acceptance, resilience and problem-solving skills.

It forces us to rethink our decisions and actions and discover better ways to get the results we want.

“Patience you must have, my young padawan”

You can’t learn how to code over night. It involves a whole lot of trial and error and will be sure to test your child’s patience. 

As younglings learn, they will start to understand how every action they take contributes to the end result. Not only does coding require patience, but it also teaches it.

“If no mistake you have made, yet losing you are, a different game you should play”

In this quote, Yoda teaches us to focus on the bigger picture. For example, you’ve built a video game but it doesn’t work the way you had planned. You go digging and find that you’ve done everything by the book. What now? 

In cases like this, you may need to change your strategy…and that’s okay!

What lessons have you learnt from Yoda? Follow us on social media to join the conversation.

The link between maths and coding

Teachers are always trying to find new and engaging ways to get kids to enjoy maths. You know the drill. Giving a lesson on fractions? A pizza is the only prop you’ll need.

It’s an important part of learning in the early years, but a lot of children struggle to form a connection with it in the same way they do with more emotive subjects like art, history or languages.

Maths is an abstract subject that helps children understand concepts like logic, distance, space and shapes. Not only does it teach them how to apply logic to work out a problem, but it also helps them understand why the solution works.

Children generally don’t like or understand what they can’t see, which explains why teachers are forced to whip out tasty props to get their attention!

Now let’s talk about the link between maths and coding…

Maths and coding go hand in hand. In fact, some of the most well-known computer scientists in history were also mathematicians. 

Alan Turing, for example, studied maths at university before he was crowned the Father of Computer Science.

When children learn how to code, they are unknowingly learning analytical and mathematical thinking skills at the same time.

Although not quite as tasty, learning to code helps children visualise abstract concepts in the same way that pizza does. 

This visualisation helps them understand complex concepts in a fun, imaginative way, and when children are given the opportunity to create, they are more inclined to learn.

At Jam Coding, many of our workshops focus on mathematical concepts that children would generally dismiss as boring, yet the feedback we receive from parents is always exceptional.

If you’re struggling to get your child to enjoy maths, why not give coding a try? Follow us on social media for helpful hints and tips or get in touch to book a workshop in your area.

3 ways coding helps the environment

No matter where you work or what you do, coding is a crucial part of modern day life. At present, it’s one of the most in-demand skills in the world. Not just in the technology industry, but across all industries, and that isn’t about to change any time soon!

But the economy is just one of the many reasons the world needs coders. In celebration of Earth Day, let’s take a look at 3 ways coding helps the environment:

The internet 

Think back to April 2020 when the world first went into lockdown. Thanks to the internet and various online programs, many of us were given the opportunity to work from home. The world went quiet, the streets were empty and all meetings were held online in our favourite pyjama suits.

This much-needed healing period not only reduced air pollution, fuel consumption and paper production, but also encouraged wildlife to return to abandoned habitats. 

At a time when switching on the news was frightening, reading these stories gave us hope.

Scientific research

First of all, a huge shout out to the many scientists who dedicate their lives to saving our planet! 

Nowadays, scientists rely on technology to collect, investigate and analyse data for quicker, more accurate results.

The addition of technology to scientific research has been instrumental in learning about climate change, pollution, waste disposal and other environmental issues the world is facing today.

Wildlife corridors 

The endangerment of species and ecosystems is one of the biggest environmental issues of our time. It only takes a glance out the window to realise the world is more urbanised than ever before. 

To combat this issue, we create wildlife corridors which are essentially bridges between habitats that would otherwise be separated by human territory, e.g. roads.

Ecologists collect and analyse data on animal habits and movement patterns, then use computational methods to design wildlife corridors, creating safe passage between habitats.

When you think of coding, you may think of creating video games and computer software, but there’s no limit to the things you can do with this wonderful life skill.

Want to learn how to code and help the environment? Jam Coding offers computing workshops at primary schools across the UK. We always embed into our sessions cross-curricular references to science, climate change and other important environmental issues. Get in touch to book a workshop in your area.

The RIDICULOUS UK digital skills shortage!

Let’s be clear here; the demand for AI, programming and computing skills is soaring. Yet, the number of young people taking IT subjects at GCSE level has declined by a whopping 40% since 2015 in the UK. Think about that for a minute….

We have a skills SHORTAGE now. Yet in the future we are going to have LESS people to do the jobs we have today let alone satisfy the increased demand for digital jobs that will continue to increase year on year. That’s ridiculous! 

When we stand in front of a group of children and tell them they can program computer games, robots or make digital art and films for a living they go crazy! They love it. We’re not careers advisors but we do want to engage learners and show them a career pathway. 

We teach the ages we teach for a reason; we humanise and relate the computing opportunity whilst inspiring young people to a prosperous digital future. When our learners get to GCSE age we want them to demand their GCSE in computing!

Many employers believe that now more than ever, digital literacy is important for profitability.  However, young people are leaving education without sufficient digital skills and not all employers are able to provide on-the-job training.

This presents a problem, as The Learning & Work Institute reveal that 70% of young people expect employers to teach them digital skills.

Dr Neil Bentley-Gockmann, chief executive at WorldSkills UK, puts the shortage down to 4 main reasons:

  1. A lack of clearly defined job roles in certain fields
  2. A lack of understanding and guidance about potential career paths
  3. A lack of relatable role models
  4. A difficulty in making many technical professionals seem appealing to young people, especially young women

So, what now?

To put it simply, interest in digital subjects and skills is rapidly declining, whilst demand for talent is at an all-time high, especially during the pandemic which has proven the importance of digital skills for business.

More importantly, it has highlighted the uncertainty around where these skills should come from. Jam Coding was established in 2014 for exactly this reason.

We believe that children should learn digital skills from their early school years. We’re dedicated to helping young learners see the fun, rewarding opportunities that a digital career can provide.

If you’re a headteacher, teacher or parent and want to guide your child or children towards a bright digital future then we would love to hear from you. Jam Coding are working across the country directly with Primary Schools and communities to help deliver our goal: The next generation of Digital Citizens.

5 reasons why girls should get into coding

According to a global software developer survey done in 2020, a whopping 91.5% of developers are male. There’s a general myth that women and girls aren’t all that interested in technical subjects, which isn’t strictly true. Despite the gender imbalance in the world of tech, more and more young girls are becoming interested in learning to code.  

Do you think your child would enjoy learning how to code? In celebration of international women’s day, we take a look at the 5 reasons why girls should get into coding. 

1) Coding is accessible

Take it from us, learning how to code isn’t as difficult as it used to be. Thanks to the wealth of information now available online, as well as online courses and kid-friendly coding organisations like ours, the discipline has never been more accessible for new learners. 

2) Coding opens doors for lots of career options

From Web Developers, to Data Scientists, to Network Administrators, there are several career options for your child if they choose to go down the coding career path. Coders are in demand and that’s not going to change anytime soon! 

3) Coding presents a challenge 

When children first learn how to code, it’s almost like learning how to solve a fun puzzle. As their abilities and understanding grows, these puzzles become increasingly complex. Coding challenges the mind and develops problem-solving skills in ways that other disciplines don’t. 

Having delivered coding workshops in some schools for a number of years, we’ve seen first hand how children learn, overcome challenges then thrive.

4) Coding helps unleash your creativity 

Coding isn’t a boring collection of data- code creates and builds. Code has a goal and code can be whatever your child wants it to be. They just have to use their imagination! 

5) Coding needs girls

Females make 85% of online shopping decisions. How can businesses properly meet the demands of users without seeing their code from a woman’s perspective? With such a huge gender gap in the world of tech, it is clear that the feminine touch is seriously lacking. As Ernie K-Doe once said, here come the girls! 

At Jam Coding, our coaches are both male and female and we have an equal boy/girl take up on our workshops. We inspire young girls to embark on a digital future by working with them at the right ages.

Are you considering getting your child into coding? Connect with us on social media for helpful tips and expert advice or get in touch to book a workshop in your area.

What is coding? Our definition

If you type ‘what is coding?’ into Google, you’ll find thousands of options. We know because we’ve tried it. It’s funny that with so many options, the answer is pretty much the same. Coding is the process or activity of writing computer programs…

Jam Coding has been delivering computing workshops to children for over 7 years now, and whilst that definition is correct, ours is slightly different.

Coding is having the confidence to try something different and new. 

It’s a test of resilience. 

It’s critical thinking. 

It’s the ability to process information and think like a computer… 

To notice patterns and understand what they mean.

In our digital world, coding is a door to job opportunities. 

It’s communication. It’s storytelling in a universal language.

Coding is complexity. 

It’s a workout for the mind and memory that requires determination, focus and logic.

It’s learning new skills: typing, writing, maths…

It’s finding the solution to a problem or a loop hole to get around it.

It’s a celebration of collaboration and creativity. 

Coding is fun!

To us, coding is so much more than just writing computer programs. It’s a series of skills that children will benefit from in every aspect of life. Yet, only an estimated 0.5% of the world’s population has mastered it.

At Jam Coding, we understand just how important these skills will be to employers in the future job market, and see it as our duty to instil them into children from a young age. Our workshops are designed to do just that.

Programming is like poetry – A Valentine’s Day poem by Jam Coding

Programming is like poetry;

A sequence of code,

That creates an ode,

To a world of endless possibilities.

Like poetry, it takes practice,

To master the tactics,

Of algorithms and coding with love.

It can be difficult to grasp,

With intricacies so vast,

Like abstraction, selection and bugs.

But once you do,

Your worries will be few,

As you unleash your creativity.

You’ll find excitement in design,

Writing instructions and spending time,

On fun imaginative activities. 

If you dream not of being,

In show biz but instead seeking,

To be an architect in your own right…

Then join Jam Coding,

In our mission of moulding,

The digital citizens of our time.

7 tips for parents on Safer Internet Day

Gone are the days when children used the internet for one reason and one reason only: MSN. There was nothing better than logging in after a long day at school and chatting the night away to the same pals you’d spent the entire day with… 

Except researching your display name, of course, which had to use every character on the keyboard to make the cut, and downloading a library of emoji’s you’d soon come to regret.

Today, the internet is so much more than just a bit of after school fun. Children rely on it for education. It’s a treasure chest of information and a wonderful resource for learning.

Like most great things, however, the internet does have its downsides. Now that it’s more widely used, it’s important that children understand the dangers of the internet and how to use it responsibly. On Safer Internet Day, here are our tips for parents:

  1. Firstly, have an open conversation with your children about what threats are out there. It’s important they understand the reasons for your supervision. Let them ask questions and answer them as honestly as you can.
  2. Educate children about personal data, what concludes as personal data and why it should never be shared online. The same applies to usernames, passwords and any other information that may help cyber criminals access their accounts.
  3. Make sure they understand the seriousness of cyberbullying. The type of language they use must always be respectful and well mannered. Likewise, if your child experiences bullying online, they should come to you straight away.
  4. Teach children to think before they post online. Anything they post will remain on the internet indefinitely, even if they delete it.
  5. Never share personal images online, even with friends! Help them understand that, once an image has been shared, how it’s used is out of their control.
  6. Stranger danger is just as big of a threat online as it is in real life. If they receive messages or phone calls from anyone they don’t know, they must end the conversation immediately and tell an adult.
  7. Tell them why sharing fake news and misinformation is dangerous, and why they shouldn’t believe everything they read online!

In a world that’s becoming more and more digital, the best way to protect children is to educate them on the dangers of the internet and how best to handle them. 

Jam Coding has been delivering Digital Safety and Digital Citizen workshops to primary school children and their parents since 2014. We have ongoing funding to deliver these for free in certain geographical areas. If you are interested please contact us.

Do you have any other tips for safer internet usage? Join the conversation using #SaferInternetDay 

Jam Coding: The story behind the name

If you’ve ever a chosen a name, you’ll understand just how hard it is to settle on the right one.

That was the case for Roger, our director, when he named his camper van Viv. It was also the case when he put the name of his sourdough starter in the hands of his Instagram followers. 

There were plenty of suggestions: Clint Yeastwood, Wheatney Houston and a suspicious amount of Carole Baskin’s… but after much deliberation, he settled on Marilyn Mondough.

Unlike Marilyn and Viv, the inspiration behind Jam Coding came quite easily. Despite Roger’s love for food, it had nothing to do with everyone’s favourite fruity conserve. It was actually named after his uncle, Jim “Jam” Mason.

“Uncle Jim was a big influence in my life at a time when I didn’t know what to do. He taught me about the world of business and investing in people.”

A prominent Lancashire businessman and political figure, Jim left behind an incredible legacy of achievement when he passed away in 2009.

Early life & notable achievements 

At just 14, Jim left Bangor Street School, now a community centre, to work as a photographer for a newspaper. He then joined the RAF and trained as a pilot before flying Lancaster in Bomber Command during the Second World War.

Jim had a strong sense of social responsibility. Both he and his wife Frances were members of the Young Socialists and played an instrumental part in the selection of Barbara Castle as Blackburn’s MP.

An active member of the Labour Party since 1939, he served as leader of the Labour group on Lancashire County Council and chairman of the North West Labour Party. He was also Deputy Lieutenant of Lancashire County Palatine.

In 1982, Jim co-founded Lancashire Enterprises Ltd which was responsible for major training, regeneration and employment projects. It is said to have saved thousands of jobs for Lancashire and was a model for the country.

Fortunately, his work didn’t go unnoticed. In 1999, he was awarded a CBE for his services and the following year, he was named as one of the North West’s Businessmen of the Millennium!

Why Jam Coding?

Jim was an important figure in Roger’s life and a huge inspiration behind both Jam Coding’s name and ethos. 

It’s predicted that, in 10 years time, 9 out of 10 jobs will require digital skills.

Like Jim, we want to give back the community we love and the nation as a whole by investing in young people with a computing education that will one day be essential.

Plus, we think it’s a pretty cool name!