The How to run an Hour of Code was one of the workshops during the Telecentre Europe Annual Conference (TEAC16) on October 7, 2016. The workshop aimed to give people a practical understanding of what they need to do to carry out an Hour of Code either at a local level or as a nationwide campaign. The first part, prepared by Yakav Ostanin and myself, explained the techniques of conducting nationwide campaigns. The second part was conducted by Zarko Cizmar, where the theory was supported with real life practice - he confirmed the importance of coding for young generation and with the help of his son showed how kids can learn it easily and benefit from it.

For the past three years, Code.org, a nonprofit dedicated to growing computer science education, has organized a campaign that attracted more than 100 million students to try one hour of computer science

What is the Hour of Code?

The Hour of Code is a global movement reaching over 100 million students in 180+ countries. The idea behind the Hour of Code is simple: all students in the world should be introduced to computer programming. Learning to code has never been this easy or this accessible.

CHOOSINC A STRATEGY

What is your strategy?

1. Join or run someone else's campaign:

+ Easier to run, to get resources and tech support;
+ less responsibility;
+ requires less time and resources
- limited by a campaign organizer  (platform support, timing restrictions, etc.)
- possible conflict of interest that might lead to failure or low participation.
2. Make your own campaign
+ FREEDOM & FLEXIBILITY
- More time to prepare (plan the event, design and promote the campaign, create a tutorial, find the resources, have a clear idea of what you hope to accomplish);
- Responsibility for the entire campaign and its outcomes.

CREATING A MESSAGE

Use one universal message throughout your Hour of Code campaign: the Hour of Code is an opportunity to show anyone can learn the basics of computer science. Any school or teacher can host it, in any country, in any language.  It’s designed to spark interest and encourage students and teachers to keep learning. The Hour of Code is for all ages, no experience needed. Even computers are optional. Anyone can participate and organize their own Hour of Code event.

Your message needs to be universal, clear and understandable. It should address the problem or a challenge around Computer Science (aka IT, Informatics, further - CS) education in your country, or meet an IT-industry, government and job market needs.  Let's look at the examples

Worldwide examples:

1. Every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science. Anyone can learn the basics of computer science - USA; code.org
2. Bring coding and digital literacy to everybody in a fun and engaging way - Europe; codeweek.eu
3. Every young person should learn computer science to succeed in a world becoming more dependent on technology everyday
4. Every person deserves basic knowledge of coding
5. Every child in every school should have access to computer science — to become literate citizens in today’s digital world and to test their interests in exploring CS further as a career.

Using these examples, given links and answering the questions below will help you to create your perfect message. 

- Is computer science and/or coding taught in your country? How are they taught? What is your target audience? Why are coding skills important?
- What do your government authorities and local IT-companies say about CS education, coding and IT job market?
- What do the majority of school students say about CS and coding?

What is your goal?

Bring CS to schools? Promote CS education? Open after school coding clubs?

To show (NUMBER) school students (your target audience) that

-coding is an entertaining and creative process;
-coding helps people to express themselves, and develop critical thinking and other useful skills.

Help young people to explore a potential future promising career in IT sphere and understand why to learn coding is important for their future.

REMEMBER: The higher the goal is, the greater is the interest of your potential partners to the campaign.

CREATING COMMUNICATION PLAN

Tips: Start as early as possible. Develop a dependable and reliable team, and divide communication responsibilities to effectively reach the target audiences and partners.

Tasks

  1. Determine partners
  2. Prioritize partners
  3. Determine asks for high-reach partners
  4. Determine list of asks for low-reach partners
  5. Draft a communication plan for partners to keep them in the loop. Agree on a schedule for partner promotion.
  6. Send assets to promotional partners
  7. Follow up with partners and confirm commitments

Standardize your asks as much as possible to reduce confusion. With the exception of unique (big) partners, most partners will generally be doing the same actions, promoting the same message on the same milestones/timelines.

In order to save time and energy, prioritize, which partners you need to talk to directly and provide high-touch support. Determine specific asks for these high-reach partners ahead of time and get their commitment clearly outlined, with dates and timelines agreed upon.

For example, last year we were able to have the Hour of Code campaign incorporated in a lesson with Minister of Communication and Representatives of Russian IT companies. This type of event required dozens of conversations, as well as continual follow-up to ensure it happened.  

Be strategic about when you email who. People will unsubscribe and lose interest if emailed too often.

RECRUITNG PARTNERS

Tips: Partnerships to reach classrooms is the most important ingredient of success for the Hour of Code.

Recruit local organizations that reach large networks of people to help spread the word. Organizations that reach principals, teachers and students are key, but after-school nonprofits, companies and other groups shouldn’t be excluded.

It may help to categorize partners into groups like non-profits or corporations and their subsequent audience type. This will make sure you provide them with the correct messaging/content specific to their network

Who are your partners?

  1. IT companies and corporations (national and local)
  2. State and local authorities
  3. Schools and CS teachers (and their networks)
  4. Nonprofits and NGOs, universities
  5. Mass media

Communication Plan

  • Lead - Emailed interest in partnering
  • Contacted - Have heard back and scheduled a call
  • Negotiate Ask - Pitched the ask
  • Finalize Details - Confirm/outline what they are committing to via email
  • Finalize Fulfillment - Send them content/assets
  • Close Won/Lost - Confirm they executed

Create a pipeline for partners and use a tool to keep them organized. For the Hour of Code campaign we categorized our pipeline of partners into one of the following categories, just like a typical sales pipeline,  to define each stage of an ask with a partner.

Again - be strategic about when you will email who. People will unsubscribe and lose interest if emailed too often.

When asking a partner to promote the Hour of Code, make sure to target the message to the partner’s audience. For example, an email being sent to the employees of a corporation will have a different message/action items than one sent to a partner that reaches teachers.

Tips: What to offer partners in return?

Partners will expect some recognition for their support. Keep this recognition standard by including partners’ logos on your website.

Kept recognition standard so you don’t create additional work for yourself. If a partner goes far beyond in their contribution, that act in itself will garner recognition.

USEFUL RESOURCES:

1. Code.org

2. Codeweek.eu/resources/

3. Every big company has something interesting and useful

Here is the worksheet to help you create your Hour of Code Action Plan: My_HourofCode_Campaign_Action_Plan.docx

See the PPT presentation for the workshop: TEAC16_HowTo_HourOfCode.pdf

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