Coding with Communities: Creating New Value in Service Learning
In March to June this year, students from National Taiwan University’s (NTU) Electrical Engineering and Information Management departments contributed to the Hour of Code™ (HOC) in Taiwan initiative through translation. Rather than embarking on the traditionally practiced community cleanup as part of their service-learning module, tertiary students were engaged in eight translation sessions and encouraged to apply their academic learning to community service.
The HOC in Taiwan initiative was introduced in 2016 by The Alliance Cultural Foundation (ACF) in partnership with 30 community organizations and industries to promote interest in coding among Taiwan’s children. In 2017, HOC in Taiwan spearheaded the translation of the teaching manual from Code.org to encourage teachers in rural Taiwan to make use of the online teaching material.
Last semester, twelve Master students from NTU’s Information Management department took the service-learning module with three students who merely wanted to help out. With Professor Kong Ling-jie and teaching assistants, the students provided the training to teachers in thirteen junior high and elementary schools in New Taipei City explaining the operations and coding logic behind the HOC challenge. Another group of students coached fifth-graders at Sanxia’s English Wonderland Long Pu Campus of the elementary school.
In preparation, each volunteer undergoes training from the Software Liberty Association of Taiwan (SLAT). In its first two sessions, the SLAT uses its book “Computer Science Uplugged” to select suitable trial programs for the volunteers. SLAT Director Weng Jia-ji and lecturer Sun Ci-ping also shared on international exchange during meetings in the true spirit of free software to co-create and co-share. They encouraged the college youth volunteers to enrich themselves in the process of volunteering inspiring them to realize the absence of status distinction between a giver and a receiver. Since ACF’s HOC in Taiwan initiation to-date, coding has become part of junior high and high school curriculums across Taiwan.