At Kainos, every employee is actively encouraged to take part in outreach activities as part of the Kainos Academy. These are planned and organised with different schools, universities, community groups and organisations in locations near every Kainos office!
The shape and form of every outreach activity varies greatly, from classroom led coding workshops to large scale robotics sessions and to our flagship events such as Kainos CodeCamp which is a two-week coding camp held over summer, open to people of all skill levels and backgrounds. The underlying motivation behind every tech outreach activity is:
to make programming and technology much more accessible to those who can’t easily access it!
Kainos is committed to tech outreach activities and allow all staff time allocated to use to attend these activities during the working week.
So why do we do it?
There are many benefits to taking part in outreach – first and foremost is giving back to the community around us.
We hope that through our educational sessions which we run in various schools and organisations that we can inspire and inform the next generation of coders, programmers and problem solvers. To give them the confidence and ability to try new things for themselves as well as make them aware of opportunities and career paths that they may not have been aware of before.
Secondly, having the opportunity to teach topics that I know well has been a transformational experience for me.
I have had many varied opportunities to teach alongside my colleagues and have seen a transformation in their confidence and skills, starting from zero experience in teaching previously to finding new inventive ways to teach concepts to new audiences, it was an amazing thing to witness.
The personal skills developed are brought back to Kainos, enabling us to learn and grow from each other’s experiences and build stronger teams.
Teaching the teachers, educating the educators
One of my most recent Kainos Academy experiences was unique as it involved teaching to an older audience instead of a younger one.
Stranmillis University, which is a teacher training college, contacted Kainos asking if we could support someone to train student teachers in the fundamentals of programming. Aiming to essentially prepare them, not only for their first placement at a school, but to also prepare them for their later careers as educators and give them the necessary skills to be able to lead computing classes with confidence coupled with a background of knowledge they could rely on.
I was really eager to accept when I was asked as informing student teachers on how to best educate their pupils in computing was a cause I could really get behind.
For me it was initially a challenging but exciting experience; as the majority of my previous experiences have been teaching workshops to kids and teenagers much younger than me. I quickly found my feet and every class so far has really engaged with the materials including live coding, set exercises and just talking about what we think would happen if we changed one line into another line.
What really impressed me was how quickly the student teachers could grow from zero experience at all in programming to having the confidence to attempt challenges themselves! It was a genuinely rewarding experience.
I’m really looking forward to hearing how the student teachers take their skills forward to teach the next generation of programmers and I hope to make this a recurring activity with Stranmillis to continually open the avenue of programming to teachers who previously thought that it was impossible for them.