A new club aiming to help people of all ages learn the secrets behind computer coding launches at the weekend.
The first meeting of the Isle of Man Code Club will take place at 4pm on Saturday (March 8) at The Forum on Mount Havelock, Douglas.
And the inaugural session will seek to outline the club’s objectives, gauge interest in what the organisers are trying to achieve as well as welcome volunteers willing to share their skills.
Owen Cutajar, who is head of digital strategy for software technology firm Webtech, is the driving force behind the project and spoke to the Examiner about coding and why it’s important.
‘Computer code is the set of instructions, or program, which tells a device what to do and how to behave,’ he explained. ‘It requires an understanding of the structure of a system, but all programming languages are built on similar concepts and ideas which give us the power to control the behaviour of a device.’
He added: ‘We are all affected by computers in some way – and as this technology becomes more pervasive, it’s important for people to have an understanding of how it works and to realise that these systems aren’t powered by magic, but are built and designed by ordinary people.’
It is this last point, where people should have the skills to manipulate their environment rather than be merely consumers, which forms the mission statement on the club’s website – codeclub.im
But in addition to this, Owen wants people to use the informal sessions to create a community of people eager to learn about and have fun with technology as well as share information, skills and ideas.
The club has been given enormous support by the Manx Education Foundation charity, and is able to use its Mount Havelock headquarters and equipment each Saturday between 4pm and 6pm. As things stand, membership for will be free, but this may change as the needs of the group alter over time.
The opening instructional session is scheduled to take place on Saturday, March 15 , and will follow the opening 10-week course available on the Code Club UK website.
There are six computers available at the MEF for the club to use. However, Owen wants as many people as possible to bring their own laptops, tablets and devices in order to accommodate more members.
He said: ‘This elementary coding class, called Beginner Scratch, is aimed at 9-11 year olds, but we are happy to include anyone who would like to learn and won’t be restricting it on age. We do have limited class sizes though, so please book early to avoid disappointment.
‘The really exciting thing about learning to code is that it isn’t very difficult.
‘It does require a little bit of patience and some time to put aside to learn what it’s all about, but it’s within reach with some direction on where to focus and what to practice.
‘This is the idea behind the Isle of Man Code Club: some of us already have coding skills, acquired either through work or play, and are looking to share them with others and teach people who would like to learn, so that they can go on to create their own software and build new things.’