Written by: Mica on November 17, 2020Tags: Meet the Mentors, Teen, Women in Tech
‘Feedback is using your experience to help someone else gain some valuable experience too. Feedback is having someone’s back so that they repeat the positive and change the negative’ – Jim Joseph
From April of this year until May, we introduced our first-ever online #TechForGood programme to 21 teens. With the passion, experience and patience of three industry mentors, our first taste of being a virtual learning provider was a huge success.
Not only did being online allow us to reach teens from all over the UK (22 different areas to be precise), but it allowed us to reach underprivileged teens, many of whom may not have had the opportunity otherwise.
That isn’t to say that our programmes went down without a hitch, in fact, far from it! From login lapses to bothersome bugs, the experience became a learning curve for us, and with the gift of feedback from our mentors, students and guardians, we were able to improve the learning experience for everyone!
Here’s what’s changed:
We had an aim to make an even bigger impact and work with more students from Co-op Academies. Having already tested our virtual programme with small cohorts of up to 10 students, we were confident in our approach, meaning that we were happy to offer the opportunity to even more teens at once. For our next cohort (launching today), we’ll be working with up to 5 Coop Academy schools across Greater Manchester, Liverpool and Bradford. The benefit to this is that students across the North West will be studying together online! In fact, originally we had planned to deliver this in schools face to face, so we’re excited to be offering this opportunity virtually instead.
In a virtual format, we realised we only needed one industry mentor to inspire the students. We have a growing bank of role model videos which the students are also invited to engage with. This means that they can ‘meet’ many more role models in a variety of different careers. We found that this was an excellent way of providing career mentoring, as the students learn about each role model’s journey into tech and what they love about their job.
Llara Geddes will be the industry mentor for our next cohort. This is her ‘Meet the mentor’ video, just one of many on our YouTube channel!
We trialled doing live sessions online and whilst it is more impactful, it is difficult to organise for larger numbers of students from multiple schools and homes. We are maintaining some live elements to the programme, such as the intro session and streams with mentors on Instagram. The remaining lessons will be pre-recorded so that it is more flexible and can be completed at any time. Teachers and students alike have told us that they prefer the flexibility of this format. Video content is good for visual and audio learning styles too, we mix this up with other formats to encompass all preferences and learning styles within our virtual programmes.
We have a large network of schools and teachers after working with them for the past 4 years. We work closely with teachers to help us identify learners. This means we can identify students who need our programmes the most. Teachers also tell us where the ‘gaps’ are in their curriculum and careers provision which helps us when we are designing content as we understand their needs better. We’ve also recently started working with parents again, which is a joy, as they are always so thankful for the extracurricular opportunities we’re providing – particularly during the pandemic when homeschooling was prevalent.
2020 has been difficult for everyone. For us, COVID19 meant that we were unable to deliver our educational programmes face to face in schools, which in turn, prompted our quick transition into an online learning platform. It has been the un withering support of our network which has allowed us to embark on this journey. Individual donors, teachers, our amazing web developer Steve, our industry mentors – when we list all of the people that have had our back through this transition, we are filled with gratitude. So, a huge thank you to you all, and here’s to a better 2021.
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