PAE Libraries kids learn to speak robot

Recently, the City of Port Adelaide Enfield Libraries (PAE Libraries) Digital Team visited The Lights Community and Sports Centre Youth Night. Bringing iPads to facilitate Learn to Speak Robot, children were given the opportunity to experience the challenge together.

Eliza Knowles, one of the PAE Libraries’ Digital Learning Officers had this to say about the Youth Night experience:

“There were eight kids who got to explore the [Commissioner’s] Digital Challenge for the first time, with many excited to jump in and give it a go. iPad’s are always a fun, creative and familiar way to improve digital skills, particularly with how accessible the Digital Challenge is on an iPad.”

Learn to Speak Robot, which teaches children digital and computational thinking skills, is proving popular with children who frequent PAE Libraries. Library Staff have been supporting young members to participate in the Commissioner’s Learn to Speak Robot Challenge since it was first launched in 2019. Through the challenge, kids are tasked with completing four digital activities included in activity hubs choosing from Hour of Code, CS Unplugged, Code Club, MakeCode, Grok Learning or the Digital Technologies Hub. Free themed activities are available and include some of the most popular franchises and video games such as Minecraft, Star Wars, Disney, and NBA.

PAE Libraries incorporated Learn to Speak Robot into their Code Club, which has been running for five years. Primarily aimed at younger audiences, the Code Club engages children to learn the basics of computational coding through games, activities, and animations. Each week, throughout the school term, members of the PAE Libraries’ Code Club spend an hour learning, exploring, and creating in code.

The initiative has proved extremely popular with term spots usually booking out in under 10 minutes. It has also led to the program being expanded to include three of the library branches across the City of PAE.

“Children are naturally drawn to technology – it’s exciting and fun as well as educational (sometimes without them knowing!). As children love to learn by doing, exploring input changes and seeing an end result, IT is naturally a great fit for this learning style.”

Kids enjoying coding on iPads at PAE Libraries

Learning digital skills is crucial for children and young people’s future. Not only will their lives and experiences include technology in predictable ways, but the unpredictable nature of technology means that being able to adapt quickly is a necessity. Teaching kids’ digital skills early is an important head-start to preparing them for an increasingly digitised society.

“As we move forward, Digital Literacy and IT skills become ever more important. We are living in a rapidly changing digital world and if we want to close the digital divide that exists in the community and prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow, teaching these skills from an early age is a step in the right direction.”

The jobs of the future are also becoming highly digitised. Whether it’s using computers to operate machinery, programming software, or creating content. Understanding the foundations of technology ensures children can participate in solving the problems facing the world and in their day-to-day lives.

“More and more schools, businesses and organisations are digitally transforming their services. Giving children a head-start to ensure they can continue to participate in all aspects of society as they grow is crucial.”

Kid coding Minecraft with iPad at PAE Libraries

Video games such Minecraft and Roblox have become very popular among children. Skills that are used in professions like content creators, game designers and developers are just some of the areas children find particularly interesting. By experiencing these snippets of how digital technology works, they learn the building blocks of coding and design. Not only can they begin to appreciate and create the content and the games they love, but they are also engaged while doing so.

“Playing with a device to customise it to their liking, coding a game or interactive experience often results in high engagement and enthusiasm.”

Learn to Speak Robot is a great entry point for first time coders. It is also easy to integrate programs in libraries, schools, at home and other youth-based organisations. There is also a suite of extended resources available specially curated to appeal to children.

“The [Commissioner’s] Learn to Speak Robot Challenge was really easy to incorporate into our Code Club. It has been great for both the children that are new to coding and the children who have been coding for a while (as the levels get slightly harder). The challenge of completing four activities and receiving a certificate also gets the kids very excited!”

Engaging young audiences at local libraries can be hugely beneficial. The wealth of knowledge and expertise available at SA libraries helps to build children’s connections to their local community. Children are also incredibly intuitive and can discuss emerging technologies with libraries.

“Libraries need to stay on top of the trends and develop relationships with their local youth to stay ‘in the know’. Ensuring that children are engaged in ways that
interests them is an important step in the learning process. For children to learn best, they need to be interested in what they are learning. Making it fun and engaging by using relevant and engaging topics, methods and brands can draw children to want to learn.”

PAE Libraries engage young people with digital technologies by taking a multi-faceted approach. Using different methods to engage young audiences, PAE Libraries ensures that young audiences have a say in what they learn and have begun empowering youth to develop their own programs with guidance and support.

“We engage youth through Digital Literacy in a variety of ways including Coding, eSports, multimedia content creation and the Digital Library resources. We even have a group of youth called the ‘Youth Action Team’ that came about because of our eSports programs. They are now developing their own programs with our help.”

Kids using iPads at PAE Libraries

Children involved have had great experiences with challenge activities included in Learn to Speak Robot. Specifically, kids at the Code Club at Greenacres all completed Learn to Speak Robot and have chosen to continue their learning journeys by taking Hour of Code Challenges for fun.

“In Term 3 this year, all 10 children in the Greenacres Code Club completed the Learn to Speak Robot Challenge. Many of the children are still using the Hour of Code Challenges as they enjoy them so much!”

Library registrations for Learn to Speak Robot never close with all three of the Commissioner’s Digital Challenges free and open to everyone all year round.

Find out more about Learn to Speak Robot for Libraries and Community Groups here

Find out about programs on offer at PAE Libraries here