Sharing How to Code with Youths

Taylor’s University students lend their expertise to teach primary, secondary and tertiary students to speak code during Microsoft’s #WeSpeakCode campaign

Taylor’s University School of Computing & IT joined forces with Microsoft’s ‘Code for Malaysia ’ – taglined #WeSpeakCode – a nationwide movement inspired by Code.org’s successful ‘Hour of Code’ global campaign encouraging youths to learn basic computer programming. Also known as its collective term ‘Asia Pacific Week of Code’ in this region, the week long campaign commenced from Saturday, 19 April 2014 to Sunday, 27 April 2014 – gaining support from other countries like Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand.

In Malaysia, running at the forefront to teach youths ranging from primary to University students were the ‘Elite Team’ which consisted of 12 Taylor’s University students, championed by Danaraj Ram Kumar, currently pursuing his degree in Bachelor of Software Engineering (Hons) at Taylor’s.
 

“I was approached by Mandeep Kaur and Ian Su - Microsoft’s Community Affairs Manager and Technical Evangelist – to lead the event diagnostics and was given the opportunity to create a training team with my fellow course mates. I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the great initiative as I love sharing knowledge and looked to nurture others as much as possible, particularly in Microsoft software and data platform in Computer Science,” he said.

Working faithfully alongside Danaraj was his Assistant and Lead Trainer, Ting Shi Chuan – currently pursuing his degree in the Bachelor of Software Engineering. However, learning to train was no easy feat – “A good learner does not always mean a good teacher. It was not easy trying to conduct a training session in front of the classroom, let alone the whole lecture theatre. We were the first few to be trained and it was our job to train the other trainers, which gave me ample practice and receiving encouraging feedback motivated me to improve,” he said.
 

Taylor’s University played host to Sekolah Menegah Kebangsaan Kajang and its own students for a one day workshop designed to break the computer programming ‘code’. The participating school and tertiary students learned state-of-the-art programming skills and developed their own mobile application within a two-hour period. Code.org’s ‘Hour of Code’ aims to introduce computer programming to 10 million students and encourage them to learn programming. It is a one-hour basic introduction to Computer Science, designed to demystify ‘code’ and prove that anyone can learn the fundamentals of computer programming.

Another Taylor’s University student, Nur Athirah binti Zolkefli, currently pursuing her degree in the Bachelor of Computer Science (Computer Security and Forensics), enthusiastically joined the team with an aim to gain new experiences, skills and knowledge. “When the opportunity presented itself, I thought I had the privilege to change the mindsets and common misperceptions of Computer Science. Never did my thoughts hold truer when we conducted the workshop at Sekolah Kebangsaan Taman Megah, where we taught 11-year-old students to code. The joy and excitement in their eyes as well as enthusiasm to learn more made me feel proud to be a part of this campaign,” she beamed.
 

Support for #WeSpeakCode extended to the Minister of Youth and Sports Malaysia, where he spent an hour learning to code from Danaraj at Putrajaya. “I taught him the fundamentals of computer programming, primarily focusing on Selection, Looping and Sequence. He could not contain his excitement when observing the execution of these control structure algorithms demonstrated via the application on the website. YB Khairy Jamaluddin was responsive and eager to know more advanced topics beyond what was covered during the session. To which, I taught him the basics of Windows Phone app development in Microsoft Visual Studio also learned about method calls (functions), coded in C# programming language when developing the Windows Phone demo app.”
 

Microsoft Malaysia and the Elite Team commenced the ‘Code for Malaysia’ campaign at KDU University, then proceeded to Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Kampar Campus), Taylor’s University, St. Mary’s School & Methodist Boys’ School, SK Taman Megah and Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC), before the closing ceremony at the Microsoft Malaysia office.