I would like to work (paid employment) with a group to set up a group to support
or complement people who want to learn technical skills such as programming.

I would see this role as that of a learning facilitator and not as a teacher.

Computer programming is the “is the process of designing and building
an executable computer program for accomplishing a specific computing
task.” Wikipedia 2019 [1].

The Internet has opened up a world of learning, from websites such as Codecademy
[2] that can now take you, through interactive activities and help develop skills
in many different programming languages. To other sites that can teach you about
web site development. [3]. You can learn what you want without having to attend
college, which for some people could be a barrier.

These sites have forums so that learners can communicate with other learners and
in some cases get help from tutors on the site. All you generally need is a
computer and Internet connection. The advantage with these sites is you can login
from anywhere.

What happens if you can’t afford a computer, you may have a tablet or smart phone
but this may not be ideal for spending hours learning, esp when there is a lot of
typing as part of the activities. As well as switching between normal characters
(A-Z) and other Characters such as (< > / \). So a keyboard can really help here.

My solution would be to work with an organization who can provide both a computer
suite and Internet access. Learners have a comfortable environment to
learn in, no pressure and and importantly at their own pace.

Even if you do have your own computer and Internet connection, learning on your
own requires a lot of motivation, The disadvantage is you don’t get face
to face communication with others. This does not help social skills and probably
fuels social isolation. Having contact with others, or the opportunity for this
at least makes you feel supported. Plus those people can help you with any other
issues (such as personal) issues that may arise. Learners should feel supported.

Given the number of websites offering this, there is a huge amount of choice.
Learners can also get access to advice on careers, job search, CV or LinkedIn
profile creation. You can also undertake other study to complement what you
are learning. For example learn to build a website that is both accessible to
all users but also safe and secure to use. Some of these are sometimes better
presented face to face. Group discussions are also very beneficial.

Opening doors.

There are many projects out there that need skilled IT people. Some are paid and
others are voluntary, with the former (or even latter of the two) you
generally need experience. How can you get this? Without being stuck in the usual
catch 22 situation.

Free software projects are always looking for people to get involved. “Debian
[4] is a free [5] operating system (OS) for your computer. An operating system
is the set of basic programs and utilities that make your computer run. ”

There are lots of opportunities to get involved with this, for example,
Testing, user documentation, taking screen shots, developing software, bug fixing
and many more. [6]. The community is very supportive, or should be. So as long
as you are willing to learn then the community should be able to help you. You
can then use on line resources to help develop the required skills. By being
active in the community people get to know you, your skills and more
opportunities may present them selves, and hopefully having something such as
“Debian Developer” on your CV will look good to employers.

With websites such as EdX [7] you can gain some really useful accreditation.
In some cases you can study for free, however you can also pay a fee and get
a certificate at the end, which again would form a very valuable addition to
your CV and Portfolio. A list of the EdX computer Science courses can be found
at [8]

The Introduction to Linux course [9] could be very here.

Online learning offers real opportunity to develop real skills. If as part of
working with other groups, perhaps we can apply for funding, especially if the
client group can demonstrate a commitment to e-learning there is no reason why
funding can’t be found to help specific groups achieve these outcomes.

All that is needed then is for local employers to take these seriously, however
with the group based learning we can provide references, observation and evidence
to tell these employers that this persons IS very dedicated and hard working.

Self directed learning also allows you to fit study around your life. So you can
combine work and study for example.

Learners are NOT limited to computer science and can in fact study a much
wider range of subjects depending on a combination of personal interest,
career requirements.

You can also study for a degree with the Open university [10] or get a feel for
university level study with OpenLearn [11]. In fact OpenLearn also offer courses
to help you develop the study skills needed for post graduate study. Again
if there was a facility available to support these learners too, then it may
really benefit the community and allow people to still build up these skills
without going to college, hence the same doors are open to them.

References

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_programming
2. https://www.codecademy.com/
3. https://www.freecodecamp.org/
4. https://www.debian.org/
5. https://www.debian.org/intro/free
6. https://www.debian.org/intro/help
7. https://www.edx.org/
8. https://www.edx.org/course/subject/computer-science
9. https://www.edx.org/course/introduction-to-linux
10.http://www.open.ac.uk/
11.https://www.open.edu/openlearn/

 

This could also be expanded to sign post. promote and support people taking part in

Google Summer of Code and Google Code In

However this would be supportive and not take the place of the mentoring or mentors that are used by the above initiatives.