Learning Something New

With exam results just out and the new term looming, we have been thinking about how we improve our training courses. How do we help more people to learn new digital skills. Since people learn in various ways and everyone is different, there are always ways we can improve how we help people to learn.

We’re all different

This highlights one of the biggest ways to increase the effectiveness of a learning experience which is by tailoring it. When we start a training course we want to know who we are training. This helps us to adjust what we say and do to cater for the needs of the individuals. If needed, we can move at a faster pace or go over topics in more depth to increase the understanding.


Getting to know people helps us understand what their motivations are for undertaking the course or qualification. Motivation is a key aspect of learning. If you aren’t motivated to learn, there is no one who can make you retain knowledge and understanding. Also, sometimes people aren’t aware of their motivations. Helping them to know why they are doing something can, in itself, increase their motivation. If a person is motivated then it becomes our job to encourage and inspire them to continue the process. This makes it more enjoyable for us and the learners.

Keep it Real

One more thing that we want to continue improving is how to make our training real. It can be difficult to learn something when you don’t see the reason for learning it. By looking at practical implementations and real world scenarios, we can help people to see how they can actually use what they are learning. Most people don’t learn for the sake of learning, they have a goal. Helping them to achieve that goal is our goal and we want to continue improving how we do that.

Don’t forget to check out our courses and see if there is a way we can help you achieve a goal.

Coding Competitions and Hackathons

Over the past couple of months we have had the opportunity to judge a couple of coding competitions and hackathons for local secondary school students through the I’m Happy Project.

The competitions have involved using MIT App Inventor to create apps around a theme or on a subject that the students enjoy.


It goes a bit like this. The students get some instructional workshops on how to use MIT App Inventor and how to go about planning, designing and implementing an app. They then break off into teams and each team has to produce an app within an allotted time period. The apps are then presented to a judging panel and the team is awarded scores for the idea, app content, design, presentation and teamwork. Usually, there are prizes for the winning team or teams.

Students presenting app
Students presenting their app

There are lots of other events of this type organised across the tech sector in various forms. Hackathons, coder coops, code jams and competitions run by companies and other industry sectors are some of the other structures that these events take. Some are privately run and invite only, some are run by educational institutions or charities and lots are organised by people from the tech community.

They present a fantastic opportunity for students and professionals alike. It creates or presents a real problem that may have no current solution or the solution can be improved with the use of technology. Participants experience the whole process from beginning to end, working in a team and eventually producing a functional solution. It inspires creativity and innovation, encourages cooperation and relationships and produces some great solutions to problems that our world wants solving.

For anyone willing to learn, they should definitely look  around for these types of events happening in their local communities.

I'm Happy Project students
I’m Happy Project students

To all the students we have seen over the last couple of months, well done and keep it up! For those who haven’t done it yet…. Get coding!

Bring IT On

This week we had the opportunity to deliver a workshop on building a website to Year 8, 9 and 10 pupils from three of our local secondary schools. The workshop was part of the Bring IT On programme which is Funded by the Department for the Economy to promote career opportunities in IT.

bring it on

The workshop we delivered was on building web sites. The kids also had workshops on building robots and video production. Events like these are wonderful opportunities to encourage students to consider a career in IT. It also shows them how important IT is in other industries, but why do we need to promote IT to young people?

Sync NI, one of our leading media outlets for technology, released an article last week that looked at this very issue. We have an environment where young people are completely immersed in technology sync ni articlewhether in school, at home or in social activities. The article says “just 12% of 15 to 18 year olds have received lessons on how to code computing languages at school”. This would indicate that we are showing our young people how to use technology but not how to create and improve it. If we are to continue to innovate and keep up with the world pace of technology, it is crucial that we understand how and, maybe even more importantly, why it works the way it does.

Encourage our young people to use technology? Yes, but more importantly, we should encourage them to understand it and ask why we use it. We can then help them to see if and how we can make it better.

A big thank you to Bring IT On and Northern Regional College for the opportunity to share and inspire students from local schools. Here are a few pictures from our website workshop and for more information see the links below.

web site workshop 4 web site workshop 3
web site workshop 2 web site workshop 1

Twitter Feed for bringitonni
Sync NI Article
Northern Regional College

NI Science Festival

Saturday was the NI Science Festival event in Coleraine hosted by Ulster University. It was a full day of demonstrations, workshops, talks and exhibitions. From virtual reality to making bath bombs, there was so much to see and do.

lego mindstorm
lego mindstorm navigating a maze

As soon as kids and parents entered they were faced with a robot that, for some of the kids, was the height of them. Many robots followed, from tiny buggies controlled by the BBC Micro:bit to £6000 NAO Evolution, a small humanoid robot used in research and education all round the world. The robotics workshop got the kids to programme a Lego Mindstorm robot to navigate a maze.

Ulster University had two lecturers to give a workshop on creating games using Gamemaker. Gamemaker is a game creation system that is easy to get to grips with but has the capability of producing complex and compelling games.

Wayne Denner and Meccano robot
Wayne Denner making friends with the Meccano robot

Social Media guru, Wayne Denner gave a fantastic talk on the dos and don’ts of social media. His style and enthusiam engages with both kids and parents and enables him to share important messages about how best to use social media and stay safe whilst doing so.

Capping off the day, there was a demonstration on 3D printing from the guys at the fab lab in Flowerfields Arts Centre. Throughout the day they had been printing keyrings, mini robot figures and even some spare parts for some of the robots on display.

There were lots of exhibitions from local schools, businesses and community groups. All ages of kids were getting involved and excited to be part of the event. It was fantastic to see the STEM sector represented with enthusiasm. Huge credit to the the I’m Happy Project team for organising such a great day.