About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 4427-4433
Publication year: 2015
ISBN: 978-84-606-8243-1
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain


M. Kennedy

Abbotsleigh School for Girls (AUSTRALIA)
Coding has an image problem. Teenage girls just don't do it. In New South Wales Australia, the percentage of female students who learn coding at matriculation level compared to male students is at historic lows. In the 2014 Higher School Certificate (HSC) matriculation exam for the subject Software Design and Development only 6% of the candidature were female, a total of 111 students from a total HSC cohort of 69 346 students, 51% of whom were female. (BOSTES 2014). If the statistics quoted related to traditional print literacy there would be an uproar at the gender disparity. Yet, in relation to the most important element of digital literacy: coding, we're experiencing barely a murmur.

The final frontier of digital literacy is coding. With skill in coding comes the power to create the interaction, communication and information spaces of the future. Girls cannot be left out because of misconceptions, assumptions and a hyper-masculine coding culture.They need to know that Ada Lovelace, daughter of the renowned poet Lord Byron, is considered to be be the world's first computer programmer and that a US Cosmopolitan article declared computer programming as a valued career opportunity for women in the 1960s (Frink 2011). They need to learn that coding is possible for them.

Within their peer group girls see coding as a 'nerdy, boy thing'. Inspired by the work of Girls Who Code (https://girlswhocode.com/) and Google's Made with Code https://www.madewithcode.com/) we set out to smash those perceptions within our Year 7 English classes for 12- 13 year old girls. Why English classes? Why not? Coding is traditionally linked to Mathematics and the Sciences, often viewed as 'boy subjects'. In choosing English to introduce these concepts we sought to break down this stereotype.

We aimed to show how coding, like poetry, is about thinking and making ideas come to life using techniques and tools. A series of Nearpod (www.nearpod.com) questionnaires established their prior knowledge and provoked heated discussions. From there students used an interactive OneNote sequence to investigate the intersections between the arts of poetry and coding including creating poems, researching communication methods and ranking the digital technologies they rely on everyday. Students explored how coding derives from rules of logic, especially, 'If this happens, then that'. We then explored the links between poetry and coding to create computer games, using MIT's powerful Scratch programming language (https://scratch.mit.edu/), that tested our understanding of poetry. Our reflection activities involved playing the games together and collecting qualitative data about their efficacy through surveys, anecdotes and observations.

By designing, developing and debugging our girls have the power to change their own world.

[1] BOSTES, 2014, '2014 HSC Course Enrolments', http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/news-media/media-guide-2014/stats/enrolments-course.html, viewed 22 March 2015.
[2] Frink 2011, 'Researcher reveals how “Computer Geeks” replaced “Computer Girls”' Stanford University, http://gender.stanford.edu/news/2011/researcher-reveals-how-%E2%80%9Ccomputer-geeks%E2%80%9D-replaced-%E2%80%9Ccomputergirls%E2%80%9D#sthash.2R1IAIUr.dpuf, viewed 22 March 2015.
author = {Kennedy, M.},
series = {7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN15 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-606-8243-1},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {6-8 July, 2015},
year = {2015},
pages = {4427-4433}}
AU - M. Kennedy
SN - 978-84-606-8243-1/2340-1117
PY - 2015
Y1 - 6-8 July, 2015
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN15 Proceedings
SP - 4427
EP - 4433
ER -
M. Kennedy (2015) HOW IS POETRY LIKE CODING?, EDULEARN15 Proceedings, pp. 4427-4433.