Hour of Code is helping everyone from around the world learn the basics of coding. In Singapore, senior citizens are receiving a helping hand.

M. Shazni  |  Singapore
Published 2017-11-01 17:12:59

Coding is often associated with the young, usually those in the tertiary levels.

In Singapore, the coding community is getting younger as primary and secondary schools integrate introductory coding classes into the curriculum.

But the truth is, everyone can code.

Back in WWDC, we met up with 10-year-old Yuma Soerianto and 82-year-old Masako Wakamiya. Despite both being on opposite ends of the age spectrum, they have one thing in common – they are passionate self-taught coders, using Swift to develop apps.

But for everyone else who still feel unsure about going into coding?

That’s where Hour of Code can come in.

This is global movement aimed at introducing coding to anyone and everyone, making it accessible at all ages, for all students, regardless of background. 

The goal of these classes is to not unearth the next chart-topping app developer, because after all, each session only lasts an hour.

It is in this one hour that participants can learn about the basics of computer science and how it can be fun, and hopefully, they will move forward to dedicated coding classes to further develop their newfound interests.

Hour of Code for Seniors

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It is in these spirit of things that the Infocomm and Media Development Authority (IMDA) is partnering with the National Library Board (NLB) to empower more seniors with an interest in coding.

Over this past weekend, the Hour of Code for Seniors was held across 16 libraries across Singapore and attended by more than 500 senior citizens.

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Armed with the Swift Playgrounds app on provided iPad devices, the seniors were accompanied by over 500 students from Admiralty Secondary School, who guided them in these hour-long workshops.

While the program will be supported by the students, the workshop itself will be facilitated and led by the Silver Infocomm Wellness Ambassadors (SIWAs).

Being senior citizen themselves, the SIWAs have gone through trainings in Swift Playgrounds prior to these classes, while being able step in to assist the student volunteers should their senior partners have difficulty understanding the lessons.

Checking One Out At The Bedok Public Library

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This past weekend too was the re-opening of the Bedok Public Library at its new location in Heartbeat@Bedok, and as part of opening celebrations, saw the launch of several workshops for varied age groups.

There were of course many Smart Nation initiated programmes as well, especially those targeted at the silver generation.

Hour of Code for Seniors was one of them.

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At the session in the Bedok Public Library even Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications & Information, dropped by to join the class and joining the other seniors for a first-hand experience of Swift Playgrounds.

It is experiencing these sessions realtime that you can truly have a grasp of how truly diverse the demographic of people (seniors especially) who are willing to take the first step into coding.

Swift Playgrounds As The Perfect Bridge Across Generations

Swift Playgrounds
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Perhaps a big reason reason why this is possible is the medium of coding which was picked.

When you think about coding, the first thing that pops into the minds of most people would definitely be the endless command lines within a window.

While that is indeed still the reality of coding today, the basics of it should definitely be newbie-friendly – exactly what Swift Playgrounds is.

In Swift Playgrounds, coding is a game with varying levels both online and offline.

One can start off with the many 3D games that are available in-app, and as you move to the harder levels, you can even program real-life objects such as Lego Mindstorm sets, and even the R2-D2 droid by Sphero.

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Back to Hour of Code for Seniors, Swift Playgrounds presents an opportunity to not overwhelm older participants with the traditional way of learning how to code.

In the app, you will be greeted with bright, colourful panels and games, as you traverse through the different levels while learning the basis of Swift.

Through the various stages, you will be introduced to characters that look as if they belong in a Pixar film, and you will be given objectives to complete as you write lines of code to complete the level.

If you are interested in the Hour of Code sessions, be sure to check out their website for other classes in Singapore as it is not a permanent feature for the libraries.

For Swift Playgrounds specifically, you may also check out Today at Apple held at Apple Orchard Road.

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