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LIBRARIES UNLIMITED: LEARN PROGRAMMING AND IoT IN LIBRARIES!

LIBRARIES UNLIMITED: LEARN PROGRAMMING AND IoT IN LIBRARIES!

Background information

Libraries Unlimited (LU) is a five year programme implemented by the British Council and Department of Public Libraries (DPL) under the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Bangladesh. One of the objectives of this programme is to introduce state of the art educational technologies at public libraries in Bangladesh and spread programming mainly among children by introducing DIY (Do it Yourself) toolkits like the Kano Computer and the micro:bit in various public libraries. The LU programme has also partnered up with Bangladesh Shishu Academy and can use their venues to conduct coding workshops.

The micro:bit was launched in 2015 under the BBC’s Make it Digital initiative to encourage young people to study science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects. It measures only 4cm by 5 cm and can be connected to devices such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi using Bluetoth Smart technology. One can also transmit data packets between micro:bits. This feature can be used to teach young coders and children about how the internet works, and how to deploy IoT sensor networks. Anyone can start coding in micro:bit immediately by accessing their website (makecode.microbit.org) from any device (Laptop, Desktop, Smart Phone, Tab etc.). The code can then be transferred to the micro:bit via USB. Micro:bit  is very effective in introducing children to the world of programming and IoT, and the British council is pleased to be the first to introduce this to Bangladesh.

Kano is a DIY (Do It Yourself) computer toolkit that anyone can make. It's the simplest way for anyone to build a computer and learn to code. The kit comes with a Raspberry Pi 3, plug-and-play components, a step-by-step storybook, and dozens of hours of coding challenges. As is the case with micro:bit, British Council has introduced Kano to Bangladesh through its LU programme.

What we did

The first coding workshop was held on September 4 2018 at the Munshiganj Public Library. Over 150 children, aged from 10 to 16, attended the programme and had the opportunity to get introduced to programming using the latest educational technologies. The event marked the introduction of the micro:bit and Kano in a public library in Bangladesh and provided a preview of these devices before they get introduced to other public libraries. The devices will be rolled out nationwide to public libraries as an open resource for individual library users and teaching organisations.

The event was extremely well attended and we received a fantastic response from the participants, teachers and librarians alike. This success is marked as a reference point while spreading similar workshops nationwide.

The second workshop was held at Dhaka Sufia Kamal National Public Library premises on September 26. It was equally well attended; more than 150 children from different schools of Dhaka participated in the workshop with great enthusiasm.  A third workshop was held in Rangpur at the WoW (Women of the World) festival on October 4 followed by a fourth workshop again in Dhaka on October 24. From November 10 to 14, Cox’s Bazar, Bandarban, Rangamati and Chittagong respectively will be introduced to these devices

Outcome

“Today’s coding workshop was totally different and will greatly help me to develop knowledge about technology. I am really happy to take part in this workshop.” said Hridita Hasan, a 14 year old participant. Md. Nazmul Hasan, 14 years old, commented “I’ve never done computer programming before; it felt really good doing it for the first time. I want to do this in the future as well.”

Ms Rafia Sultana, librarian of the Munshiganj Public Library said “The programming workshop is a great initiative and this type of program will have a great impact in changing the common perception of libraries and publicise the library as a centre for interactive learning.”

Other participants had similar comments and expressed their gratitude for giving them the opportunity to participate in such an event. They hoped that these events will become more frequent and spread across the country in the future.

The way forward

The Munshiganj coding workshop was appreciated by the participants, teachers and the librarians. It is worth mentioning that 55% of the total participants were female. The feedback received from the workshop have been analysed and will now be used as a basis to modify the future workshops. Introductory workshops will be organized in different parts of the country in the near future. Eventually, the introduction of these devices, along with long term coding courses will be rolled out. These courses will be guided by volunteers from the Bangladesh Open Source Network(BDOSN)