After 5 years of running DigiLocal clubs in close partnership with communities, the Conoavirus pandemic has meant we’ve had to move online.
Google Suite for Education is a substantial enterprise-grade package that 10’s of millions of businesses, schools, colleges, universities, and public administrations use around the world. Over time we’ll be rolling out integration of more G Suite applications, but for now we’re focusing on 3 mains apps; Calendar, Zoom, and Slack. Zoom and slack aren’t from Google but there is great integration to ensure that our young people are part of a secure and protected online space.
How are sessions organised
We’re using Google Classroom to organise young people by technology and progression level. Based on our popular LINKS Awards, we’re grouping by White, Yellow, Blue, and extra.
This means that young people are working with others at a similar experience level to themselves (regardless of age). It also means that our volunteers can more quickly support people as they’re not having to think across +100 projects in Scratch and Python!
The other great advantages of classrooms is that we can support chat about specific projects in the class stream. This is in parallel to slack that we’re also using for more social chat.
Classrooms allows young people to ‘hand their work in’ once they’ve finished a project. This is a great way to acknowledge completion and achievement. When young people have finished all the projects at their level, we can celebrate that and progress them to the next colour.
When do sessions take place
We’ll be using Google Calendar to promote and organise sessions.
Young people can see the shared calendars we have set up to communicate sessions, but can’t add / edit the events. Young people receive email invitations to events from the Ambassadors as they create sessions when they are available. Young people are not expected to attend every event, pick and choose those that suit your current schedule and other schooling activities.
If an event is about to start and there is only one volunteer ambassador available, it will be cancelled. This is for the young people’s safety and compliance with our Safeguarding policy. Some events will be cancelled at short notice, this can’t be helped and I apologise for any inconvenience.
We are a micro-charity and reliant on volunteers to run sessions, and everyone’s diary is in a state of change at the moment.
What happens in a session
Once a session starts, young people can open the video conferencing platform the volunteers selected when creating the event. Webcams must be turned off.
Using Google Meet through the Classrooms link means that young people can’t join a Meet before the volunteers, and can’t rejoin once everyone has left. Attendance is also locked to people from our own @digilocal.org.uk domain, so we have a secure, walled garden for young people to discover their own journey in tech.
Remember that DigiLocal is to support young people developing their problem solving skills and building resilience. We do this through our project guides for coding. We have loads of guides saved on G Drive, and will be launching Classrooms for specific DigiLocal LINKS awards shortly.
When folks have problems that can’t be quickly diagnosed over voice, Meet has very good screen sharing function so we can see what the young person is looking at. Remember to stop screen sharing once things are resolved.
Never drop out of the group session into a 1-2-1 video chat with an ambassador.
When their session is over, folks should get up and stretch their legs. Staying physically healthy is as important as staying mentally healthy.
What happens between sessions
We are using slack for text chatting between video sessions. Young people sign-in with Google and use your digilocal.org.uk account.
There will be a verification email sent to the young person’s digilocal.org.uk account in G Suite, and they will be granted access. This double verification is a vital part of our safeguarding and ensuring that only DigiLocal volunteers and young people are in the chat.
We’ve got many channels within slack (general chat, python, scratch, roblox, etc). Young people cannot add channels. Slack should be a fairly informal space that folk can chat to each other without feeling like they’re at school or in a structured sessions. Slack does support posting code snippets (it’s very widely used in the tech industry as an alternative to email).
We are grateful for the support of the Quartet Community Foundation – Coronavirus Response Fund in helping to support this activity.