For the past two weeks I’ve been searching for and cataloguing all programming courses children ages 5 to 18 can take, either in Sydney physically, or online. This inquiry was conducted for two reasons, firstly because I felt like I had missed out on some great opportunities when I was younger and am hoping that this list can help both parents and their children make the most of the opportunities available to them. Secondly, I wanted to see whether or not in 2015, girls and boys have equal opportunities to learn programming. View the Feb 2015 Sheet here View the most current version of the sheet here
From initial analysis, there are 23 coding programs, 21 unisex programs and 2 female only. Investigating each program, I can see that there is no obvious discrimination against girls attending any of the unisex programs; there are also two female only programs available and they are both free! which is awesome! From just looking at the data at the highest level of abstraction it could reveal that in fact boys are disadvantaged, being able to only attend 21 out of the 23 programs available, with girls being able to attend an additional 2 programs more than the boys.
Off Topic Rant
I do have a certain amount of angst against female only programs, to sum it up, I am okay with their existence just as long as the same opportunity is available to boys too. For example, “Rails Girls” teaches Ruby on Rails and Web Development. From what I can see, this is the only physical program whereby a child can go somewhere in Sydney to learn Ruby on Rails. The program is offered to Females first, with Males being given consideration to attend after girls, which is quite nice of Rails Girls considering their event is targeted at women only, however, there are no other options for boys to learn Ruby on Rails, where they are given equal status as females are. I am trying to word this very carefully to not offend anyone, and have just realised that my phrase “to sum it up” is actually quite ironic. I will make an additional piece of writing concerning my qualms over gender equality in the future.
Total Price Distribution
Back to analysing the data, over a quarter (26.1%) of programs offered are for free, the rest costing varying amounts of money. From an initial view, there seems to be a decent percentage of free programs. I don’t know if there is any government funding for these programs, or if in other places around the country/world, more of these programs are free. Therefore I cannot make any sort of comment past my initial view.
Total Age Distribution
Sorting the courses by Age, we can see that the collection ranges from ages 5 to 18 and older. The most interesting part of the data is that at the ages of 16, 17 and 18, students have the most opportunity to attend these courses, being able to attend 16 out of the 23 available. This is probably a typical distribution as most kids on average start to figure out their passions as they mature, from the ages of around 16 and up. I am surprised at the number of courses offered to younger students, it’s fantastic to see kids being able to start learning a really useful skill and way of thinking at such a young age.
Total Duration Distribution
I’ve separated each of the programs according to duration, here are the results. As you can see, there is a decent amount of variation between program duration. Short term programs (Day and Days) account for almost double the amount of Medium or Long term programs, which is understandable considering Short term programs are most likely far easier to organise and cheaper to run. I am impressed with the amount of Long term programs, coming in at 6 available.
Analysis of Short Term Age Distribution
The pattern for the Short term programs seem to follow the same as the total age distribution graph. The key difference however is that the end of the graph plateaus out, meaning a more equal opportunity for a larger number of ages. A total of 3 out of the 11 Short term courses are free, which I believe should be higher. Again, I don’t know if there is government funding for these types of programs, but perhaps there should be more funding, to allow more Short term programs to be free.
Analysis of Medium Term Age Distribution
For the Medium term, most ages seem to have equal access which is fantastic! Weirdly, the spike in program amount is situated at ages 10 and 11, which I cannot explain, nor think is important. A total of 3 out of the 6 programs are free which is really great to see.
Analysis of Long Term Age Distribution
The Long term distribution fit how I assumed, with more options being tailored towards older ages due to the likelihood of more attendance. However the odd piece of information is the lack of any options for 14 or 15 year old’s. The data I collected was purely from age ranges written on each respective website, It could be possible that 14 and 15 year old’s could attend some of these programs, however they were not advertised as such, which I think should be changed.
Analysis of Free Programs
There are a total of 6 free programs available, with all being categorised in either the Short or Medium term groupings. Sponsor funding and subsidising has allowed the Short term and some Medium term programs to be free of charge programs. The Self Paced programs are all online based and are free most likely due to the nature of free information and learning via the web. Long term programs are most likely quite expensive to run and therefore it is understandable why there are no Long term programs which are free. Do I think there should be more free Long term options? If there could be, great! But running a Long term program takes multiple people, Long term rent of a full location and a large amount of effort to run, if there could be a subsidies, perhaps by a company as large as Google, then that would be fantastic, otherwise, I believe that this arrangement is okay in this place in time. Age Distribution The age distribution of Free programs is remarkably similar to the Total Age Distribution, with 16, 17 and 18 year old’s each having equal access to the most programs available. Each age group, except 5 year old’s, have the opportunity to get involved at least one computing program for free, which is a fantastic milestone to reach.
The Next Step
So that was the data, now what? Well, I have two goals in mind. I want to find out the various gender attendance data for each program to see the ratio of girls to boys in the unisex programs available. However, just by myself I cannot do this and would be very grateful for anyone else to help me in my search. The second goal is the share this data to educators in the hope to allow them to create more programs to help improve the current state of programming education in Sydney and to share the data with parents and children so that they can make the most of these opportunities while they can. I don’t have the answer to the most optimum way of sharing this information, if someone would like to collaborate and provide assistance in this area then please feel free. These were all the programs I could find by myself over a couple of days. If someone reads this and notices that a program exists and wasn’t included in this ‘report’ then please notify me and we can work on including it into the list. However, I tried to search for programs as if I was a uninformed parent or teen, to see what others could find easily if they were interested in programming, and make this analysis more worthwhile.