Code Nation’s Response to COVID-19 – Fostering A Virtual Learning Community

Amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis and global pandemic, Code Nation’s top priority is ensuring the health and safety of our students, staff, volunteers, and extended community of supporters. As public health crises like this one tend to disproportionately affect the communities we serve, Code Nation remains committed to equipping students with the skills, connections, and opportunities that together create access to careers in tech.

In following recommendations of U.S. health officials and school districts, we have postponed all large events, including our New York City Hackathon, originally scheduled for March 21st, and we have worked to quickly transition our programs to remote learning models. Our goal, while keeping our community healthy, is to maintain consistency and tech engagement opportunities for our students during this unprecedented crisis.

Here’s what’s happening in the Code Nation (online) community:

  • Our school-based Intro to Web Development Programs have implemented several distance learning models. Our targeted plans are individualized per the needs of each of our partner schools. In many of our programs, students attend remote live classes via Google Hangouts. Some students access recorded webinars of our HTML, CSS, and JavaScript Curriculum as well as weekly coding challenges and mentor feedback via Google Classroom.
  • Coding Fellowships have transitioned into remote classrooms smoothly, as all students have a Code Nation laptop on loan and all students and instructors are already familiar with a screen-based curriculum. Professional skill building, like resume coaching, is held in virtual breakout rooms where students receive individualized support from their industry mentors.
  • Volunteers and Code Nation Program Managers have organized virtual office hours, held over Google Hangouts or Slack, for students to receive coding help, professional mentorship, and check in with their tech mentors.
  • Students are receiving weekly Code Nation newsletters to keep them connected and engaged while we are out of the classroom. Newsletters include coding & skills activities, local resources, and student & volunteer spotlights aimed to foster community across our three regions.
  • Code Nation is delivering remote support to our education partners who are adjusting to distance learning models in their own classrooms. We are offering free virtual learning training and resources to our teacher liaisons and their networks to support them in navigating digital classroom models.

While our staff and volunteers miss being in the classroom with students, fostering a digital community of learners has been a bright spot during a difficult time. After piloting an online Fellowship class last week, one volunteer reflected on the experience, “I was a little bit apprehensive around how it might work in terms of student engagement and potential tech hurdles, but honestly, I think there were some plusses. Breaking out into smaller groups and sharing screens created an even more engaging session with less distractions. The work we’re doing creating some sense of normalcy and staying steadfast in our mission even in this wild time is more valuable now than ever.”

Especially in such times of uncertainty, Code Nation remains committed to our students and our mission. We are endlessly grateful to our community for standing with students, schools, and families as we navigate this difficult time together.  Code Nation stands in solidarity with communities that are experiencing increased racism and xenophobia as a result of stigma and with the vulnerable communities most affected by the outbreak.

We look forward to re-opening the doors of our classrooms nationwide, but for now, we’ll stay connected as a virtual community of learners, mentors, and changemakers.

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