Commissioner for Children and Young People, Helen Connolly has today announced key outcomes of her ‘Learn to Speak Robot’ Commissioner’s Digital Challenge. Participation was robust with an estimated 19,026 South Australian children completing the Challenge in its inaugural year.

This figure represents 217 public and independent schools and 31 public libraries around the State, and equates to approximately one third of primary and combined schools. Of these, 27% of the overall number of participants came from regional schools with 23% from South Australia’s remote area schools. The vast majority of schools are expected to register for the Challenge again in 2020 with positive feedback received from students who participated (see a selection of children’s testimonials below).

Adelaide’s Thorndon Park Primary School were chosen as recipients of the major digital reward – a new school website donated by project supporters EWS – when one of their students had this to say about their experience: “Although I wasn’t that interested in things like coding at first, experimenting with Grok and Code.org has made me insanely interested in a future of technology and even an education career in it. So, thank you!”

The Commissioner’s Digital Challenge is not a competition, but is designed to encourage children of all ages in South Australia to increase their uptake of digital skills. It is made available FREE to schools, community groups, libraries and families via a dedicated website (commissionersdigitalchallenge.net.au) where hundreds of digital activities curated with input from some of Australia’s (and the world’s) leading digital industry players can be accessed with ease. They include activities from Microsoft’s MakeCode, Code.org’s Hour of Code, Grok Learning, Digital Technologies Hub, CS Unplugged and Code Club Australia. Digital rewards donated by Microsoft, JB HI-FI Solutions, Grok Learning, Advanced Technology Project and Thinkfun Games were awarded to schools and libraries submitting the best testimonials. Strong support for the Challenge has also been provided by Girl Guides, Scouts, Children’s University Adelaide, Public Library Services SA, EdTechSA, the Australian Computing Academy and the Computer Science Education Research Group.

‘Learn to Speak Robot’ re-opens on Day 1 of Term 1 in 2020, at which time the second challenge in the series will also be launched; a Mars-themed design thinking challenge called ‘Space to Dream’. ‘Space to Dream’ is designed to encourage children to ‘lean in’ to their innate creativity and limitless potential. In 2021, the Challenge will expand to include systems thinking, digital literacy and digital citizenship components, with these programs being developed hand in glove with industry to ensure relevance to technological changes and advancements occurring in real time.

Details of which SA schools received Digital Challenge rewards: commissionersdigitalchallenge.net.au/digital-thinking/schools-winners/

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