During lunchtime, there’s always a bustle of activity at Xavier College’s Burke Hall campus in Kew and Kostka Hall campus in Brighton.
Students use their break to rehearse for the school band, train for their chosen sport, catch up with friends, do some extra study or even enjoy a bit of quiet time before their next class.
For Ben Traficante, who is now in year 10, lunchtimes at Burke Hall were a chance to learn more about technology and coding.
Ben helped set up Burke Hall’s Code Club three years ago, while he was a student at the campus.
“During my first two years at Xavier – years 5 and 6 – as part of the curriculum, ICT (information, communication and technology) was a compulsory subject where we learnt about very basic coding and the fundamentals of how computer programs work,” Ben says.
“As I moved into year 7, I started to become more interested in coding and wanted to learn more, so I started the Code Club with the help of two teachers and some of my close friends.”
Liv Cher is head of eLearning at Burke Hall. With co-ordinator Catherine Wissell, she runs the code club for students in the Middle Years (years 5-8).
It’s part of the school’s Middle Years STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning, where students are encouraged to become critical, creative and collaborative thinkers, problem solvers, makers and innovators.
“These attributes are essential for the citizens of the future,” Liv says.
She adds that Xavier College students start to learn about digital technologies in their early years, learning more as they progress through the school.
“At five years old, students are forming simple algorithms, programming robots, block coding and working with experts from industry to code in HTML,” she says.
“They use laptops and iPads to engage in technology-rich contexts in their learning across the curriculum.”
“There is a vast variety of technology available to students. What they use or where the focus lies, is highly dependent on the age, stage and learning context for each student and class.”
Liv says technology is an important part of the curriculum used to complement traditional learning at Xavier.
“We believe that it helps redefine learning opportunities for our students,” she says.
“From augmented reality to a variety of programmable robots, including Spheros, Lego Mindstorms, Dash and Dots, and Makey Makeys, there is a plethora of technology options for students to explore at Burke Hall.”
Students also work with Google’s Suite for Education to share, problem solve, evaluate peers’ work and advance class team ideas with ease.
“As a school that values international-mindedness, classes have worked on projects with schools in Poland and the US, through ePals and Skype,” Liv says.
Underpinning all of Xavier’s digital learning is a strong focus on being responsible and safe digital citizens.
“Xavier has engaged with the Alannah and Madeline Foundation’s eSmart Schools program.
“As a result, students have undertaken workshops in eSafety and have had the opportunity to work with experts in this area,” Liv says.
“Digital citizenship is promoted through the curriculum and students also work through the Alannah and Madeline Foundation’s digital licence framework to ensure the responsible, safe and ethical use of technology.”
Liv says while classes teach the skills needed to use and engage with technology, the Code Club allows students to explore and further a passion for coding.
Club members take on tasks to complete, including complex coding projects and creating working pieces of technology through programming robotic sensors.
Since starting, the Code Club has built a partnership with international software company Bluedot Innovation. Its experts have helped guide entrepreneurial students such as Ben and his friends in creating their own apps.
Ben, who is now at Xavier’s Senior Campus in Kew, has recently published three apps on Apple’s App Store.
One showcases a local building company, one is for gym users to access gym benefits and information, and the third is The Original Truth or Dare, a modern twist on the traditional game.
“On top of this, I have coded a few apps for school, including an app to teach students and teachers how to take advantage of the school’s learning management system,” Ben says.
While technology is obviously his passion, Ben is not exactly sure what he’ll do after finishing year 12.
He does, however, want the Code Club at Burke Hall to continue.
“Honestly, I don’t have a specific career in mind, but universities are saying that studying something in technology has so many pathways for jobs and careers in the future,” he says.
“The possibilities with technology are endless. That is what we’re seeing every single day, with something new being created, just like we were able to do in the Code Club.”
- 135 Barkers Road, Kew
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