Session 24: Making an interactive holiday card and starting our projects

We started today’s session with our weekly check-in and then moved on to make mind-maps of project ideas for the creative individual projects and to present the ideas to the group. Some of the young women decided to work in teams, others will develop their own individual projects. The projects are diverse and variable, ranging from designing games to website for travel adivce and an app with nutritional advice.

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As some of the projects will require advanced Scratch skills, we then continued for the remaining part of the session to refine our Scratch coding skills. To that purpose, we created an interactive holiday card with Scratch.

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Sabbah posted on her blog a description of her project and of today’s session (see her blogpost below). We will continue with our projects after we return from spring break in three weeks.

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From Sabbah’s Blog: Starting My Project!

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In todays Go Girl session I started my individual project of making a game using Scratch.

I brainstormed some ideas on a piece of paper of what I would like my game to be, then I worked with Niall and he helped me start the game off.

Next session I will continue to build the game up.

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Session 23: Journalling our Coding Experiences

As is tradition by now, we started today’s session with our usual weekly check-in. Julia, Sabbah and Shannon updated those who could not attend last week about the session and gave examples of the domain name they chose. We then had a discussion about what and what not might be useful things to post on our blogs for potential employers to see. Things like new skills acquired, program in our coding, visits to job fairs etc. might all be good things to put up there, even if it’s just a picture of a visit to a job fair.

Sabbah, Shannon and Julia, who had already set up their blogs, then proceeded to write their first blog posts, w hile Chloe, Rosie, Frances, Isabel and Charlotte went about to find a domain name and set up their own blogs. Sabbah’s blog can be found here, Julia’s blog here, and Shannon’s blog here. (The links to the other blogs will be posted here as they become available). It was a good session and everyone worked very focused and efficiently.

In the next session, now fully equipped to journal our coding journey, we will continue to code with Scratch, building an interactive holiday card for the upcoming holidays, and will work on refining the ideas for our individual projects.

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Session 22: Cake Sale & Blogging

After a successful bake sale yesterday morning at the Department of Education, we were tired but excited that we raised some money for Paige. We would like to use this medium to say a big “Thank you” to everyone who was involved in our Cake sale activity – everyone who baked the amazing and beautiful cakes, those who bought our delicious cakes and those who generously contributed. We appreciate you!

During our afternoon session, the Go_girl team had a great time creating our online journal/blog. Paula introduced the girls to wordpress.com to create their digital journal for expressing their interests, experiences and skills. We learnt that building the right online presence (within or outside the regular social media apps) is a good way to show potential employers or school admission officers our IT skills and more information that might not fit into our resume/cv. The girls also learnt the importance of using privacy settings, disabling comments, what kind of information to share or post on their blogs to protect their digital self. Each girl would be updating their online journal in parallel to learning how to program using Scratch.

Next session, we will work on some Scratch exercises and update our blogs about our newly learnt programming skill.

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Cake Sale on Wednesday 9 March @OUDE

On Wednesday, 9 March 2016, from 10:30 – 11:00 at the Department of Education, Norham Gardens 15, we will be selling cakes to raise money for Paige’s fundraising appeal

Please do come along and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea with a slice of freshly baked cake!

                                                                                                              The Go Girl Team 

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Session 21: Coding with Scratch

We started today’s session with our weekly check-in and then Sabbah and Julia briefed the others who had not been there when we had talked about robotics (session 19) about the basics of the game they had learned. We also briefly discussed the individual creative coding projects, with which we will start next week. Some of the young women would like to develop a mobile phone app that is related to nutrition, others would like to design a game, and one group has not yet decided what they would like to do. We will discuss ideas for potential projects next week in more depth.

IMG_4618 Next, we all signed up to Scratch on the computer lab PCs, creating our usernames, and then got started with exploring the program.

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Everyone seemed to have brilliant fun programming with Scratch, as it is so easy and straight-forward to use! It allowed us to use the basic principles of coding, which we had learned and practiced in the Pseudocode exercises in the past few weeks, and to see them applied in a ‘real’ program. We worked at our own pace and created our onw individual Scratch projects. Projects ranged from animations, to stories, games and music. After this exploratory start, we will continue with Scratch coding exercises next week.

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Go Girls football fitness session with OUFC

The go girls have been doing really well in participating in football fitness sessions- this week the group had a free taster session delivered by Ruth Senior and an OUFC under 18’s player.

The group took part in a warm up session, walking then light jogging whilst moving with the ball. The girls learnt how to do step overs and other tricks using the ball.

The girls took part in a 5 aside game which they really enjoyed 🙂

Four of the girls have been offered the opportunity to take part in a qualified FA level 1 coaching course that will take place after the Easter holidays- this will enable them to be qualified coaches and will be able to lead the football fitness sessions on completion of the course- the qualification will also be fantastic to add to their CV’s! 🙂

Well done girls keep up the good work x

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Fundraising Appeal for Paige

Our wonderful and much loved Go Girl project team member and researcher, Paige, who is a DPhil student at the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), University of Oxford, has been taken seriously ill while conducting fieldwork in the US. Two of her colleagues at the OII have set up a fundraising appeal to support Paige in covering the costs of her treatment. At Go Girl, we wholeheartedly endorse this appeal.

Please consider giving a donation here: http://gogetfunding.com/paige/

We are also planning a fundraising activity at Go Girl to contribute to the appeal. Please watch this space for more information and updates about the activity!

                                                                                                     The Go Girl Project Team

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Go Girl attends the CEIAG Conference 2016

Today, the Go Girl project was showcased at the Oxfordshire County Council’s CEIAG Conferece (which stands for Careers, Education, Information, Advice, Guidance, if I am not mistaken!) at King’s Centre in Botley! It was a very interesting event and the Go Girls did a fantastic job talking to other exhibitors about their projects and sharing their experiences of taking part in the project.

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Session 20: Preparing for the CEIAG 2016 Conference

It was great to see everyone back after last week’s mid-term break! Today, nearly everyone was able to attend and we started the session with discussing what we need to prepare for tomorrow’s CEIAG Conference at King’s Centre in Botley.

We wrote down quotes about our experiences of being part of the Go Girl project, which we put up on the pin wall panels that we will use tomorrow to showcase the project. We also decorated the panels for our stall at the conference with posters and logos. We are excited to see how it goes tomorrow!

IMG_4529We then moved on to a creative design exercise, in which we developed a GetWellSoon pseudocode that we then printed onto a silk scarf for Paige.

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It was a very busy session with lots to do today, but everyone chipped in and worked really hard to get everything done by the end of the two hours, and stayed focused throughout!

Next week we will will continue with our introduction to Scratch on our iPads and on the PCs, before we start with the development of our own mobile phone and iPad apps.

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Session 19: coding with plastic cups

The group session kicked off with the girls discussing the previous week talking about other projects and programmes they are currently involved in; including training and employment seeking.

Today the group took part in coding with plastic cups- we got into small groups and had to work from the coding worksheets. We had to write instructions in order to build pyramids with the plastic cups. Each group had a coder(write instructions) and a robot (instructed to stack cups).

The main focus of the session was to write down the sequence of symbols in the correct order to enable your partner (robots) to execute the codes in order. This was fun 🙂

We also had a visit from Janpreet who is a student from the Department of Computer Science. She spoke with the group about her challenges of being a female and studying Computer Science. Talking about her own personal experiences with colleagues and difficulties faced  being a woman interested in studying Mathematics, Science and Spanish. Janpreet was inspirational in terms of empowering the young women to think about equality and following their ambition regardless of gender.

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Session 18: Thinkersmith Traveling Circuits: Robotics and Pseudocodes

Once everyone arrived, we had our weekly check-in and recaps from the previous week. Lita Thornhill and Luke Mattam, representatives of the Oxfordshire CEIAG (Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance) conference 2016 joined us to briefly discuss what and who to expect at the conference taking place on the 25th of February, 2016 at the Kings Centre, Oxford. The go_girls would be exhibiting their projects from several activities done in the past including the digital wildfire project. The conference would be an opportunity for the girls to network and interact with educators and career advisers.

Building on the knowledge of pseudo codes and program instructions from our previous sessions, we decided to carry out the Thinkersmith’s traveling circuit robotics game using symbols and then coding our symbol instructions into pseudo codes. Paula coordinated this exercise, pairing us into groups. Each group had a coder who wrote the instructions and a “robot” friend or partner who had to execute the sequence of symbol instructions.These symbols instructed the robot on how to stack some plastic cups placed in its presence. The main goal of this exercise was to highlight programming techniques. Our symbol instructions started with a program name “PROGRAM CupStackPyramid” and the keyword “start”. Each instruction ended with a semicolon “;” and the keyword “stop”. We learnt how to convert real-world activities into instructions and the need for precision while coding. After practicing robotics with symbols and plastic cups, Niall led the attempt to convert our symbol instructions to pseudo codes using the “While -Do -End While” looping structure for the repetitive actions our robots needed to execute.

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Thinkersmith Traveling Circuits: My Robotic Friends

We were low in attendance but managed to have fun with the small group. Next session, we would complete the pseudo code writing for our robots and sign up with Scratch so we can start writing executable computer codes.

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The T-shirts have arrived!

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Session 17: Writing our first program, in Pseudocode

Today nearly everyone was back. After the usual weekly check-in, we started the session by taking a group picture of us in our go_girl: code+create T-shirts (Shannon, Sabbah, Jess and Anne are missing in the picture).

After a quick re-cap of last week’s session about women in coding and why coding matters by Paula and Paige, we watched a short video clip about Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, which was very informative. We were all surprised about the size of their Difference Engine!

Niall then explained the basic principles of programming again, which he had introduced in last week’s session through Pseudocode, using the example of the program ‘MakeACupOfTea’. We learned through this example how to write a program, using sequence (PROGRAM, END.), selection (through the example of adding sugar or not to the tea using IF, THEN / ELSE, ENDIF;), iterations (WHILE, DO, ENDWHILE;) and loops.

Each of us then went on to design a Pseudocode program of our own choice, trying to apply these principles to our algorithms. We came up with Pseudocode programs such as ‘SetUpAMobilePhone’, ‘ApplyEyeMakeUp’, ‘ListenToSongOnIPad’, ‘UseHairStraighteners’, ‘BrushYourHair’, ‘MakeAToast’, and ‘ApplyFaceFoundation’. We then presented our programs to the group. It was a great activity that made us understand how important it is to provide very detailed and specific instructions at each step of a program. Time went by quickly, and we finished the session by applying the principles we had learned to Python by completing the Python Introduction exercises on Udacity, which we had begun last week.

Next week, we will start with a ‘pen & paper’ coding game using plastic cups, and Paula will also bring along a ‘real’ program for us to have a look at and explore together. We will also complete a few more exercises in Python.

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Go Girl’s do football fitness sessions

The Go Girls have been participating in football fitness sessions this January.

The football fitness sessions take place in the Barton community centre sports hall every Monday between 2 -4pm. The girls come along and get involved with warm up sessions, stretches, healthy eating workshops and friendly football matches- the girls are keen to get fit this year- healthy body healthy mind!!

Oxford United football club has kindly given the girls complimentary tickets to watch Oxford United play Accrington Stanley on Saturday the 20th Feb.

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Session 16: Pseudocode and Udacity

We were a bit low on attendance today with only half of the group attending, but we still carried on with our introduction to coding. We did an icebreaker where we paired off and wrote a sequence of codes for our partners to act out as if we are computers. IMG_4164 - Version 2We learned how important it is to include every little move and pay attention to details when coding. Several of us left out the “drop” symbol in our sequence which left others continuously swinging their legs back and forth not being able to move forward because the “drop” wasn’t included. It was a great activity to warm up with. Here is the pdf of the hand out for our icebreaker in case you want to try with a friend: http://resources.kodable.com/fuzzFamilyFrenzy.pdf

After our icebreaker, Niall gave a talk on pseudocode, which was a nice way to understand the process of coding and learn how to develop a program. Pseudocode is an informal text-based design tool that helps you develop algorithms. It’s a great way to introduce coding and become comfortable with the coding process. Learning  tniallggo loop was a bit confusing for some but what’s great about go_girl and programs like it is that we were able to offer different explanations from different people which gave those who were stuck an opportunity to see which explanation made the most sense to them. We used the last part of today’s session to start watching our first python lesson with Udacity. We’ll continue with that next week and give an overview of today’s session for those that weren’t able to make it. We’ll also be taking our group photo with our new shirts and post it here for you all to see. Here are some coding resources for you to check out.

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Session 15: Intro to Coding

Today was our first day back from the holiday break and the start of our coding phase, the last phase of go_girl. It was really great to see everyone and hear how the break was. We received our go_girl t-shirts and they turned out really nice! We’ll be sure to update you all with a picture of us wearing them.

In today’s session we began learning the basics behind coding and had a lively discussion on the issue of women participation in technology related fields. We listened to an informative National Public Radio broadcast about the plummet in participation of women coders that began in 1984. We shared our own experiences of being in technology-focused classes and how our interests in math and the sciences were either deterred or cultivated growing up. A fun fact we discussed is that the first algorithm written for Charles Babbage’s machine (the first programmable computer) was written by Ada Lovelace. Ergo, the first programmer was actually a woman!

We spent the remainder of today’s session signing up for our first Python course. We will begin the first lesson during next week’s session. It’s good to be back and we’re all excited to learn how to code so we can create our apps!

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Go Girls Isabelle and Frances accept their Digital Wildfires Award

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Go Girls Among Winners of Digital Wildfire Competition

We have just received the news that Isabelle and Frances’ competition entry ‘Identity’ has been crowned one of the winners of the Digital Wildfire competition of the Department of Computer Science, University of Oxford. And Chloe and Rosie’s entry ‘My cyber bully – My story’ was ranked as highly commended! Congratulations to all of our Go Girls for fantastic competition entries! We are all very proud of you!

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Go Girl Xmas Treat

The Go Girls and staff enjoyed a xmas lunch together at Pizza Hut Oxford followed by a trip to the Oxford Play House to watch Alladdin.

It was great to have the whole group together before we break for the festive period.

Wishing all the Go Girls, Anne, Paige and Niall a very merry xmas and a happy new year!!!! See you all in Jan 2016  👍😀👍

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Go Girls go to Ace taster day

The Go Girls were invited to participate in a taster day at Ace training, a specialist construction training center based in Kidlington Oxford.

The aim of the taster day was to give girls and young women the opportunity to take part in learning new skills such as brick laying and carpentry which is predominantly male orientated.

Women have made great advances in the world of work. The employment rate for women continues to rise and today there are more women in work than ever before (now accounting for just under half of the workforce). But, in construction – still one of the largest employers in the UK – progress has been abysmally slow. Women account for only 11 per cent of the construction workforce and just 1 per cent of workers on site. Furthermore, the gender pay gap in construction is still wider than in other industries. The sector can neither justify nor countenance remaining a ‘no-go area’ for women. In order to fill the skills gap it will have to recruit and retain more women, and not just in support roles. Women must be central to the modernisation of the construction industries. Paul Hackett, Director of the Smith Institute

The group of girls said they had really enjoyed this experience and said they thought it would be boring to begin with- one of the girls has completed an apprenticeship application form to join the sessions in the new year. She particularly would like to do the apprenticeship in carpentry 🙂

“Brick laying was really cool, i enjoyed it”- Sabbah

“I though it would be boring but i enjoyed it today”- Frances

“I loved it! Cant wait to go back- i really enjoyed the carpentry”- Jess

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Digital Wildfire Competition – project entry from Chloe and Rosie

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Digital Wildfire Competition – project entry from Sabbah and Shannon

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Digital Wildfire Competition – project entry from Julia

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Digital Wildfire Competition – project entry from Jess and Charlotte

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Digital Wildfire Competition – project entry from Isabelle and Frances

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Session 14: Completing and presenting our Digital Wildfire Projects

Today the Go girls have been working on their individual projects for the Digital Wildfire competition. They have been working in pairs on topics about good and bad social media and events that they have experienced when using social media.

The projects will be entered into a competition and the lucky winners will get the opportunity to take part in an event in London on the 12th of January 2016 – fingers crossed girls!!!!

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Go Girl’s 24 hour walk

The Go Girls will be taking part in a 24 hour sponsored walk in partnership with The Children heard and seen charity.

Start date: Sunday the 20th of December 2015 at 10am until 10am on Monday the 21st. We will all be meeting at the East Oxford Early Intervention Hub to start our adventure.

The group will begin our journey starting in the Cowley area heading towards Oxford City Centre – we will be walking across most of Oxford – Fingers crossed for no rain!!!

If you would like to join in our walk/part of the walk or sponsor this great cause, then please click here  or get in touch with Mel Jewell 07789493588

🙂

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Session 13: Digital Wildfire Projects Progress

In today’s session we focused on finishing the Digital Wildfire projects so the young women could edit and put the finishing touches on them next week before they submit them next Thursday. They made great progress on their projects and we’IMG_2920ll be excited to share them with you all after they present them in next week’s session.

A couple of the young women made a poster that had a word cloud consisting of derogatory terms used to shame other women online. Another decided to do a film where she discusses healthy versus unhealthy social media use. She points out issues such as hacking, privacy, and cyberbullying as the unhealthy behaviours and how these can threaten the benefits or healthy side of social media like keeping in touch with family and friends, supporting friends through positive comments and sharing laughs through videos and memes.

What has been really interesting is hearing about the different experiences and seeing what everyone chooses to share about their social media use. It seems they have all dealt with bullying and privacy issues, which has informed their choices on what to present for their projects. These happen to be the two biggest policy issues regarding social networking sites. It was also interesting to hear one of the young women discuss her motivations for wanting an account initially, saying it was just to keep in touch with friends who were too busy and family that were far but her mom was really concerned about her being bullied online. She has had to deal with this a little through mean comments but that the real issue she has had to deal with was more about strangers sending her messages and seeing disturbing videos posted. All of the young women are active social media users and this project has been a great opportunity for them to reflect on their experiences and these issues. It will be interesting to hear their final reflections when they present next week.

Next week is the Ada Lovelace Symposium here in Oxford, and our last go_girl session until we break for the holidays. We’ll be busy preparing for the next phase of go_girl where the young women will be learning how to code and make their own mobile apps. A lot of exciting things ahead!

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A short recap of the past few months in pictures

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From Sabbah’s Blog: At The Blackbird Leys Job Fair!

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Me interviewing Emma Carneyunnamed1unnamed2

On the 11th of November of 2015 I went to the Blackbird Leys Job Fair with Go Girl. ( Click the link to find out what else we go up to!)

We participated as a group to find out what local training and employment opportunities were available. There was a few retailer offering employment as well as colleges offering apprenticeships and courses. Part of the course was to interview employers and local residents looking for jobs.

We asked employers what they looked for in a good employee and what there expectations were for the potential employees. We also asked local residents who were looking for employment opportunities what their expectations were in looking for a job and what jobs were available to them.

This was a good experience for us to get together as a group and attend the local job fair. then we all went for Lunch at Al Sharmi…

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Go Girl Goes to the Job Fair – A short documentary created and edited by the young women

On 11 November, the Go Girls made a trip to the job fair in East Oxford (see separate post). The young women had researched and prepared a set of questions to ask potential employers. They interviewed and filmed with their iPads the responses of a wide rage of diverse employers, and then reflected on what they had learned from them. Using video editing software, the Go Girls then returned to the computer lab to edit their films, creating a short group documentary of their visit. The result can be viewed here. We would like to sincerely thank all the employers who agreed to be interviewed and filmed for the purpose of this short clip.

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Session 12: Digital Wildfire Discussion: what does it mean to be a good digital citizen?

     Today we had Helena from the Computer Science Department come talk to us for half of the session about the Digital Wildfire project. The young women had the opportunity to engage with her on issues of digital citizenship and share their experiences of using social media. They reflected together on what being “a good digital citizen” might mean in the context of social media, and what they would do if they came across inflammatory context posted on a social media site. Helena introduced the competition that Digital Wildfire is currently holding and encouraged the Go Girls to enter the competition and submit some of their individual projects, which are tailored to Digital Wildfire. The competition deadline is on the 10th of December so our young women have two more weeks to finish their projects and we’ll be sure to share them with you here as well.
     In the second half of the session, we finished the job fair documentary which we will be posting on the blog shortly so do check it out when you can. The documentary will be used as part of a project showcase run by the university’s IT services tomorrow. A few of our young women will also be there to talk about the project.
     Everything is progressing nicely and we’re looking forward to seeing everyone’s finished projects. Next week we will be focusing on finishing the projects so they can add final touches and revisions in our last session before we go on break.
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Session 11: Finances, Documentary Editing, and Digital Wildfire

This week we started the session off with a lesson on finances where the young women learned about managing their money and about the risks of short term cash loans. money GG          We then continued with the individual projects and began editing the job fair interviews into one documentary. Some of the young women have incorporated another project called Digital Wildfire into their individual projects. Digital Wildfire is a really interesting project about digital citizenship and the governance of social media. The project is run by Oxford’s Computer Science Department.

Digital citizenship is generally about responsible online behaviour. It includes awareness of the risks and benefits of the Internet pertaining to issues such as privacy and security, cyber-bullying, and digital literacy where people know how to find and assess credible versus non-credible information online. Primary and secondary schools are beginning to incorporate digital citizenship into their curricula to ensure that young people understand how to use technology appropriately and hopefully reduce the risks and harms associated with it. We are also seeing a growth in community engagement programs tailored toward teaching adults about digital citizenship issues as well. The Digital Wildfire project is a great opportunity for our Go Girls to learn more about digital citizenship.

For the Wildfire project, the young women will be using their individual projects (photography, blogging/vlogging, and gaming) to talk about what it means to be a “goGG1od social media citizen”. They’ve chosen to focus on privacy and security issues and use their own experiences as either witnesses or subjects of cyber-bullying and/or hacking. They’ll be entering their projects in a competition where the winners are invited to London to showcase their work and receive their award.

Aside from this, another group of our young women worked on cutting down the interview footage from the job fair. We had over twenty minutes of footage that needed to be cut down to 3.5 minutes. They all listened to the 20+ minutes of footage and wrote down the times for the pieces they want to include in the documentary so they could cut the rest. Next week they’ll be doing to final cuts and adding the effects so it can be presented on Thursday.

Everything is coming along well and it looks like we’ll have our first outputs to show next week and the week after. We’re really pleased so far with how things are progressing. Go Girl is still growing!

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Session 10: Go Girl Goes to the Job Fair: Interviews, Filming and iPad Projects

Today was exciting and productive as we had a full day of activities. We all went to a job fair where the young women had the opportunity to interview employers while filming with their iPads. The interviews turned out really well and we ended up with a variety of employer interviews including those with military personnel, childcare specialists and social workers. TheirGG Job Fair next task is to combine all of the interviews and edit them into one documentary. We’ll be sure to update you all when that’s finished! All in all, the job fair was insightful and the young women gained valuable experience in interviewing.

After the job fair we headed to lunch at Al Shami where the young women were presented with their achievement awards (see picture below) before coming back for our Go Girl session. In today’s session, we debriefed by reflecting on our time at the job fair and seeing what everyone thought was useful. We then watched all of the interviews on the iPads before uploading them all together on the computer.

We spent the rest of the session starting the individual projects. As a reminder, we have three different project areas developed from the young women’s interests. The three project areas are photography, gaming and video blogging/blogging. They used the remainder of today’s session to watch tutorials on the specific software they will be using for their projects. Everyone seems enthusiastic about their projects and we can’t wait to see how their skills develop and what the finished products will look like.

Filling out job applications, interviewing employers, and watching tutorials made for a long but exciting and productive day. Next week we will be editing the interviews into a documentary and continuing the individual iPad projects. We’re excited to update you with the final products!

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Eight of the Go Girls with their Achievement Certificates, awarded by the Oxfordshire County Council

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Session 9: Individualised iPad Projects: Photography, Gaming and Video Blogs!

This was our first week back after the young women’s half-term break. Today’s session was focused on selecting individualised projects for each of the young women to carry out on their iPads for the next couple of weeks. We went around and shared areas of interest and potential career paths everyone was interested in to determine the individual projects. Four of our Go Girls are interested in photography so they will be working on Photoshop and other photography software applications to build their editing skills. Several others were interested in gaming and building apps while the remaining few expressed interest in the entrepreneurial side of video blogging (vlogging).

We spent the rest of the session brainstorming for each of the projects and coming up with end goals. We’ll spend the next couple of weeks watching specific tutorials for the projects and working with the different software. Those interested in blogging/vlogging will work towards building their own blogs, filming vlogs, and marketing themselves. Those interested in photography will be building their own websites or blogs for their photographs and will be learning Photoshop so they can edit their photos. For those interested in gaming, they will learn through basic coding apps and work towards creating their own games. Everyone will share their projects when they finish and we’re really excited to see what they look like!

Next week we’re all going to a job fair where our Go Girls will be conducting and filming interviews with potential employers and other job fair attendees. They’ve come up with an interview protocol including questions about what different employers look for in the hiring process. We’ll be updating the blog with how it goes next week!

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Autumn Fun!! – Another smartphone short-film created by the young women

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Session 8: iPads are Here! iMovie Fun

This week was a really exciting Go Girl session because we received our iPads! We spent most of today’s session setting them up then we used them to film new short videos and edited them. The videos were quite diverse, ranging from political to documentary style autumn themed videos. It IMG_1723was interesting to see how familiar everyone was with the setup despite not having owned an iPad before. The videos turned out great and we plan to have them present their videos to each other the next time we meet. There is no Go Girl session next week because it is half-term so everyone is on break but when we return the first week of November we are going to be moving on to blogging and GarageBand. A couple of the young women are interested in music production careers so it will be exciting to see what they come up with and how it all evolves.

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Smartphone short-film created by one of the Go Girls

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Session 7: Introduction to short filmmaking and video editing

We continued with our digital skills and digital storytelling phase in today’s session, which was focused on short filmmaking and video editing. Building on the previous task of taking pictures throughout their day, last week we asked everyone to shoot a short video clip (1-2 min) of something that happened in their day. We uploaded the short clips onto the PCs in Windows Movie Maker and watched what each other came up with before editing them. They learned how to cut and lengthen frames from their videos and how to apply different visual effects such as fading transitions.

We revisited the concept and practice of storyboarding and had everyone storyboard something else they wanted to film. Some decided to storyboard and film everyday activities such as teatime and walking down the street capturing essences of Autumn. Another young woman who is interested in electronic music IMG_1599production decided to storyboard a music video and will be using electronic music she has made as the background when she films it by next week’s session.

Everyone was enthusiastic about getting to use the computers and edit their videos. The iPads have arrived and everyone is really excited about them! We’re looking forward to seeing their creative potentials and everything we will be able to do and learn with them. Next week we will be finishing up with editing everyone’s videos.

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Poster session at the Department of Education, University of Oxford

The Go Girls were represented with this poster at today’s poster exhibtion at the Department of Education, University of Oxford!

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go_girl project poster at OUDE

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Session 6: “A day in the life of…” – Telling our stories through digital pictures

After our introductory life skills sessions over the past month, we had our first session of the digital skills and digital storytelling phase today.

In last week’s session, everyone had been tasked with documenting one day of their week by taking pictures throughout the day. Today, after the usual check-in and recap of last week, those who had completed the picture task uploaded their images on the seminar room PC and presented them on the big screen to the group, elaborating on the story these pictures told. We described what had prompted us to take these specific pictures, what they represented to us and why they were important to us, and how we had felt about the task of documenting a day in our lives.

We then moved on to the concept of storyboarding and watched two short video introductions on how to storyboard a short film. We learned that a storyboard is a visual representation – a drawing or an illustration – to map out the flow of videos, detailing camera angle, light, sound, movement etc..

Each person was then asked to focus on one small event in their stories, such as buying a loaf of bread, and to storyboard that (see picture). The events that the young women chose varied from an encounter with a difficult and demanding person, to putting on make-up before going to a party, to waiting in vain for a colleague at the railway station.

For our next session, we are tasked to create a short video clip with our mobile phones which we will then learn to edit. Everybody seems really excited and looking forward to our iPads arriving in a few weeks’ time, so that we can start to edit the films and record and mix our own soundtracks!

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Storyboarding

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Session 5: Addiction and Mindfulness

In today’s session, the last one for the life skills development and mindfulness phase, we focused on addiction. This topic again stemmed from earlier discussions we had this summer with our Go Girls about what they thought would be helpful for them. It was a really productive session with great discussion and important connections were made between issues associated with addiction and the importance of what we learned in our previous sessions.

Everyone was really active and engaged during today’s session. After going over the various things people can become addicted to we outlined the cycle of addiction. Then we read over a couple of scenarios and discussed what factors contribute to the cycle of addiction and what can be done to avoid it. Our activities today sparked a lot of discussion and reflection. It provided a good opportunity for our Go Girls tIMG_1378o reflect on their paths and to think about what is needed to stay on a path that gets them closer to their aspirations.

As I mentioned above, connections were made from our previous sessions, which was a nice way to see how they all tie together. Along with fostering healthy relationships, we agreed that open communication is crucial for anyone that might be facing hardships and feeling unstable or at risk of swaying from a positive path toward achieving their goals. Through sharing stories we were able to see how our environments can impact our daily choices but that we do have control over the choices we make and nobody is defined by their postcode.

Next week we are getting into the first week of the digital skills phase. Everyone has been tasked with documenting one day between this session and next by taking pictures throughout the day. We are going to use the pictures to introduce digital storytelling and each person is going to create their own storyboard with their pictures. Later during this next phase, they will be editing and creating short films on topics of their choosing. Everyone is really enthusiastic about this phase!

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Session 4: Dealing with Anger and Aggression

The themes and goals of our sessions for this first phase come from a combination of relevancy for the wider goals of Go Girl and the particular interests of our young women. This week’s session on dealing with anger and aggression was primarily inspired by the latter. While anger is said to sometimes be an appropriate emotion, often times anger and aggression can be an indication of subtle, wider issues. In fact, anger and acts of aggression continue to be cited as common characteristics among disengaged young people. Much like our earlier session on identifying and assessing our values and aspirations, it’s important to be self-aware by learning about what triggers us to become angry and how we handle it. Today we learned about the different types of anger such as passive aggressiveness and hostile or cold anger. It was a really productive session where we reflected on the things in particular that trigger these feelings of anger, how we react to them and what the appropriate ways of dealing with it are.  Everyone agreed that they had learned something useful in today’s session.

Next week we’re focusing on addiction and mindfulness. It’s the last week of this first phase before moving on to digital storytelling and media production skills. Our numbers are growing and we are all looking forward to the creative work ahead!

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Session 3: How Values Shape our Relationships

An article we recently tweeted discussed the importance of understanding the processes and forces shaping our values and aspirations in the context of “coding culture” which connects nicely with a key aspect of this first phase of Go Girl. There is plenty of literature out there that discusses the differences between women and men’s aspirations and how this influences their choice of life paths including fields of occupation and educational attainment with women often having lower expectations in terms of pay and education level. This often goes uncontested making it even more important to develop awareness and to assess where our values and aspirations stem from. In this vein, our first couple of sessions have covered values, aspirations and communication skills. This week we continued with self-awareness practices and life skills development.

This past week we focused on different types of relationships and what it takes to nurture positive relationships in our lives. One of the exercises we completed during the session entailed a relationship poster {see below} with a ship drawn on it where we wrote out characteristics needed for healthy relationships in the ship and what makes for unhealthy and unsustainable relationships in the water, ultimately causing our relationSHIP to capsize. An important take-away from our discussion on relationships was the idea of establishing boundaries for ourselves within the workplace and at home. We discussed how women often have a harder time setting boundaries and being able to say “no” to more work when we already feel overwhelmed. This is important to be aware of, especially for women seeking careers in male dominated fields like most of the tech sector.

GoGirl

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Session 2: Communication Skills

Today’s session was focused on communication skills. Communication is fundamental for us to not only express our interests and aspirations but also to help foster healthy relationships, which is next week’s topic. It’s been shown that level of educational aspirations and attainment is positively related to consistent communication with a close support network (Smith-Maddox, 1999).

We completed several activities to distinguish the different types of communication and how listening is a crucial aspect of effective communication as well. We identified which type of communicators we felt we were such as thoughtful/analytical versus straightforward/direct and an important observation one of the young women made was that it really depends on the context and our relationship with those we are talking to and that we don’t neatly fall into one category over another. We also went through a list of “communication shut-downs” that work to shut off lines of communication. We discussed our own experiences with these and the repercussions associated with shutting off communication with one another.

One key take-away from this session was learning that drawing boundaries is particularly important in our everyday lives and how women struggle with this more than our male counterparts in professional contexts. This has wider connections with technology-related fields more generally making it all the more relevant for our Go Girls. Hopefully, by learning the different ways to communicate and how the importance of developing these skills helps us foster healthier relationships, our Go Girls will have the positive impact on educational attainment shown in previous research.

Smith-Maddox, R. (1999). The social networks and resources of African American eighth graders: Evidence from the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988. Adolescence, 34, 169–183

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Session 1: Values and Aspirations

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We’re officially underway with the first phase of our project, which is dedicated to learning about each other and our values and aspirations. We had our first meeting since returning from summer holiday just last week. During the session we did various activities geared toward understanding the difference between intrinsic and monetary values. We each made our own “values poster” {see pictures below} where we listed what was valuable to us. Common themes were friendship, fairness, kindness, and family. We also went through envelopes of prewritten values and aspirations such as “being successful in sports” and “having a dependable friend” and ranked them from most important to least important. These were useful exercises that helped us to reflect on what was important in our own lives, which can be used to help guide and understand our aspirations. This week we are going to continue with the aspirations focus by filling out some aspiration surveys and discussing with one another. The rest of the month is dedicated to self-awareness and life skills before we move on to the next phases, which have a technology focus and give the young women opportunities to be creative with digital technology by creating videos with their smartphones. We’re currently seeking more young women to join the team and are actively reaching out to our wider networks to encourage more participants.

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Identifying values in our lives

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Ideas of life skills and topics to cover in phase one

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go_girl: code+create workshop at Said Business School for IT Staff

Niall Winters introducing the go_girl project in a workshop at the Said Business School to IT Staff at the University of Oxford.

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Introducing go_girl: code+create

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 12.19.50go_girl: code+create is a project at the Department of Education, University of Oxford, jointly run by Niall Winters and Anne Geniets. In line with Oxford’s targets in its Access Agreement with the Office for Fair Access, this interdisciplinary project complements existing programmes aimed at widening access (for example: UNIQ and Learning centre), but tackles the problem in a fundamentally new way using technology. For details about the project, please see the “About the Project” link, and also see our outline on the Department of Education’s Learning and New Technologies Research Group Blog.

This research is supported by the University of Oxford IT Innovation Seed Fund.

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