Ambassador Profile: Attila Főző PhD, Hungary 

Ambassador Profile: Attila Főző PhD, Hungary 

Attila Főző has been an EU Code Week Ambassador for 5 years. He is an enthusiast of coding experiences and is constantly feeding the community in Hungary with new ideas to expand coding in and out of schools. With such energy and creativity, EU Code Week decided to chat with him about the current and future landscape of coding in Hungary and Europe.  

How did you get involved with Code Week in the first place? 

I joined the Hungarian EU Code Week team in 2016, five years ago. I have been working as coordinator of some national initiatives supporting technology in teaching. Nowadays I work as pedagogy advisor and university lecturer, and I always try to draw the attention of the teachers and students to the algorithmic thinking and programming. 

What is your background (in regard to coding)? 

I studied physics and chemistry and I used to teach science in a secondary school. As a university student I started programming on ZX Spectrum in BASIC in the last century. The next step was the Pascal programming language with an IBM PC/AT. In the last decade I worked at digital education centres where the activities were focused on digital competence, coding and robotics. 

How do you see the coding landscape among schools in Hungary? 

The basic concepts of the algorithmic thinking and some coding is included in the national curriculum of the subject called Digital Culture. Coding activities and robots for kids are popular in many primary schools and in some kindergartens as well. In the recent years micro:bits and LEGO robots are more and more popular in the secondary schools. The makerspace revolution has arrived in Hungary several years ago and in the recent years the number of makerspaces is increasing in the vocational education. 

There is a big network of so-called Digital Success Points in Hungary which are based in libraries and social service points of every village and town. In the last 3 years this network has become more active during the Code Week, by organising many events for kids and even for adults. 

Tell us more about the activities you have already implemented. 

In August (before the school year started) all the Hungarian schools got an e-mail from the state secretary for education with the basic information about the EU Code Week. This message is sent every year by the Ministry of Human Capacities. 

As a tradition started in 2016, we always organise webinars for teachers. This Autumn we hosted 10 webinars, 3 of them supporting teachers to get familiar with the Code Week challenges. I worked with several teachers to prepare translated and enriched descriptions for 11 of this year Code Week challenges 

The most popular social media platform in Hungary is Facebook that is why we focus the communication on our Facebook page and some other professional/teacher groups. 

In recent years, we managed to find companies that sponsored competitions for schools. This year, schools can apply by posting videoclips about their good Code Week practices and the prizes will be robots, micro:bits etc. for 3,300 EUR in total. 

What is the effect coding has on the kids and in teachers? Do they enjoy the first approaches to coding, or does it take time for them to adjust and feel comfortable with the coding activities? 

Both kids and teachers enjoy coding if we use engaging methods in their teaching. The best recipients are the children between 8 and 14. The real-world problems and the student-centred approach is very important. Teachers are always taking into consideration their subjects’ curricula which -in many cases- does not mention the importance of algorithmic thinking and coding, or it is not included in the methodology.  

In which school subjects have you seen coding as a useful tool? 

There is no doubt that STEM/STEAM cannot exist without coding, computational thinking, and inquiry-based projects. The big challenge to convince the teachers who never studied programming and do not have experience with robotics, 3D printing etc. to discover news areas. Coding is for everyone – this the message I always try to deliver to the teachers I work with in trainings. 

How do you visualise EU Code Week’s 10th anniversary next year? 

Ten years is a huge period for the digital world in the 21st century. I hope Code Week will be extended and we as ambassadors will act as ‘catalysts’ in an unforgettable celebration of the digital skills, coding, and computational thinking. Hopefully we will have the opportunity the organise live national and international events like conferences and hackathons.