Meet the new Code Week team at the European Commission!
Publication date: December 20, 2022
Three new colleagues – Stefanie Hille, Ioannis Gaviotis, and Denisa Boca have recently joined the Code Week team taking over for Annika Ostergren and Jakub Kajtman. In the following interview below they talk about how it feels to be part of the team, what motivates them, what they like most about Code Week, and how they see the future of Code Week evolving. We join with the Code Week community in welcoming them to the team. Read on for some interesting insights.
1. Stefanie, how did you end up at EU Code Week and what motivates you to be part of the EU Code Week team?
Indeed, together with my two colleagues Ioannis and Denisa, we are the new Code Week coordinators at the European Commission. The three of us work in a unit at DG Connect dealing with the topics of digital education and digital skills.
We are super excited to take over the work of our colleagues Annika and Jakub who moved on with new roles in the Commission. As both of them have done an amazing job for EU Code Week, it will be a huge task for us to step into their shoes – but we are super motivated and up for the challenge!
2. And what do you like most about EU Code Week?
What I personally really love most about EU Code Week is that I can truly feel the joy and passion that the community and all the volunteers have about this fantastic initiative. It is truly great to be part of it!
3. Ioannis, how does it feel for you to be part of the EU Code Week team?
As a previous trainer on computer-related topics, I am also thrilled to be part of the EU Code Week team now!
When looking at the recent statistics, one can really say that EU Code Week is, among many initiatives we support, really one of our true ‘popstars’! Just imagine: between 2018 and 2021, more than 300,000 activities were registered on our platform – this is simply amazing! And although Code Week is Europe-based, it attracted attention from countries, like Jordan, Tunisia, Azerbaijan, even India, Mexico and Kazakhstan.
4. And what impresses you most about the whole initiative?
What is truly great is that many ideas were proposed by the Code Week community itself – like the School Label which acknowledges the work of front-running schools. This was really an idea that was proposed from the bottom-up – not proposed by us, but really by the grassroots movement itself!
5. Denisa, what about you, what do you like most about the EU Code Week?
I joined DG CNECT recently and Code Week is among the first projects that I am actively involved in. I am very excited to be part of the team! I think it’s impressive that the volunteer community of ambassadors and leading teachers around the world is at the heart of everything Code Week-related. I truly appreciate and respect that.
It is so inspiring to see the amount of time, effort, and skills they dedicate into bringing computational thinking, coding, and other topics related to digital education and skills to as many people as possible. And, as Stefanie also mentioned, there is so much passion going into organising and promoting Code Week activities in Europe and beyond. It gives us extra motivation to also do our best as new members of the Code Week community.
6. Stefanie, what interests you most about coding and how does EU Code Week fit into your unit’s overall work on digital education?
What I particularly find fascinating about coding is that it is for everyone, not just for kids and people who are considering a career as ICT specialists in the future. Coding helps kids to develop confidence, it teaches them how to solve problems, by being creative, persistent and working in teams. And these experiences are valid for life!
What I appreciate about Code Week is that it not only tackles coding in a narrow sense, but it is an initiative that helps promote topics surrounding the wider field of digital education, one of the core areas of our unit’s work and an area I am very passionate about.
7. Why do you like your work in the area of digital education so much?
To answer this, I’d like to quote an old proverb which says: ‘Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.’ With traditional teaching approaches, students may be listening – but are they really learning?
I am convinced that digital technologies – including artificial intelligence, robotics or virtual and augmented reality – can make a students’ learning experience much more interactive, exciting, and fun. Those new technologies, when supported by the right pedagogies, can engage students on a much deeper level, which can really boost the learning outcome. This is really motivating!
8. Ioannis, what is the future of Code Week?
Europe faces a shortage of digital experts who have the knowledge and skills to develop cutting-edge technologies, which we so desperately need to solve many of the world’s problems. More importantly, basic digital skills must reach the general population and we see that certain social groups are underprivileged in this aspect. Getting comfortable to use and understand computing, as well as developing algorithmic thinking is beneficial for everyone.
EU Code Week wants to attract especially young people, beginning in primary school, to digital careers and to encourage a shift in their perception. Given its great potential to address these challenges, we’ll focus on bringing forward interesting, useful, engaging, thought-provoking educational content. EU Code Week has a bright future ahead!
9. Denisa, why do you think it’s important to encourage students to learn about coding and computational thinking?
I think coding, computational thinking and digital literacy in general are essential 21st century skills to help us make sense of our current and future realities.
Nowadays technology is advancing at incredible speed. So, learning about coding and becoming familiar with AI, VR, robotics, and other latest technology from an early age is very important. It helps us develop skills necessary not only to survive, but also to thrive today and in the future.
But coding and computational thinking are not just about advancing your career. They also improve your ability to think creatively when dealing with real-life problems. You develop logic reasoning abilities, learn how to strategize and find effective solutions in any given situation.
10. Can coding be fun?
Yes! Coding can be a lot of fun. And Code Week activities are solid proof in this sense. They are interactive and accessible to all ages and competency levels. I think these traits make coding particularly attractive to students. And this is great, as it’s very important that they enjoy the learning process.
I personally see great potential in Code Week’s interactive approach to teaching coding, algorithmic thinking, and digital skills. And I truly believe that we can achieve great results from providing students with fun and engaging learning experiences.
Ultimately, the aim is to facilitate coding and digital education in the best possible way to help today’s students prepare for the future.