Tech & Innovation

Culture club

By Business & Finance
24 September 2015
coder dojo mary maloney
Mary Moloney, CoderDojo and Lauren Boyle, winner of Mega Spiders Creative Web Coding for Cool Kids Studio

CoderDojo celebrated its fourth anniversary recently. Niamh Mac Sweeney spoke to the key drivers about the movements success and the growth of the global phenomena. 

Four years ago while still in his teens, James Whelton, with support from Bill Liao, founded CoderDojo at the National Software Centre in Cork. In its short history, the movement has grown to become a global phenomena with over 740 Dojos in 59 countries around the world. CoderDojo has reached over 40,000 young people, with around 30,000 currently participating on a regular basis learning how to code and explore new technology.

Speaking at CoderDojo’s fourth birthday in July, Whelton said: “In four years, this idea Bill and I had for a place, which impacts different people in different ways, all brought together by the ability to create on computers, has reached many different corners of the earth. Even now, my mind cannot comprehend the good will, effort and determination that has carried CoderDojo to where it is. CoderDojo has been developed, coloured and characterised by all of us, the community, the lifeblood and the source of impact.”

Given the phenomenal growth of the movement, last year Mary Maloney joined the CoderDojo Foundation team, taking up the position of global CEO. Previously, she was a partner in Accenture, leading engagements with international clients in the media, tech, telco and financial services during her 23 years with the firm.

Although it was a transition moving from a large international corporate to a not-for-profit, Maloney agrees that having had that time with a large organisation has really helped by bringing experience and contacts into the movement.

At a Dojo, kids are shown coding tools and are given full exposure to the real power of technology, learning that they too can be tech creators


Is the global success  of CoderDojo due to coding being a universal language? “People instantly think ‘I need this in my community’ because there is a gap in the education system in most countries,” Maloney explains.

“At a Dojo, kids are shown coding tools and are given full exposure to the real power of technology, learning that they too can be tech creators. They won’t all go on to be coders or software engineers but at least they will be confident with technology and they will be empowered to have conversations with technologists and feel included.”

With a strong focus on growing the movement throughout the world, Maloney says the mission is to continue to equip every single person around the world who wants to get involved with the tools that they need.

“We have created a suite of tools that mentors can use to introduce the kids to coding to then bring them on a journey into different languages. We are working on partnerships across the globe, where large corporates and tech companies that have locations around the world where we don’t currently exist, can lend their support.”


According to the CEO: “Our ultimate goal is to strengthen exactly how we operate so that we can support as many people as possible because we want to reach every child in the world and create a place where they can go and learn about technology and coding in a safe, fun and collaborative environment.”

CoderDojo rely on the generosity of the mentors and the business community for their support as CoderDojos pop up all over the world at about 3-4 a week. “We need to work to continue to make that as easy as possible, to enrich the content for the kids coming in to a Dojo and introduce them to new trends and technology,” Maloney adds.

“Time can fly by when kids are having fun,” Bill Liao says, “and in the scant four years since it began it is has been a constant delight to see so many kids across the world enjoying the power and creativity of the code they create at CoderDojos’.

“The scalability of the CoderDojo model means its expansion has been and continues to be rapid, and this reminds us all that there is so much more to do to see all kids afforded the opportunity to become digital creators.”