New government supported software teaches kids to code in Ojibwe

Students across Canada can now learn coding and computational skills, while also developing their knowledge of the Ojibwe language through a new version of MicroWorlds JR.

The software encourages children from pre-readers to grade 4 to learn how to code without requiring reading comprehension. The program uses simple point-and-click operations, “child-friendly” symbols, and audio directions that are now accessible in Ojibwe.

“This is the first ever coding language available in Ojibwe.”
– Michael Quinn, LCSI
 

LCSI, the developers of the MicroWorlds line, and non-profit TakingITGlobal collaborated with Jason Jones, Ojibwe language coordinator at the Rainy River District School Board in Fort Frances, Ontario, to get the most accurate translations. Jones consulted community experts and elders for the program, including his grandmother Nancy Jones, who provided the audio recordings.

MicroWorlds JR is a part of TakingITGlobal and LCSI’s Code to Learn Initiative funded by CanCode. The initiative has reached over 50,000 Canadian students to date.

“This is the first ever coding language available in Ojibwe,” said Michael Quinn, president of LCSI. “This will enable children to reinforce their knowledge of Ojibwe and make them extremely proud of their heritage. In addition, as highlighted as a Call to Action in the Truth and Reconciliation Report, teachers and students will now be able to create culturally appropriate interactive curriculum units.”

MicroWorlds JR also incorporates art from Anishinaabe visual storyteller Nyle Johnston, which was featured in the Connecting with Our First Family exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario last year. Coding students will be able to use this artwork, allowing them to create interactive cultural stories and games.

“With 2019 being celebrated as the United Nations Year of Indigenous Languages, efforts are underway to offer additional Indigenous language versions of MicroWorlds JR in the coming months,” said Michael Furdyk, director of innovation at TakingITGlobal.

Download MicroWorlds JR in Ojibwe free of charge for Windows or macOS here.

Featured image via Unsplash.

Sera Wong

Sera Wong

Heyo, Sera here. I love infographics, organizing data, and making lists. I’m an avid lover of cats. Please send cat pics my way at @Sera_wong on Twitter.