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Walk the Talk Special Episode with Jeni Trice of Get with the Program

April 21, 2022 Nadia Edwards-Dashti
The DEI Discussions - Powered by Harrington Starr
Walk the Talk Special Episode with Jeni Trice of Get with the Program
Show Notes Transcript

On this week's #WalkTheTalk special episode, Nadia is joined by Jeni "Professor" Trice, CEO, Founder and Chief Coding Adventurer at Get with the Program.

This fantastic initiative aims to inspire the tech innovators of the future with exciting live and virtual theatre-in-education events in schools. Jeni uses her 25 years within the I.T. consultancy and tech world to turn these concepts of computational thinking into fun and engaging adventures while dressed as a professor and helped by a robot.

In their conversation, the pair discuss the importance of representation for young girls who are interested in computer science. Jeni believes the more girls see female representation in tech, the more they will feel empowered to take it up without judgement from their male peers. 

Jeni also shares how you can make the difference and walk the talk for our future generations. 

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00:00:00:05 - 00:00:24:10

Welcome to the Walk The Talk podcast series. A very special short series as part of FinTech with Nadia, the DEI Discussions through tangible action and clear follow-up. We're here to celebrate the wins, raise awareness of the challenges and walk the talk for change across the entire fintech industry. Today we are joined by Jeni Trice, CEO, founder and chief coding adventurer at Get with the Program.

00:00:25:13 - 00:01:01:13

This fantastic initiative increasingly inspires the tech innovators of the future with exciting live and virtual theatre in education events in schools. Jeni heads up this amazing organisation, educating and inspiring children. She uses her 25 years within the I.T. consultancy and tech implementation world, where she specialised in programming integration and training project teams. She now turns these concepts of computational thinking into fun and engaging adventures while dressed as a professor and helped by a robot.

00:01:01:19 - 00:01:24:01

Jeni, welcome. Great to have you. Thank you so much. Lovely to be here. So tell us about Get With the Program and how you inclusively inspire the tech innovators of the future. Well, Get With The Program is a social enterprise which links business sponsors with schools to create exciting tech learning events designed to inspire the tech innovator of the future.

00:01:24:05 - 00:01:48:05

Our unique interactive theatre in education experiences teach children coding concepts in a fun, inspiring way, capturing their creative imaginations. The overall aim is to encourage them on the path to a future in tech. So today's children can ultimately lead the way in solving the world's biggest challenges. I love that. And a path to a future in tech. That's exactly where we need to be.

00:01:48:05 - 00:02:10:16

But tell us why is that so important that we do this? Well, there's a huge number of positive outcomes from the approach we use by working with children from age five. Upwards and normalising the visibility of less well represented role models. But of course, at the same time making tech fun and engaging, we are immediately broadening horizons and aspirations.

00:02:10:19 - 00:02:32:06

Not everyone is drawn to learn about how technology works, but if you can make it relatable and accessible to everyone, then you immediately diversify the learning environment and the potential workforce. I've heard of a friend's daughter who gave up GCSE computing as a result of peer pressure and the unwelcome feeling she got from being the only girl in the class.

00:02:32:15 - 00:02:57:02

And the reality is, more girls in computing classroom will encourage more girls to stay in the computing classroom. It's it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. So in short, what we're doing is a crazy thing to an education style to uplift computer literacy, broaden the diversity of those engaged and involved, and ensure it captures the imaginations of all those we want to encourage to be the tech innovators of the future.

00:02:58:00 - 00:03:23:20

This is super inspiring because it's so important that we are inspiring those tech innovators of the future. I know that there's been a lot of successes with this. Can you share some of them? Well, we started out running popular assembly events about healthy eating and coding and rockets to the moon and coding. And we were then selected for a grant from Hatch County Council to write an eco coding adventure about reducing packaging and weekly shop.

00:03:23:22 - 00:03:57:03

And then when Lockdown prevented us from taking this actually into schools, we quickly pivoted to filming our shows and discovered the success of remote delivery. So our basic success was when our pantomime in collaboration with Winchester Science Centre and STEM Learning actually went global. And I'm delighted to say it was seen by a quarter of a million children saying that the film version still use Kinaesthetic learning and physical activity to engage the children with coding concepts.

00:03:57:03 - 00:04:24:20

But by filming our stories and explanations, we were able to make the coding adventures much more scalable. So it means that now accessible to many more children, particularly those who come from less well represented groups, and need those inclusive role models to extend their ambitions. Our next success is a soon to be announced partnership with a well-known global healthcare organisation, and this will extend the global access to our coding adventures even further.

00:04:24:20 - 00:04:49:10

I'm so excited. Can't wait. But I can tell you all about it. Yes, I can't wait to bounce it. Now, why don't we go back a bit? Let's go back to the beginning. Tell us a bit more about your background that got you here today to be doing this Well, I started out in I.T. consultancy. I was a consultant for learning about technology that originally actually I started a career in medicine as medical school, and then I went into that philosophy.

00:04:49:11 - 00:05:24:13

So I come from quite an unusual background into technology, but I think that's quite common. I have had a 25 year career as a technology consultant, and during that I realised my real superpower is taking complex concepts and making them fun, engaging and accessible to everyone in the room. So when I've developed teams and project members and end users about technology, I do this in a way that makes the content accessible to all so they can go on and use their newfound skills to create creative solutions in their own specialised areas.

00:05:24:15 - 00:05:58:09

I've got a variety of backgrounds in programming integrating teaching enterprise, architecture and strategy, and at the same time as having that career. I've also been the primary carer for my two children. Then are teenagers and in fact both have autism diagnoses. So I have a keen personal interest in inclusivity from a neurodiversity perspective as well. And that's fantastic that you've included that because I think inclusion is about including everybody, and this is why you're here today to share how you walk the talk but how others can walk the talk too.

00:05:58:16 - 00:06:20:07

So before we go into that, tell us about your light bulb moment that got you to leave your senior role and pivot into education. So it was all about my children's education and I spent went through that primary years. I could observe how the children's teachers needed more support from those of us in the tech world. I've seen there's a need for support and education through my own children's schools.

00:06:20:07 - 00:06:41:17

There's some wonderful tech able teachers out there, but there are so many more who are intimidated by technology and would love more support. So what we've done it get with the Program and this follows my own experience in the wider I.T. world is we've taken those complex concepts, made them fun, engaging and accessible to everyone in the room, even if some of them are only five years old.

00:06:41:23 - 00:07:02:05

I know there's plenty of people out there who are keen to help improve diversity in the tech world and encourage children from a wide range of backgrounds. And my original goal was always to help find ways to help them in their support. And so working with you in this walk, the talk environment is just fabulous. So what I'd love to do is make it easier for those supporters to really do something.

00:07:02:07 - 00:07:45:11

Yeah. And how businesses responded to the initiative. We've been delighted. They start the importance of the role they play in supporting early education and grassroots coding and the fact that this will be vital in creating the workforce they need. So it really connects to where you are in the world as well. Not yet. They realise that a tech event for a seven year old can inspire that child to pursue a computer science GCSE and ultimately become a 21 year old with an aspiring career in fintech who wants to work for these organisation But it's not only about the individual employees, it's about making a paradigm shift, encouraging those around them, diversifying the classroom creating an environment

00:07:45:11 - 00:08:16:22

which they all learn more successfully. And if we want to have more diversity and more diverse thinkers in our companies, both in the workforce and the boardroom, we really need to encourage more grassroots diversity and keep those without tech role models in their homes a route to finding them. So this is a great opportunity for everyone to get involved we need more businesses and individuals to step up and help with funding more companies to take the first steps to support organisations like ours and help us inspire all students to see themselves as the tech innovators of the future.

00:08:17:00 - 00:08:55:07

So the big question how can people get involved? How can they walk the talk with the group? Honestly, it's easy. Initially, we need more funding to pay for the schools or to interested engaged in what we do. But who can't afford our events right now? Anyone listening who is ready to walk the talk? The simplest and most effective thing you can do when you stop listening to this podcast is go to our link, get with the Program to org dot UK Slash Walk the Talk where you can find out more and decide to pay £360 for coding adventure for a school who needs more diversity tech role models for their students.

00:08:55:16 - 00:09:14:23

We already have a list of interested schools we know have this need. We can quickly link your donation to them. That's the first thing. The next step could be to walk the talk. You could get involved yourself with a local school to you, perhaps one you've got a connexion to and help coordinate a coding adventure. There is so much fun.

00:09:14:24 - 00:09:33:13

I strongly recommend it. When are you coming on? One Very soon. We need support getting the schools ready for their adventures so gentle guidance about the activities would really help us and having someone on the ground on the date who we really have to keep training and if it's local to us, we'd like to be able to join you too.

00:09:33:14 - 00:09:54:23

We'd also love to get your organisations on board with our inclusive adventures. That could be through funding within the women in tech groups supporting ethnic diverse groups or other CSR initiatives to simply inspire children with more diverse interests that technology might be for them. Some businesses like to pay for a series of schools to run the coding adventures.

00:09:54:23 - 00:10:21:03

Some choose one school, some choose ten. And then our third step is for some organisations to become sole or co-sponsors to develop a newly filmed coding adventure. We have so much fun writing them, getting everything, getting ideas from the organisation, getting everyone involved in it. We're currently writing and event using a healthy eating theme, obviously with coding with the help of a global corporate and this sort of commitment costs in the region of 40 to £50,000.

00:10:21:03 - 00:10:44:05

So it takes a commitment, but we can make an enormous difference to young people's career aspirations and goals. We want girls to see themselves within the tech world. We need to make sure as representation for less well represented groups and then normalised for children a young age. All coding adventures range from five years and our new initiatives are from nine to 14.

00:10:44:05 - 00:11:04:16

And my commitment is to give 100,000 more girls access to inspirational, inclusive tech events through Nigeria. Your Walk the Talk Initiative. So please, if you're listening to this, think about if you're able to help contribute to our goal. So how can we get people involved to walk the talk? In summary, firstly, to sponsor a coding event in a school in need, we can help you.

00:11:04:17 - 00:11:26:08

So you out with that. Secondly, volunteer to help coordinate a coding adventure at a school near you and thirdly, explore the possibility of your organisation sponsoring a series of coding adventures in schools or co-sponsoring the creation of a brand new one It would be amazing, super exciting. And this is exactly what I wanted this podcast to be about.

00:11:26:08 - 00:11:49:10

My whole theme Walk The Talk is about showcasing what we can do to drive change, how people can easily get involved to drive change. And this is such a wonderful campaign initiative. Get with the Program, it's going to change the lives of more than your 100,000 goal of just right now. It's going to go much beyond that, but it needs the support, it needs the support of the industry.

00:11:49:10 - 00:12:16:19

And if this industry truly wants to be inspiring our next generation, as you say, we need to inspire at grassroot level and this is a wonderful way of doing that. That starts from only £360 and actually you can be directing an entire new coding adventure too. So please everybody get in touch with Jeni. I absolutely love get with the Program and everything that Jeni does and will be making sure my kids get to see it too.

00:12:17:16 - 00:12:28:08

There is no, there is no more belief in anything than that. So, Jeni, thank you for joining us on this podcast special, helping people understand how they can walk the talk for change. Thank you.