Founded in 2011, Canada Learning Code hosts in-person technology education classes for people across Canada, focusing on women, girls, people with disabilities, Indigenous youth and newcomers to Canada. So far, they’ve reached 35 communities and over 650,000 people. Due to the spread of the coronavirus, they had to quickly transition their education programs to an online method while simultaneously adapting to virtual ways of working. I recently spoke to the team at Canada Learning Code about how they used technology to serve the needs of their communities during COVID-19. Here’s what they told us.
How did your organization react when in-person programming was no longer feasible due to COVID-19?
Our programs were not designed to exist online pre COVID-19, so we had to learn by doing. Our main focus was to uphold a safe and inclusive learning environment and to stay true to our values. We built a task force with people from several teams to brainstorm, create, and test these new digital experiences. To make sure classes are interactive, we reduced the size to 15-20 and developed shorter workshops around topics like HTML coding. We also applied different teaching styles based on the age of the learner to keep our virtual experiences engaging for everyone.
What role did technology play in this transition?
As a charity with a presence across the country, it’s essential that our teams have tools to stay in constant communication with each other. Prior to COVID-19, we were already using digital tools like Gmail, Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, to maximize our productivity. Since G Suite was already part of our day-to-day operations, we’ve been able to quickly transition to remote work and adapt to the circumstances.
This accessibility is critical for Canada Learning Code, as it helps us to continue reaching communities in rural and remote areas. Since Google for Nonprofits provides these tools for free, we are able to bring down our costs significantly. For organizations like us, lowering operational costs helps us to invest and make more of an impact every year.
What tools do you use to reach audiences online?
We’ve used a lot of digital tools to build our programs over the years. Since June 2014, Google Ad Grants has provided free online advertising, resulting in an additional 5.92 million impressions and over 200,000 more clicks to our website. This would have cost us over $315,000 in five years. By using Google Ad Grants, we’ve allocated this money to developing and updating our content for our learning experiences. Working with a Google Account Strategist has helped us better target potential learners and volunteers throughout the years, and our click-through rate has increased.
How will this change Canada Learning Code in the future?
In the long term, we’re thinking about continuing online learning, in addition to our in-person programs. Our ambitious goal is to deliver 10 million learning experiences by 2027 with a focus on digital literacy. With support from Google, we can focus on our mission and empower individuals to be creators—and not just consumers—of technology.