Ramiro Díaz Bustos has been working online with his friends on school projects, long before most children were meeting neighborhood friends over Zoom and taking classes remotely.
Ramiro, a 12-year-old who lives in Argentina, joined Tekkie Uni’s online coding classes with his friend Luca last year, when the boys were both 11.
“They both like technology and are friends at school,” says Ramiro’s mother Romina Bustos, a social worker. “Luca’s mother found the academy and asked us if we liked the idea of enrolling together.”
How do real-life friends take an online class together?
Ramiro and Luca started the class together — but apart. Although they live just three blocks from one another in Rosario, Argentina, each took the class from their own homes, and in their own ways. For example, Ramiro’s dad Gaspar sat in for the first several sessions, to make sure there were no technical difficulties, and that Ramiro — a naturally shy kid — had everything he needed in class.
But despite the fact that the boys were studying in their own homes, they also worked together on projects, says Romina. Although Ramiro and Luca could have met in person to work on their project, they chose to do it online.
“They were offered the choice of doing a project on paper or on Google Drive,” she said. “They decided to do it on Google Drive. They opened the file together, and they worked over a video call… I was amazed at how responsibly they worked. Time was set to connect and to work together. The work was amazing, the project was great, and the teacher was amazed at the result of work that was done online.”
What’s an online class like for a shy kid?
At first, Romina was concerned about Ramiro joining Tekkie Uni’s online classes.
Although he’s a responsible kid who gets good grades in school and does his homework without her having to push him to do so, he does have some challenges with communicating in school. He’s a little shy and speaking up in class is hard for him. He also struggles with his handwriting, which makes some aspects of his classwork — like language classes — challenging.
“This is why studying using technology is easier for him,” said Romina. Working on the computer helps Ramiro concentrate more on the content of his work than the words themselves.
When he signed up for Tekkie Uni, she was relieved to find out that he and Luca would be able to chat with the teacher and each other through private chats rather than with the whole group at once by voice or chat. She also knew that the students’ cameras would not be on, which would be helpful for Ramiro.
“He can ask the teacher a question without exposing himself,” she said. “Being able to ask through a chat helps him feel comfortable, which I think is a great benefit of the course.”
She did have some concerns, however, that Ramiro and Luca would have a difficult time joining the rest of the class, but she was pleasantly surprised. The boys integrated well and were able to communicate with their classmates.
What benefits can an online class have for a kid who is already a good student?
Ramiro worked on several projects, mostly by himself. His favorite thing about the course was building applications, downloading them to his phone and sending them to his family using WhatsApp.
“I very much remember one project that was an egg that had to be poked until it opened,” she said. “It took the whole family to poke it.”
According to his mother, Ramiro has learned to better manage computers and study online because of his time at Tekkie Uni. He’s also learned how to review his work.
“He used to do an exercise before but didn’t review it afterwards, and in programming it’s impossible not to review your work,” said Romina. “In coding if you do not get your result, you must go back to the beginning and look for errors. Now he understands the importance of reviewing programming processes in creating applications.”
Although some of Ramiro’s greatest benefits have been academic, his time at Tekkie brought the family together. He spent time with his father during the early weeks of the program and the whole family supported Ramiro in his course.
“I was also relieved by the fact that I didn’t have to take him anywhere, and I didn’t have to run, get out, get in,” said Romina. “Rather, he knew that we would be home and he would be in his own space, with his computer, and having his own space made him a more independent child.”