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The fantastic project born in Belfast that turns kids into IT experts


Children discover how easy it is to improve their skills

Children discover how easy it is to improve their skills

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Stranmillis lecturer Ian Simons

Stranmillis lecturer Ian Simons


Children discover how easy it is to improve their skills

Like many of the best ideas in the world it started as a conversation at a kitchen table.

And now Stranmillis lecturer Ian Simons' Go Berserk books and online tutorials, co-authored with Will Moore, are helping children across Northern Ireland learn how to master the internet and create their own websites.

Our aspiring young IT gurus are being encouraged to learn coding and equip themselves with the skills employers increasingly look for.

In next week's Belfast Telegraph we will be running Go Berserk supplements to get children started on their programming journey. College lecturer Ian Simons, from the award-winning Belfast-based Go Berserk company, told the Belfast Telegraph it is providing resources to "encourage kids to get involved in coding at young age".

"We are trying to give all the young people in the province a chance to get involved in new digital skills and let Northern Ireland become a world class hub of excellence for IT," he said.

The Go Berserk team is committed to helping youngsters increase their confidence, and release their creativity by learning real code. "We have got kids doing this from seven and eight years of age," Ian said.

"We have an academic report out that shows it works. We have tested it and teachers and students are all able to do it and can't wait to do more.

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"The rest of the world is looking for these skills and I think we are ahead of the game and want to stay there.

"We want to be leaders rather than followers."

The project is being supported by a number of tech companies including Total Mobile, Kainos, Liberty IT and the CME Group.

The supplements featuring in this newspaper are the first three chapters of Ian's first book to "give people a taste of what to do".

"The book can be purchased from the Belfast Telegraph shop or buy it online at the Go Berserk website," he said. "We are running a competition in the paper next week with teachers, student teachers and pupils so make sure you check it out. Don't miss it. There are big prizes."

Tom Gray, the vice chair of the MATRIX ICT/Digital Horizon Panel and Kainos chief technical officer, praised Ian for his efforts.

"You need an educator to communicate the subject in the most compelling way," he said.

"Ian is a consummate educator. He has been a practicing teacher, working in Wellington, then Stranmillis and in his spare time he has created the Go Berserk books.

"They are a great way of introducing programming concepts to the next generation."

Tips to make your own site

1. Choose a topic that you are interested in.

2. Plan out carefully what you want to do.

3. Gather all the pictures, logos and other images you will want to use and keep them in a folder for easy access.

4. Produce a storyboard to show the position of the text, graphics and page layout that you want to use.

5. Use the Go Berserk books and free online tutorials to help you develop your website. Visit www.go-berserk.com

6. Save your work at regular intervals.

7. If you make a mistake don’t worry, check out www.go-berserk.com/htmlmistakes.php

8. When you use HTML be sure to check the spelling is in American English. For example: use center and color rather then centre and colour.

9. Use the online HTML checker www.go-berserk.com/htmlchecker.php to check your work.

10. Have fun while you’re doing it!

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