Indigenous educator teaches coding with music-based education program

Students will remix music by Indigenous artists Jayli Wolf, Dakota Bear and Samian using a free online code editor called EarSketch.

Child learning coding

Credit: QxQ Images/Alamy

Winnipeg-based teacher and curriculum developer Christine M’Lot has created an educational program that uses Indigenous music to teach computer science and coding skills to students in grades seven and above.

M’Lot’s Your Voice is Power program launched nationally in Canada on February 23, and will see students remixing music by Indigenous artists Jayli Wolf, Dakota Bear and Samian using a free online code editor called EarSketch. The program, which seeks to teach the basics of coding in an entertaining way for children, will be held in English, French, Ojibwe and Inuktitut.

The program is broken up into eight modules that will take approximately an hour each to complete, but there is no set timeline for participants and classes to finish the modules. Students are also encouraged to submit their remixes for a chance at one of two $5,000 scholarships, with a $1,000 cash prize for the teacher who is most successful in utilising the program.

“Your Voice is Power is a unique program, working to close gaps in the digital economy for Indigenous people,” Wolf told Indigenous media outlet Windspeaker. “Introducing youth to coding through music makes learning fun and accessible. It’s also vital that conversations about the true history of Indigenous people in Canada be discussed in classrooms through this program.”

M’Lot also added, “I would say I’m most proud of this one. I grew up listening to hip hop. And I’m interested in computer science. It was a natural fit.”

“Indigenous people are underrepresented in this [technology] field. Hopefully that will change by the next generation.”

M’Lot is currently stationed at the University of Winnipeg Collegiate, where she teaches English and Global Issues alongside a class on Truth and Reconciliation that is mandatory for the school’s Grade 9 students. The Truth and Reconciliation class tackles the topic of Residential Schools in Canada, as well as reviewing the history of colonisation and the relationship between the government and Indigenous communities.

Teachers and students in Canada can register for the program for free here.