Kathryn Parsons is excited about Australia’s embrace of digital transformation, innovation culture and code in curriculum that she’s bringing her learning acceleration campaign Decoded here.
Parsons founded Decoded in 2011 while sitting in a pub in what would later become a hub for London’s tech start-up scene.
The pub conversation turned to the future. Parsons believed that future was “being written in lines of code” and fundamentally believed everyone could be part of it, if only they could get their head around technology.
“How many people can confidently say that they feel empowered by the technologies behind the screen? I ask that question a lot, and I have a feeling that only one percent of the world could confidently put their hand up to that question,” Parsons told Telstra’s Australian Digital Summit this week.
“That’s a real disparity. That feel’s really wrong.”
From that pub conversation, a challenge was created – could you take someone – anyone – with no apparent interest, skills or knowledge of technology, and get them to “learn so much about technology in a short period of time that they could create something – maybe even code an app in a day?”
“How could you turn people from feeling like they were these passive observers of the digital world into really active participants?” she said.
“We started Decoded with a challenge, with that mission impossible.”
Decoded started small – and slowly. But the early days produced some key learnings – none more important than it would take more than being educators to help Decoded reach its lofty goals.
“We realised we had to become campaigners, we couldn’t just become educators,” Parsons said.
“We had to get into governments, classrooms and the media and educate them about why code wasn’t just a nice-to-have but an absolute economic need.”
In four short years, she has taken Decoded to 45 cities, offering “accelerated learning experiences” where participants can learn enough about code, security, data management or digital leadership in a day to get excited to do more with it.
“There is a lust and passion in people to understand the technological world around them,” she said.
Decoded is now setting up shop in Sydney – it’s “third home” after London and New York, according to Parsons.
She believed Australia had three key ingredients for digital transformation that were all coming into play.
“There is a culture of innovation and creativity here. It’s also married with a passion for learning that’s absolutely standout for us, and digital is on the government and board agenda,” she said.
“Code has become a zeitgeist, and is being introduced into curriculums globally. I’m proud to have played a part of the UK’s national campaign to bring coding into the curriculum, and I’m excited to see it happening in Australia as well.”
Parsons also had advice for anyone else with a passion for something to go out and take action.
“If you’ve got a campaign within you, unleash it,” she said. “There’s never been anything more powerful.”