The pupils of De Gagel primary school storm into VodafoneZiggo’s head office enthusiastically, ready for a morning full of technological gadgets. Today will certainly not be your average school day - it will be an exciting Experience Day instead. This means heading off to VodafoneZiggo’s Experience Centre for a voyage of discovery.

‘No food for a day or no Internet for a day?’ This quiz question appears on a big screen. ‘Huh, easy,’ says a pupil. ‘No food, of course. I am used to that from Ramadan.’ She ticks her choice on her smartphone. Her avatar immediately appears on the big screen next to ‘no food’. Just like it does for all her classmates. When it turns out that only the teachers have opted for a day without Internet, everyone bursts out laughing.

Learning and inspiring
This class from Utrecht’s De Gagel primary school has been invited for the Experience Day. It’s a fun and informative day that VodafoneZiggo has organised jointly with JINC. VZ (VodafoneZiggo) believes that everyone should be able to keep up in - and with - the digital society, which is why it has developed programmes for a whole host of target groups, including this Experience Day for pupils from disadvantaged neighbourhoods.

The aim is to inspire children and to introduce them to the technologies of both today and tomorrow. In the future, careers will require many more digital skills than they do now. These days, digital skills such as programming are vitally important. Children also learn how to use the Internet and social media safely and with awareness.

Quiz question number two appears on the screen: ‘Do you think you spend a lot of time online each day?’ ‘What is a lot?’ asks a boy in the back row with a broad grin on his face. ‘My father always allows me to spend an hour on my phone after school but I always forget the time. So I think I actually spend six hours a day online.’ Many of his classmates also conclude that ‘being online’ swallows a large chunk of their free time.

Creating your own game is child’s play
An enthusiastic cry rings out from the programming room: ‘Look! The rainbow is dancing around my unicorn!’ It was a bit of a struggle but with a little help from one of the coaches, one pupil has succeeded in getting the figures she chose herself to move on the screen. Proudly, she leans back in her chair to look at what she has created in Scratch, an easy-to-use programming environment. ‘It’s really great that this way you can make your own game!’

‘Let’s say that a friend sends you a videoclip of a classmate falling off his bike. What do you do?’

With this quiz question, the majority of the class chooses answer B: ‘It’s funny, so I’ll pass it on!’ This sets off a discussion that ends with slightly more nuanced answer: ‘For me, it depends on whether the falling classmate sends it himself or whether someone else did,’ says one pupil. Many pupils agree with this.

Peeking into the fibre node cabinet
Further on, a technical expert is showing a pupil what the inside of a fibre node cabinet looks like. The doors have been removed so that he can see all the components clearly. ‘In our neighbourhood too, we get the Internet via a cabinet like that’, says the boy, visibly impressed. ‘Through underground cables. I’ve never seen that before.’

‘I speak to my friends more often online than offline.’ Opinions are divided about this final quiz question. A large part of the class prefers to meet up in person. It’s fun to play outside, and friends are just much nicer in person. All the same, many children do prefer to be online. ‘It’s just nice to message each other a lot.’ Sometimes even if you’re only sitting next to each other!’

A whole experience richer
A pupil dances out of the Mini Ziggo Dome, where she’s been listening to a concert by Dutch DJ Armin van Buuren. ‘That was awesome! ‘I could really feel the vibrations from the music!’ She is really impressed by everything she has seen in the Experience Centre this morning. The Experience ends with the class reconvening in order to use the statements flying around to decide together what they as a class feel are important principles for interacting with each other online. This results in a unique ‘Connectivity Code’: a series of clearly defined rules agreed between all the pupils in the class. With heads full of beats and profound lessons learned about skilful, safe and aware Internet use and about cookies, tech careers and the Connectivity Code, the classmates and teachers head back to school. ‘WHAT an experience!’

Experience Days is a program funded by the Vodafone Netherlands Foundation. The foundation has been in existence since 2002 and aims to promote digital inclusion. The ambition is to help 1.6 million people move forward in society in the period 2020–2025 by using our technology and developing digital skills. In addition, the Foundation uses its employees for voluntary activities. The foundation is an independent organization, part of a worldwide network of 27 Vodafone Foundations.

Read more about the Vodafone Foundation

Read more about the Experience Centre