Tag Archives: education

Distributing Raspberry Pi computers to help families access education

Post Syndicated from Olympia Brown original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/distributing-raspberry-pis-to-help-families-access-education/

The closure of schools has called attention to the digital divide, which sees poorer families struggling or unable to access education*. The coronavirus pandemic didn’t cause this divide, but it has highlighted it and its impact on many people in our society.

As our Foundation CEO Philip outlined back in April, part of our response to the pandemic and social distancing measures is to send free Raspberry Pi computers to students who currently lack the technology to complete their school work at home. Generously funded by the Bloomfield Trust, we have started to distribute Raspberry Pis in the UK.

Who is receiving Raspberry Pis?

Our approach for this initiative is to work with partner charities that help us identify the right recipients for the computers; we want them to go to young people who don’t have a suitable device for completing their schoolwork in their home.

The first partner charity we’ve been working with, whose team has been so patient as we’ve learned together how to do this, are the incredible School Home Support, a youth organisation working to improve school attendance, behaviour, and engagement in learning. With their help, we’ve so far distributed more than 120 Raspberry Pi 4 computers (with 2GB RAM), together with all the peripherals including a screen. School Home Support were also able to secure funding to provide high-speed internet access to the recipients’ home so students can reliably connect to their schools.

Families receive a Raspberry Pi Desktop Kit and a screen. Our partner charity funds reliable internet access.

How are we helping them set up?

The young people set up their Raspberry Pis themselves, and we have provide detailed instructions to guide them through this process. Most of the families have never used a computer like Raspberry Pi, so they need encouragement and support to get up and running. This is being provided both by the excellent School Home Support practitioners, and by Raspberry Pi team members, who answer questions when recipients get stuck.

“My mum was confused by the setup at first, but having a call to explain it really helped, and now we see how easy it is to set up and use.”

Raspberry Pi recipient

Recipients are already benefiting

Before receiving these computers, many of the young people only had occasional access to their parents’ phone to find out what school work had been set for them, and to complete it.

“It’s much easier to do my schoolwork now on the bigger screen. I feel like I’m learning more.”

Raspberry Pi recipient

A young girl sitting at a desk using a Raspberry Pi computer

We’re getting feedback that the Raspberry Pis help recipients focus on their work; they now have their own space to work in and more time to complete schoolwork, as they’re no longer rushing to share a device with other family members.

“I don’t always enjoy doing homework, but it’s better now that I have my own computer to do my work.”

Raspberry Pi recipient

Having a Raspberry Pi has increased the students’ motivation, and it has reduced stress — for parents as well as children:

“The Raspberry Pi kit came at a time when I really needed it. Up until that point, T had to do his homework and access the school’s home learning using my phone, which was not very practical at all. This was made worse by the fact that he had to share my phone with his sister, which ended up causing a lot of arguments. He was so pleased to receive a computer he could use. At first he had a lot of fun playing different games on it, and I was surprised about how well he was able to understand and help me set it up. The only negative was that he enjoyed playing games on it a bit too much! I feel relieved that he has his own computer which he can use. It was very stressful and frustrating having to use my mobile phone. There were times when T would be using my phone to do his work and he would be interrupted if I got a phone call, which meant that he would have to log in again, and sometimes would lose his work.”

Parent of a Raspberry Pi recipient

What are we doing next?

It’s wonderful to hear stories like this of how our computers make a difference in people’s lives. We’re still learning lots: while many families have been able to get up and running easily and quickly, others are still overwhelmed because they are unfamiliar with the device. We know we need to do more to build their confidence.

As we’re learning, we’re also talking to our next charity partners in the UK to help us identify more recipients, and to help the recipients get set up on their new Raspberry Pi devices.

If you are part of an organisation that could partner with us to support families in need of access to technology, please email us at [email protected]. Be aware that your organisation would need to fund the families’ internet access.


* The impact of the digital divide on students has for example been reported on by BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT and by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

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Learn at home #4: All about Scratch

Post Syndicated from Katie Gouskos original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/learn-at-home-scratch-beyond-basics-community/

There’s no question that families have faced disruptions and tough challenges over the last few months. For the parents and carers who’ve been supporting their children with learning at home, it can feel overwhelming, stressful, rewarding — or all three! As many children are still carrying on with learning at home, we are supporting them with extra resources, and parents with support tutorials.

In our last blog post for parents, we talked to you about debugging — finding and fixing errors in code. This week we’re covering the amazing things young people can do and learn with Scratch — it’s not just for beginners!

Getting the most out of Scratch

Scratch is a block-based programming tool that lets you create lots of different projects. It’s often one of the first programming tools children use in primary school. We’ve made a video introduction to Scratch in case you’re less familiar with it.

If your child at home is ready to try more challenging coding tasks, Scratch is still a great tool for them, as they can use it to build some truly epic projects.

Joel Bayubasire CoderDojo

In this video, Mark shows you examples from the Scratch community and signposts useful resources that will support you and your children as they develop their confidence in Scratch.

Scratch is a great tool for building complex, unique, and challenging projects. For example, the Scratch game Fortnite Z involves 13,500 Scratch blocks and took more than four months to develop. People have also built astounding 3D graphic projects in Scratch!

3D model of a glycine molecule
A 3D model of a molecule, built in Scratch

You can find other amazing examples if you explore the Coolest Projects online showcase. Our free annual tech showcase for young people has lots of great Scratch projects: plenty of inspiration for you and your young people at home.

Exploring and learning in the Scratch community 

The Scratch community is a great place for young people to safely share their projects with each other all year round, and to like and comment on them. It’s a real treasure trove they can explore to find inspiration and learning opportunities, and for young people who are spending more time at home, it offers a way to connect to peers around the world.

In this video, Katharine shows you how the team behind Scratch keeps the community safe, where you as a parent can find the information you need, and how your child will engage with the community.

Code along with us! 

To keep young people entertained and learning, we’re running a Digital Making at Home series. You’ll find new, free code-along videos every Monday, with different themes and projects for all levels of experience. We have lots of Scratch code-alongs on offer! We also live-stream a code-along session every Wednesday at 14:00 BST at rpf.io/home.

Digital Making at Home from the Raspberry Pi Foundation V1

We want your feedback

We’ve been asking parents what they’d like to see as part of our initiative to support them and the young people they care for. They’ve sent us some great suggestions so far! If you’d like to share your thoughts too, email us at [email protected].

Sign up for our bi-weekly emails, tailored to your needs

Sign up now to start receiving free activities suitable to your child’s age and experience level straight to your inbox. And let us know what you as a parent or guardian need help with, and what you’d like more or less of from us.


PS All of our resources are completely free. This is made possible thanks to the generous donations of individuals and organisations. Learn how you can help too!

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How we are helping you with computing teaching methods

Post Syndicated from Sue Sentance original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/how-we-are-helping-you-with-computing-teaching-methods/

One aspect of our work as part of the National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE) is producing free materials for teachers about teaching methods and pedagogy in computing. I am excited to introduce these materials to you here!

Teachers are asking us about teaching methods

Computing was included in the national curriculum in England in 2014, and after this, continued professional development (CPD) initiatives became available to support teachers to feel confident in topics they had not previously studied. Much of the CPD focussed on learning about programming, algorithms, networking, and how computers work.

Instructor explaining corporate software specific to trainees in computer class. Man and women sitting at table, using desktop, pointing at monitor and talking. Training concept

More recently however, I’ve found that increasing numbers of teachers are asking for support around teaching methods, particularly for how to support students who find programming and other aspects of computing difficult. Computing is a relatively new subject, but more and more research results are showing how to best teach it.

We offer CPD with our online courses

As part of the NCCE, we produce lots of free resources to support teachers with developing knowledge and skills in all aspects of computing. The NCCE’s Computing Hubs offer remotely delivered sessions, and we produce interactive, in-depth, free online courses for teachers to take over 3 or 4 weeks. Some of these online courses are about subject knowledge, while others focus on how to teach computing, the area referred to as pedagogical content knowledge*. For example, two of our courses are Programming Pedagogy in Primary Schools and Programming Pedagogy in Secondary Schools. Our pedagogy courses draw on the expertise and experience of many computing teachers working with students right now.

We share best practices in computing pedagogy

But that’s not all! We continually share tried and tested strategies for use in the computing classroom to help teachers, and those training to teach, support students more effectively. We believe that computing is for everyone and as such, we need a variety of possible approaches to teaching each topic up our collective sleeves, to ensure accessibility for all our students.

We develop all of this material in collaboration with in-the-classroom-now, experienced teachers and other experts, also drawing upon the latest computing education research. Our aim is to give you great, practical ideas for how to engage students who may be unmotivated or switched off, and new strategies to help you support students’ understanding of more complex computing concepts.

We support you to do classroom action research

One of the findings from decades of educational research is that teacher action research in the classroom is an extremely effective form of CPD! Teacher action research means reflecting on what the barriers to learning are in your classroom, planning an intervention (often in the form of a specific change to your teaching practice), and then evaluating whether it engenders improvement. Doing this has positive impacts both on your expertise as a teacher and on your students’ learning!

To support you with action research, we’re launching a special programme for classroom action research in computing. This takes the form of an online course, facilitated by experts in the field, lasting over a six-month period. Find out more about this opportunity.

Share your experiences with us

Right now we’re in unusual times, and surviving various combinations of home learning and remote delivery with your classes may be your greatest concern. However you’re getting on, we’d love to hear from you about your classroom practice in computing. Your experience with different ways of teaching computing in the classroom will add to our collective understanding about what works for teaching students. You can share your feedback with us, or get in touch with our pedagogy team at [email protected].

Other ways to learn and stay in touch:

 

*Back in 1987, Lee Shulman wrote: “Pedagogical content knowledge represents the blending of content and pedagogy into an understanding of how particular topics, problems or issues are organised, represented, and adapted to the diverse interests and abilities of learners, and presented for instruction.”

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Learning with Raspberry Pi — robotics, a Master’s degree, and beyond

Post Syndicated from Ashley Whittaker original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/learning-with-raspberry-pi-robotics-a-masters-degree-and-beyond/

Meet Callum Fawcett, who shares his journey from tinkering with the first Raspberry Pi while he was at school, to a Master’s degree in computer science and a real-life job in programming. We also get to see some of the awesome projects he’s made along the way.

I first decided to get a Raspberry Pi at the age of 14. I had already started programming a little bit before and found that I really enjoyed the language Python. At the time the first Raspberry Pi came out, my History teacher told us about them and how they would be a great device to use to learn programming. I decided to ask for one to help me learn more. I didn’t really know what I would use it for or how it would even work, but after a little bit of help at the start, I quickly began making small programs in Python. I remember some of my first programs being very simple dictionary-type programs in which I would match English words to German to help with my German homework.

Learning Linux, C++, and Python

Most of my learning was done through two sources. I learnt Linux and how the terminal worked using online resources such as Stack Overflow. I would have a problem that I needed to solve, look up solutions online, and try out commands that I found. This was perhaps the hardest part of learning how to use a Raspberry Pi, as it was something I had never done before, but it really helped me in later years when I would use Linux more than Windows. For learning programming, I preferred to use books. I had a book for C++ and a book for Python that I would work through. These were game-based books, so many of the fun projects that I did were simple text-based games where you typed in responses to questions.

A family robotics project

The first robot Callum made using a Raspberry Pi

By far the coolest project I did with the Raspberry Pi was to build a small robot (shown above). This was a joint project between myself and my dad. He sorted out the electronics and I programmed the robot. It was a great opportunity to learn about robotics and refine my programming skills. By the end, the robot was capable of moving around by itself, driving into objects, and then reversing and trying a new direction. It was almost like an unintelligent Roomba that couldn’t hoover, but I spent many hours improving small bits and pieces to make it as easy to use as possible. My one wish that I never managed to achieve with my robot was allowing it to map out its surroundings. This was a very ambitious project at the time, since I was still quite inexperienced in programming. The biggest problem with this was calibrating the robot’s turning circle, which was never consistent so it was very hard to have the robot know where in the room it was.

Sense HAT maze game

Another fun project that I worked on used the Sense HAT developed for the Astro Pi computers for use on the International Space Station. Using this, I was able to make a memory maze game (shown below), in which a player is shown a maze for several seconds and then has to navigate that maze from memory by shaking the device. This was my first introduction to using more interactive types of input, and this eventually led to my final-year project, which used these interesting interactions to develop another way of teaching.

Learning programming without formal lessons

I have now just finished my Master’s degree in computer science at the University of Bristol. Before going to university, I had no experience of being taught programming in a formal environment. It was not a taught subject at my secondary school or sixth form. I wanted to get more people at my school interested in this area of study though, which I did by running a coding club for people. I would help others debug their code and discuss interesting problems with them. The reason that I chose to study computer science is largely because of my experiences with Raspberry Pi and other programming I did in my own time during my teenage years. I likely would have studied history if it weren’t for the programming I had done by myself making robots and other games.

Raspberry Pi has continued to play a part in my degree and extra-curricular activities; I used them in two large projects during my time at university and used a similar device in my final project. My robot experience also helped me to enter my university’s ‘Robot Wars’ competition which, though we never won, was a lot of fun.

A tool for learning and a device for industry

Having a Raspberry Pi is always useful during a hackathon, because it’s such a versatile component. Tech like Raspberry Pi will always be useful for beginners to learn the basics of programming and electronics, but these computers are also becoming more and more useful for people with more experience to make fun and useful projects. I could see tech like Raspberry Pi being used in the future to help quickly prototype many types of electronic devices and, as they become more powerful, even being used as an affordable way of controlling many types of robots, which will become more common in the future.

Our guest blogger Callum

Now I am going on to work on programming robot control systems at Ocado Technology. My experiences of robot building during my years before university played a large part in this decision. Already, robots are becoming a huge part of society, and I think they are only going to become more prominent in the future. Automation through robots and artificial intelligence will become one of the most important tools for humanity during the 21st century, and I look forward to being a part of that process. If it weren’t for learning through Raspberry Pi, I certainly wouldn’t be in this position.

Cheers for your story, Callum! Has tinkering with our tiny computer inspired your educational or professional choices? Let us know in the comments below. 

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Mathematics and programming: exploring the links

Post Syndicated from Sue Sentance original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/research-seminar-mathematics-programming-links/

“In my vision, the child programs the computer and, in doing so, both acquires a sense of mastery over a piece of the most modern and powerful technology and establishes an intimate contact with some of the deepest ideas from science, from mathematics, and from the art of intellectual model building.” – Seymour Papert, Mindstorms: Children, Computers, And Powerful Ideas, 1980

We owe much of what we have learned about children learning to program to Seymour Papert (1928–2016), who not only was a great mathematician and computer scientist, but also an inspirational educationalist. He developed the theoretical approach to learning we now know as constructionism, which purports that learning takes place through building artefacts that have meaning and can be shared with others. Papert, together with others, developed the Logo programming language in 1967 to help children develop concepts in both mathematics and in programming. He believed that programming could give children tangible and concrete experiences to support their acquisition of mathematical concepts. Educational programming languages such as Logo were widely used in both primary and secondary education settings during the 1980s and 90s. Thus for many years the links between mathematics and programming have been evident, and we were very fortunate to be able to explore this topic with our research seminar guest speaker, Professor Dame Celia Hoyles of University College London.

Dame Celia Hoyles

Professor Dame Celia Hoyles

Dame Celia Hoyles is a huge celebrity in the world of mathematical education and programming. As well as authoring literally hundreds of academic papers on mathematics education, including on Logo programming, she has received a number of prestigious awards and honours, and has served as the Chief Advisor to the UK government on mathematics in school. For all these reasons, we were delighted to hear her present at a Raspberry Pi Foundation computing education research seminar.

Mathematics is a subject we all need to understand the basics of — it underpins much of our other learning and empowers us in daily life. Yet some mathematical concepts can seem abstract and teachers have struggled over the years to help children to understand them. Since programming includes the design, building, and debugging of artefacts, it is a great approach for make such abstract concepts come to life. It also enables the development of both computational and mathematical thinking, as Celia described in her talk.

Learning mathematics through Scratch programming

Celia and a team* at University College London developed a curriculum initiative called ScratchMaths to teach carefully selected mathematical concepts through programming (funded by the Education Endowment Foundation in 2014–2018). ScratchMaths is for use in upper primary school (age 9–11) over a two-year period.

In the first year, pupils take three computational thinking modules, and in the second year, they move to three more mathematical thinking modules. All the ScratchMaths materials were designed around a pedagogical framework called the 5Es: explore, envisage, explain, exchange, and bridge. This enables teachers to understand the structure and sequencing of the materials as they use them in the classroom:

  • Explore: Investigate, try things out yourself, debug in reaction to feedback
  • Envisage: Have a goal in mind, predict outcome of program before trying
  • Explain: Explain what you have done, articulate reasons behind your approach to others
  • Exchange: Collaborate & share, try to see a problem from another’s perspective as well as defend your own approach and compare with others
  • bridgE: Make explicit links to the mathematics curriculum

Teachers in the ScratchMaths project participated in professional development (two days per module) to enable them to understand the materials and the pedagogical approach.

At the end of the project, external evaluators measured the childrens’ learning and found a statistically significant increase in computational thinking skills after the first year, but no difference between an intervention group and a control group in the mathematical thinking outcomes in the second year (as measured by the national mathematics tests at that age).

Celia discussed a number of reasons for these findings. She also drew out the positive perspective that children in the trial learned two subjects at the same time without any detriment to their learning of mathematics. Covering two subjects and drawing the links between them without detriment to the core learning is potentially a benefit to schools who need to fit many subjects into their teaching day.

Much more information about the programme and the materials, which are freely available for use, can be found on the ScratchMaths project’s website, and you can also read a research paper describing the project.

As at all our research seminars, participants had many questions for our speaker. Although the project was designed for primary education, where it’s more common to learn subjects together across the curriculum, several questions revolved around the project’s suitability for secondary school. It’s interesting to reflect on how a programme like ScratchMaths might work at secondary level.

Should computing be taught in conjunction or separately?

Teaching programming through mathematics, or vice versa, is established practice in some countries. One example comes from Sweden, where computing and programming is taught across different subject areas, including mathematics: “through teaching pupils should be given opportunities to develop knowledge in using digital tools and programming to explore problems and mathematical concepts, make calculations and to present and interpret data”. In England, conversely, we have a discrete computing curriculum, and an educational system that separates subjects out so that it is often difficult for children to see overlap and contiguity. However, having the focus on computing as a discrete subject gives enormous benefits too, as Celia outlined at the beginning of her talk, and it opens up the potential to give children an in-depth understanding of the whole subject area over their school careers. In an ideal world, perhaps we would teach programming in conjunction with a range of subjects, thus providing the concrete realisation of abstract concepts, while also having discrete computing and computer science in the curriculum.

Woman teacher and female students at a computer

In our current context of a global pandemic, we are continually seeing the importance of computing applications, for example computer modelling and simulation used in the analysis of data. This talk highlighted the importance of learning computing per se, as well as the mathematics one can learn through integrating these two subjects.

Celia is a member of the National Centre of Computing Education (NCCE) Academic Board, made up of academics and experts who support the teaching and learning elements of the NCCE, and we enjoy our continued work with her in this capacity. Through the NCCE, the Raspberry Pi Foundation is reaching thousands of children and educators with free computing resources, online courses, and advanced-level computer science materials. Our networks of Code Clubs and CoderDojos also give children the space and freedom to experiment and play with programming and digital making in a way that is concordant with a constructionist approach.

Next up in our seminar series

If you missed the seminar, you can find Celia’s presentation slides and a recording of her talk on our research seminars page.

In our next seminar on Tuesday 16 June at 17:00–18:00 BST / 12:00–13:00 EDT / 9:00–10:00 PDT / 18:00–19:00 CEST, we’ll welcome Jane Waite, Teaching Fellow at Queen Mary University of London. Jane will be sharing insights about Semantic Waves and unplugged computing. To join the seminar, simply sign up with your name and email address and we’ll email you the link and instructions. If you attended Celia’s seminar, the link remains the same.

 

*The ScratchMaths team are :

  • Professor Dame Celia Hoyles (Mathematics) & Professor Richard Noss (Mathematics) UCL Knowledge Lab
  • Professor Ivan Kalas, (Computing) Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia
  • Dr Laura Benton (Computing) & Piers Saunders, (Mathematics) UCL Knowledge Lab
  • Professor Dave Pratt (Mathematics) UCL Institute of Education

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What are the effects of the pandemic on education? | Hello World #13

Post Syndicated from Philip Colligan original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/education-coronavirus-hello-world-13/

How has computing education changed over the last few months? And how will the coronavirus pandemic affect education in the long term? In the introduction to our newest issue of Hello World, our CEO Philip Colligan reflects on the incredible work of front-line educators, and on the challenges educators and students will face.

Hello World issue 13 front cover

In just a few short weeks, the coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on every aspect of life, not least education. With 1.2 billion young people affected by the closure of schools, teachers have joined health and care workers, and the many others, who are on the front line of the fight against the virus.

As chair of governors at a state school here in Cambridge, I’ve seen first-hand the immense pressure that schools and teachers are under. The abrupt transition to emergency remote teaching, caring for the most vulnerable students, supporting families who are experiencing the health and economic devastation wrought by the virus, and doing all of this while looking after themselves and their loved ones. The word ‘heroic’ doesn’t feel nearly sufficient to describe the efforts of teachers all over the world.

At the Raspberry Pi Foundation, we wanted to learn about how different schools have responded, what’s working, what the challenges are, and crucially, what is happening to computing education. We spoke to teachers at primary schools, secondary schools, and further education colleges. Most were based in the UK, with a few in India and the US.

Even from this small collection of interviews, we saw incredible innovation and resilience, coupled with a determination to ensure that all young people could continue learning during the lockdown.

Most of the teachers that we spoke to were specialists in computing. Their expertise with technology has put them centre-stage, with many stepping into leadership roles, supporting the rapid roll-out of online learning, and providing invaluable support to colleagues and students alike. We hope that this leads to schools giving greater priority to computing education. Digital technologies are keeping the world connected and working. Equipping all young people with the ability to harness the power of computing has never been more vital.

We’ve also seen profound challenges. The digital divide has never been more apparent. Far too many young people lack access to a computer for learning at home. This is a problem that can be fixed at a cost that is trivial compared to the long-term economic impact of the educational disadvantage that it causes.

But we’re also hearing first-hand how educational disadvantage isn’t just about access to technology. Many families are struggling to support home learning, whether because of the condition of their housing, their work or caring responsibilities, or the struggle to put food on the table. Teachers have responded compassionately, offering practical support where it’s needed most, and planning now for how they will help students catch up when schools reopen.

We know that school closures disproportionately impact the most disadvantaged students. If we are going to reduce the long-term economic and social impact of the virus, there needs to be a huge global effort to invest in addressing the educational impact that it has caused.

As we start to figure out what a post-lockdown world might look like, the only thing that feels certain is we are facing a long period of disruption to formal education. We need to find new ways to combine online learning, classroom and remote teaching, mentoring, and non-formal learning experiences, to ensure that all young people, whatever their backgrounds, are able to thrive and fulfil their potential. The stories we’ve heard from these educators give me hope that we can, but they will need the support of government, industry, and nonprofits. The Raspberry Pi Foundation is committed to playing our part.

Get your free copy today!

Besides the Learning in lockdown feature, issue 13 of Hello World contains articles and opinion pieces on managing screen time, safeguarding in online lessons, and how the education landscape is shifting at an unprecedented rate.

We’ve also collected together some of the best free resources for online learning, and we share fantastic activities in our resources section.

Download your free copy to read about all this and more!

And if you’re an educator in the UK, you can take out a free subscription to receive print copies of Hello World.

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Learn at home #3: building resilience and problem solving skills

Post Syndicated from Katie Gouskos original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/learn-at-home-resilience-problem-solving-debugging/

With changes to school and work around the world, many parents and carers still aren’t sure what to expect over the next few weeks. While some children have returned to school, we know that many young people and families are still learning and working at home. We’re providing lots of free extra resources for young people, and we’re offering free support tutorials for parents who want to help their children understand more about the tools they’ll be using on their coding journey.

a kid doing digital making at home

In our last blog post for parents, we talked to you about Python, which is a widely used text-based programming language, and about Trinket, a free online platform that lets you write and run your code in any web browser.

This week we talk about the importance of resilience and problem solving as we cover debugging — finding and fixing errors in your code.

Debugging explained

When your child embarks on a coding project, expect to hear the phrase “It’s not working!” often. It’s really important to recognise that their code might not work on the first (or fourth) go, and that that’s completely OK. Debugging is a key process for young people who are learning how to code, and it helps them to develop resilience and problem solving skills.

Learning Manager Mac shows you tips and tricks for fixing Python code errors to help you build more confidence while you support your children at home.

Fixing errors in Python code

In this video, Learning Manager Mac will show you some tips and tricks for fixing Python code errors (also known as ‘debugging’) to help you build more confi…

Mac’s top tips for debugging

1. Check the instructions

If your child is following one of our online coding projects, the instructions are usually very detailed and precise. Encourage your child to read through the instructions thoroughly and see if they can spot a difference between their code and what’s in the instructions. You should find that many errors can be fixed by doing this!

2. Try, try and try again

Coding is iterative: programs are written in stages, with debugging during every stage. Errors in code are normal and very common, so mistakes in your child’s programs are to be expected. As a young person begins to develop coding skills, they start learning to problem-solve and persevere despite the errors, which will help them both on and off the computer. And the more they code, the quicker they’ll become at spotting and fixing errors.

Two kids doing digital making at home

3. Small changes make a big difference

Most of the coding problems your child will come across will be due to tiny mistakes, e.g. one letter or a piece of punctuation that needs changing. So during debugging, it’s helpful for both you and your child to frame the problem in this way: “It’s just one small thing, you are so close.” This helps them build resilience and perseverance, because finding one small error is much more achievable than thinking that the whole program is broken and they need to start over.

4. Say it out loud

When your child encounters a problem with their code, encourage them to talk you through their whole problem, without interrupting them or making suggestions. Programmers call this technique ‘rubber duck debugging’: when they encounter a problem with their code, they explain everything their code does to an inanimate object — such as a rubber duck! — to find the detail that’s causing the problem. For your child, you can play the part of the rubber duck and provide a supportive, listening ear!

Join in with Digital Making at Home

To keep young people entertained and learning, we’re running a Digital Making at Home series, which is free and accessible to everyone. New code-along videos are released every Monday, with different themes and projects for all levels of experience. We also stream live code-along sessions on Wednesdays at 14:00 BST at rpf.io/home!

a teenager doing digital making at home

Parent diary: Adapting to life online

Ben Garside is a Learning Manager at the Raspberry Pi Foundation and also a dad to three children aged between 6 and 8. Ben is currently homeschooling and working (and still smiling lots!). In this video, Ben shares his personal experience of trying to find the best way of making this work for his family, with a bit of trial and error and lots of flexibility.

Parent diary: Adapting to life online

Ben Garside is a Learning Manager at the Raspberry Pi Foundation and also a dad to three children aged between 6 and 8. Ben is currently homeschooling and wo…

Free online course: Getting Started with Your Raspberry Pi

You’ve got a Raspberry Pi computer at home and aren’t sure how to use it? Then why not sign up to our new free online course to find out all about how to set up your Raspberry Pi, and how to use it for everyday tasks or for learning to code!

Do you have feedback for us?

We’ve been asking parents what they’d like to see as part of our initiative to support young people and parents. We’ve had some great suggestions so far! If you’d like to share your thoughts, email us at [email protected].

Sign up for our bi-weekly emails, tailored to your needs

Sign up now to start receiving free activities suitable to your child’s age and experience level straight to your inbox. And let us know what you as a parent or guardian need help with, and what you’d like more or less of from us.

 

PS All of our resources are completely free. This is made possible thanks to the generous donations of individuals and organisations. Learn how you can help too!

The post Learn at home #3: building resilience and problem solving skills appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Learning AI at school — a peek into the black box

Post Syndicated from Sue Sentance original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/research-seminar-learning-ai-at-school/

“In the near future, perhaps sooner than we think, virtually everyone will need a basic understanding of the technologies that underpin machine learning and artificial intelligence.” — from the 2018 Informatics Europe & EUACM report about machine learning

As the quote above highlights, AI and machine learning (ML) are increasingly affecting society and will continue to change the landscape of work and leisure — with a huge impact on young people in the early stages of their education.

But how are we preparing our young people for this future? What skills do they need, and how do we teach them these skills? This was the topic of last week’s online research seminar at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, with our guest speaker Juan David Rodríguez Garcia. Juan’s doctoral studies around AI in school complement his work at the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training in Spain.

Juan David Rodríguez Garcia

Juan’s LearningML tool for young people

Juan started his presentation by sharing numerous current examples of AI and machine learning, which young people can easily relate to and be excited to engage with, and which will bring up ethical questions that we need to be discussing with them.

Of course, it’s not enough for learners to be aware of AI applications. While machine learning is a complex field of study, we need to consider what aspects of it we can make accessible to young people to enable them to learn about the concepts, practices, and skills underlying it. During his talk Juan demonstrated a tool called LearningML, which he has developed as a practical introduction to AI for young people.

Screenshot of a demo of Juan David Rodríguez Garcia's LearningML tool

Juan demonstrates image recognition with his LearningML tool

LearningML takes inspiration from some of the other in-development tools around machine learning for children, such as Machine Learning for Kids, and it is available in one integrated platform. Juan gave an enticing demo of the tool, showing how to use visual image data (lots of pictures of Juan with hats, glasses on, etc.) to train and test a model. He then demonstrated how to use Scratch programming to also test the model and apply it to new data. The seminar audience was very positive about the LearningML, and of course we’d like it translated into English!

Juan’s talk generated many questions from the audience, from technical questions to the key question of the way we use the tool to introduce children to bias in AI. Seminar participants also highlighted opportunities to bring machine learning to other school subjects such as science.

AI in schools — what and how to teach

Machine learning demonstrates that computers can learn from data. This is just one of the five big ideas in AI that the AI4K12 group has identified for teaching AI in school in order to frame this broad domain:

  1. Perception: Computers perceive the world using sensors
  2. Representation & reasoning: Agents maintain models/representations of the world and use them for reasoning
  3. Learning: Computers can learn from data
  4. Natural interaction: Making agents interact comfortably with humans is a substantial challenge for AI developers
  5. Societal impact: AI applications can impact society in both positive and negative ways

One general concern I have is that in our teaching of computing in school (if we touch on AI at all), we may only focus on the fifth of the ‘big AI ideas’: the implications of AI for society. Being able to understand the ethical, economic, and societal implications of AI as this technology advances is indeed crucial. However, the principles and skills underpinning AI are also important, and how we introduce these at an age-appropriate level remains a significant question.

Illustration of AI, Image by Seanbatty from Pixabay

There are some great resources for developing a general understanding of AI principles, including unplugged activities from Computer Science For Fun. Yet there’s a large gap between understanding what AI is and has the potential to do, and actually developing the highly mathematical skills to program models. It’s not an easy issue to solve, but Juan’s tool goes a little way towards this. At the Raspberry Pi Foundation, we’re also developing resources to bridge this educational gap, including new online projects building on our existing machine learning projects, and an online course. Watch this space!

AI in the school curriculum and workforce

All in all, we seem to be a long way off introducing AI into the school curriculum. Looking around the world, in the USA, Hong Kong, and Australia there have been moves to introduce AI into K-12 education through pilot initiatives, and hopefully more will follow. In England, with a computing curriculum that was written in 2013, there is no requirement to teach any AI or machine learning, or even to focus much on data.

Let’s hope England doesn’t get left too far behind, as there is a massive AI skills shortage, with millions of workers needing to be retrained in the next few years. Moreover, a recent House of Lords report outlines that introducing all young people to this area of computing also has the potential to improve diversity in the workforce — something we should all be striving towards.

We look forward to hearing more from Juan and his colleagues as this important work continues.

Next up in our seminar series

If you missed the seminar, you can find Juan’s presentation slides and a recording of his talk on our seminars page.

In our next seminar on Tuesday 2 June at 17:00–18:00 BST / 12:00–13:00 EDT / 9:00–10:00 PDT / 18:00–19:00 CEST, we’ll welcome Dame Celia Hoyles, Professor of Mathematics Education at University College London. Celia will be sharing insights from her research into programming and mathematics. To join the seminar, simply sign up with your name and email address and we’ll email the link and instructions. If you attended Juan’s seminar, the link remains the same.

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Meet your new robotic best friend: the MiRo-E dog

Post Syndicated from Ashley Whittaker original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/meet-your-new-robotic-best-friend-the-miro-e-dog/

When you’re learning a new language, it’s easier the younger you are. But how can we show very young students that learning to speak code is fun? Consequential Robotics has an answer…

The MiRo-E is an ’emotionally engaging’ robot platform that was created on a custom PCB  and has since moved onto Raspberry Pi. The creators made the change because they saw that schools were more familiar with Raspberry Pi and realised the potential in being able to upgrade the robotic learning tools with new Raspberry Pi boards.

The MiRo-E was born from a collaboration between Sheffield Robotics, London-based SCA design studio, and Bristol Robotics Lab. The cute robo-doggo has been shipping with Raspberry Pi 3B+ (they work well with the Raspberry Pi 4 too) for over a year now.

While the robot started as a developers’ tool (MiRo-B), the creators completely re-engineered MiRo’s mechatronics and software to turn it into an educational tool purely for the classroom environment.

Three school children in uniforms stroke the robot dog's chin

MiRo-E with students at a School in North London, UK

MiRo-E can see, hear, and interact with its environment, providing endless programming possibilities. It responds to human interaction, making it a fun, engaging way for students to learn coding skills. If you stroke it, it purrs, lights up, move its ears, and wags its tail. Making a sound or clapping makes MiRo move towards you, or away if it is alarmed. And it especially likes movement, following you around like a real, loyal canine friend. These functionalities are just the basic starting point, however: students can make MiRo do much more once they start tinkering with their programmable pet.

These opportunities are provided on MiRoCode, a user-friendly web-based coding interface, where students can run through lesson plans and experiment with new ideas. They can test code on a virtual MiRo-E to create new skills that can be applied to a real-life MiRo-E.

What’s inside?

Here are the full technical specs. But basically, MiRo-E comprises a Raspberry Pi 3B+ as its core, light sensors, cliff sensors, an HD camera, and a variety of connectivity options.

How does it interact?

MiRo reacts to sound, touch, and movement in a variety of ways. 28 capacitive touch sensors tell it when it is being petted or stroked. Six independent RGB LEDs allow it to show emotion, along with DOF to move its eyes, tail, and ears. Its ears also house four 16-bit microphones and a loudspeaker. And two differential drive wheels with opto-sensors help MiRo move around.

What else can it do?

The ‘E’ bit of MiRo-E means it’s emotionally engaging, and the intelligent pet’s potential in healthcare have already been explored. Interaction with animals has been proved to be positive for patients of all ages, but sometimes it’s not possible for ‘real’ animals to comfort people. MiRo-E can fill the gap for young children who would benefit from animal comfort, but where healthcare or animal welfare risks are barriers.

The same researchers who created this emotionally engaging robo-dog for young people are also working with project partners in Japan to develop ‘telepresence robots’ for older patients to interact with their families over video calls.

The post Meet your new robotic best friend: the MiRo-E dog appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

AWS Architecture Monthly Magazine: Education

Post Syndicated from Annik Stahl original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/architecture/aws-architecture-monthly-magazine-education/

Young man sitting on a stack of books with his laptopOne of the missions of the education industry is to educate the next generation of the industry-ready workforce. Whether K-12, higher education, or continuing education, enabling teachers and professors to effectively deliver curriculum and improve student performance is a goal of Education Technology (EdTech) and learning companies. Two trends for AWS use cases in education are: 1) accessible remote learning; and 2) remote collaboration. For brevity, there are other innovation trend areas in education that we didn’t focus on in our “Ask an Expert” interview despite their importance. Use cases around learning accessibility, student performance, and campus experience have taken advantage of Amazon Alexa, Amazon Lex, and a variety of AWS technology areas including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, data lakes, analytics, and mobile development. To dive deep into a wider range of education use cases, we invite everyone to look at our AWS Education blog.

In this month’s issue

For May’s Education issue, we asked our expert, Yuriko Horvath, about general architecture patterns in the education space as well as what education customers need to think about and ask themselves before considering AWS.

  • Ask an Expert: Yuriko Horvath, AWS Manager of Education for Solutions Architecture
  • Blog: How to Build a Chatbot for Your School in Less Than an Hour (with step-by-step video instructions)
  • Case Study: Virginia Tech: Building Modern Analytics on Amazon Web Services
  • Solution: Video on Demand on AWS
  • Whitepaper: Teaching Big Data Skills with Amazon EMR

How to access the magazine

We hope you’re enjoying Architecture Monthly, and we’d like to hear from you—leave us star rating and comment on the Amazon Kindle Newsstand page or contact us anytime at [email protected].

Making the best of it: online learning and remote teaching

Post Syndicated from Sue Sentance original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/research-seminar-online-learning-remote-teaching/

As many educators across the world are currently faced with implementing some form of remote teaching during school closures, we thought this topic was ideal for the very first of our seminar series about computing education research.

Image by Mudassar Iqbal from Pixabay

Research into online learning and remote teaching

At the Raspberry Pi Foundation, we are hosting a free online seminar every second Tuesday to explore a wide variety of topics in the area of digital and computing education. Last Tuesday we were delighted to welcome Dr Lauren Margulieux, Assistant Professor of Learning Sciences at Georgia State University, USA. She shared her findings about different remote teaching approaches and practical tips for educators in the current crisis.

Lauren’s research interests are in educational technology and online learning, particularly for computing education. She focuses on designing instructions in a way that supports online students who do not necessarily have immediate access to a teacher or instructor to ask questions or overcome problem-solving impasses.

A vocabulary for online and blended learning

In non-pandemic situations, online instruction comes in many forms to serve many purposes, both in higher education and in K-12 (primary and secondary school). Much research has been carried out in how online learning can be used for successful learning outcomes, and in particular, how it can be blended with face-to-face (hybrid learning) to maximise the impact of both contexts.

In her seminar talk, Lauren helped us to understand the different ways in which online learning can take place, by sharing with us vocabulary to better describe different ways of learning with and through technology.

Lauren presented a taxonomy for classifying types of online and blended teaching and learning in two dimensions (shown in the image below). These are delivery type (technology or instructor), and whether content is received by learners, or actually being applied in the learning experience.

Lauren Margulieux seminar slide showing her taxonomy for different types of mixed student instruction

In Lauren’s words: “The taxonomy represents the four things that we control as instructors. We can’t control whether our students talk to each other or email each other, or ask each other questions […], therefore this taxonomy gives us a tool for defining how we design our classes.”

This taxonomy illustrates that there are a number of different ways in which the four types of instruction — instructor-transmitted, instructor-mediated, technology-transmitted, and technology-mediated — can be combined in a learning experience that uses both online and face-to-face elements.

Using her taxonomy in an examination (meta-analysis) of 49 studies relating to computer science teaching in higher education, Lauren found a range of different ways of mixing instruction, which are shown in the graph below.

  • Lecture hybrid means that the teaching is all delivered by the teacher, partly face-to-face and partly online.
  • Practice hybrid means that the learning is done through application of content and receiving feedback, which happens partly face-to-face or synchronously and partly online or asynchronously.
  • Replacement blend refers to instruction where lecture and practice takes place in a classroom and part of both is replaced with an online element.
  • Flipped blend instruction is where the content is transmitted through the use of technology, and the application of the learning is supported through an instructor. Again, the latter element can also take place online, but it is synchronous rather than asynchronous — as is the case in our current context.
  • Supplemental blend learning refers to instruction where content is delivered face-to-face, and then practice and application of content, together with feedback, takes place online — basically the opposite of the flipped blend approach.

Lauren Margulieux seminar slide showing learning outcomes of different types of mixed student instruction

Lauren’s examination found that the flipped blend approach was most likely to demonstrate improved learning outcomes. This is a useful finding for the many schools (and universities) that are experimenting with a range of different approaches to remote teaching.

Another finding of Lauren’s study was that approaches that involve the giving of feedback promoted improved learning. This has also been found in studies of assessment for learning, most notably by Black and Wiliam. As Lauren pointed out, the implication is that the reason blended and flipped learning approaches are the most impactful is that they include face-to-face or synchronous time for the educator to discuss learning with the students, including giving feedback.

Lauren’s tips for remote teaching

Of course we currently find ourselves in the midst of school closures across the world, so our only option in these circumstances is to teach online. In her seminar talk, Lauren also included some tips from her own experience to help educators trying to support their students during the current crisis:

  • Align learning objectives, instruction, activities, assignments, and assessments.
  • Use good equipment: headphones to avoid echo and a good microphone to improve clarity and reduce background noise.
  • Be consistent in disseminating information, as there is a higher barrier to asking questions.
  • Highlight important points verbally and visually.
  • Create ways for students to talk with each other, through discussions, breakout rooms, opportunities to talk when you aren’t present, etc.
  • Use video when possible while talking with your students.
    Give feedback frequently, even if only very brief.

Although Lauren’s experience is primarily from higher education (post-18), this advice is also useful for K-12 educators.

What about digital equity and inclusion?

All our seminars include an opportunity to break out into small discussion groups, followed by an opportunity to ask questions of the speaker. We had an animated follow-up discussion with Lauren, with many questions focused on issues of representation and inclusion. Some questions related to the digital divide and how we could support learners who didn’t have access to the technology they need. There were also questions from breakout groups about the participation of groups that are typically under-represented in computing education in online learning experiences, and accessibility for those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). While there is more work needed in this area, there’s also no one-size-fits-all approach to working with students with special needs, whether that’s due to SEND or to material resources (e.g. access to technology). What works for one student based on their needs might be entirely ineffective for others. Overall, the group concluded that there was a need for much more research in these areas, particularly at K-12 level.

Much anxiety has been expressed in the media, and more formally through bodies such as the World Economic Forum and UNESCO, about the potential long-lasting educational impact of the current period of school closures on disadvantaged students and communities. Research into the most inclusive way of supporting students through remote teaching will help here, as will the efforts of governments, charities, and philanthropists to provide access to technology to learners in need.

At the Raspberry Pi Foundation, we offer lots of free resources for students, educators, and parents to help them engage with computing education during the current school closures and beyond.

How should the education community move forward?

Lauren’s seminar made it clear to me that she was able to draw on decades of research studies into online and hybrid learning, and that we should take lessons from these before jumping to conclusions about the future. In both higher education (tertiary, university) and K-12 (primary, secondary) education contexts, we do not yet know the educational impact of the teaching experiments we have found ourselves engaging in at short notice. As Charles Hodges and colleagues wrote recently in Educause, what we are currently engaging in can only really be described as emergency remote teaching, which stands in stark contrast to planned online learning that is designed much more carefully with pedagogy, assessment, and equity in mind. We should ensure we learn lessons from the online learning research community rather than making it up as we go along.

Today many writers are reflecting on the educational climate we find ourselves in and on how it will impact educational policy and decision-making in the future. For example, an article from the Brookings Institution suggests that the experiences of home teaching and learning that we’ve had in the last couple of months may lead to both an increased use of online tools at home, an increase in home schooling, and a move towards competency-based learning. An article by Jo Johnson (President’s Professorial Fellow at King’s College London) on the impact of the pandemic on higher education, suggests that traditional universities will suffer financially due to a loss of income from international students less likely to travel to universities in the UK, USA, and Australia, but that the crisis will accelerate take-up of online, distance-learning, and blended courses for far-sighted and well-organised institutions that are ready to embrace this opportunity, in sum broadening participation and reducing elitism. We all need to be ready and open to the ways in which online and hybrid learning may change the academic world as we know it.

Next up in our seminar series

If you missed this seminar, you can find Lauren’s presentation slides and a recording of her talk on our seminars page.

Next Tuesday, 19 May at 17:00–18:00 BST, we will welcome Juan David Rodríguez from the Instituto Nacional de Tecnologías Educativas y de Formación del Profesorado (INTEF) in Spain. His seminar talk will be about learning AI at school, and about a new tool called LearningML. To join the seminar, simply sign up with your name and email address and we’ll email the link and instructions. If you attended Lauren’s seminar, the link remains the same.

The post Making the best of it: online learning and remote teaching appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Learn at home: a guide for parents #2

Post Syndicated from Katie Gouskos original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/digital-making-at-home-parents-guide-python/

With millions of schools still in lockdown, parents have been telling us that they need help to support their children with learning computing at home. As well as providing loads of great content for young people, we’ve been working on support tutorials specifically for parents who want to understand and learn about the programmes used in schools and our resources.

If you don’t know your Scratch from your Trinket and your Python, we’ve got you!

Glen, Web Developer at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, and Maddie, aged 8

 

What are Python and Trinket all about?

In our last blog post for parents, we talked to you about Scratch, the programming language used in most primary schools. This time Mark, Youth Programmes Manager at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, takes you through how to use Trinket. Trinket is a free online platform that lets you write and run your code in any web browser. This is super useful because it means you don’t have to install any new software.

A parents’ introduction to Trinket

Sign up to our regular parents’ newsletter to receive regular, FREE tutorials, tips & fun projects for young people of all levels of experience: http://rpf.i…

Trinket also lets you create public web pages and projects that can be viewed by anyone with the link to them. That means your child can easily share their coding creation with others, and for you that’s a good opportunity to talk to them about staying safe online and not sharing any personal information.

Lincoln, aged 10

Getting to know Python

We’ve also got an introduction to Python for you, from Mac, a Learning Manager on our team. He’ll guide you through what to expect from Python, which is a widely used text-based programming language. For many learners, Python is their first text-based language, because it’s very readable, and you can get things done with fewer lines of code than in many other programming languages. In addition, Python has support for ‘Turtle’ graphics and other features that make coding more fun and colourful for learners. Turtle is simply a Python feature that works like a drawing board, letting you control a turtle to draw anything you like using code.

A parents’ introduction to Python

Sign up to our regular parents’ newsletter to receive regular, FREE tutorials, tips & fun projects for young people of all levels of experience: http://rpf.i…

Why not try out Mac’s suggestions of Hello world, Countdown timer, and Outfit recommender for  yourself?

Python is used in lots of real-world software applications in industries such as aerospace, retail banking, insurance and healthcare, so it’s very useful for your children to learn it!

Parent diary: juggling homeschooling and work

Olympia is Head of Youth Programmes at the Raspberry Pi Foundation and also a mum to two girls aged 9 and 11. She is currently homeschooling them as well as working (and hopefully having the odd evening to herself!). Olympia shares her own experience of learning during lockdown and how her family are adapting to their new routine.

Parent diary: Juggling homeschooling and work

Olympia Brown, Head of Youth Partnerships at the Raspberry Pi Foundation shares her experience of homeschooling during the lockdown, and how her family are a…

Digital Making at Home

To keep young people entertained and learning, we launched our Digital Making at Home series, which is free and accessible to everyone. New code-along videos are released every Monday, with different themes and projects for all levels of experience.

Code along live with the team on Wednesday 6 May at 14:00 BST / 9:00 EDT for a special session of Digital Making at Home

Sarah and Ozzy, aged 13

We want your feedback

We’ve been asking parents what they’d like to see as part of our initiative to support young people and parents. We’ve had some great suggestions so far! If you’d like to share your thoughts, you can email us at [email protected].

Sign up for our bi-weekly emails, tailored to your needs

Sign up now to start receiving free activities suitable to your child’s age and experience level, straight to your inbox. And let us know what you as a parent or guardian need help with, and what you’d like more or less of from us. 

PS: All of our resources are completely free. This is made possible thanks to the generous donations of individuals and organisations. Learn how you can help too!

 

The post Learn at home: a guide for parents #2 appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Digital making at home: a guide for parents

Post Syndicated from Katie Gouskos original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/digital-making-at-home-parents-guide/

This blog post is for parents. Specifically, it’s for parents who want to help their kids get into making things with technology but don’t know where to start.

Lots of us at the Raspberry Pi Foundation are parents too, and right now we’re also all trying to figure out how to keep our kids occupied, entertained, and learning useful things. So we recognise that families are currently facing lots of challenges, which is why we’re supporting parents and carers with learning for young people at home.

We already provide loads of resources and activities that are available for free, online, in up to 30 languages, and we’ll help you get your children set up and started.

A young person having fun with digital making at home

You don’t need any coding experience to get involved

All of our online projects for young people are completely free. They include step-by-step instructions and are easily filtered by level and topic. The projects are designed so that young people can complete them in no more than an hour.

You don’t need any coding experience yourself. The step-by-step instructions mean you can learn alongside your child, or, as long as they can read the instructions themselves, they can work independently on the projects.

A teenager having fun with digital making at home

Watch our support tutorials 

If you’re wondering where to start, or how digital making can work for your young people at home, take a look at our introduction video by Mark, our Youth Programmes Manager. He tells you about Scratch, a free graphical programming language developed by our friends at the Scratch Foundation (plus, it’s the language used to teach computing in most primary schools and a great place to start for beginners):

A parents’ introduction to the programming language Scratch

Find out more about the #RaspberryPi Foundation: Raspberry Pi http://rpf.io/ytrpi Code Club UK http://rpf.io/ytccuk Code Club International http://rpf.io/ytc…

He also takes you through our project site, which is where all the fun stuff happens:

How to use the Raspberry Pi projects site

Find out more about the #RaspberryPi Foundation: Raspberry Pi http://rpf.io/ytrpi Code Club UK http://rpf.io/ytccuk Code Club International http://rpf.io/ytc…

The Digital Making at Home initiative

We’re also offering a series of free weekly, instructor-led videos called Digital Making at Home, which have code-along instructions to help young people with fun projects they can do independently at home. Here’s more information about how you and your family can get involved.

Get involved in Digital Making at Home

Find out more about the #RaspberryPi Foundation: Raspberry Pi http://rpf.io/ytrpi Code Club UK http://rpf.io/ytccuk Code Club International http://rpf.io/ytc…

Sign up for our free content tailored to your needs

Sign up now to start receiving free activities suitable to your child’s age and ability straight to your inbox. And let us know what you as a parent or carer need help with, and what you’d like more or less of.

A child having fun with digital making at home using a tablet

What parents and carers say

“I started to try coding activities with my kids a few years ago (now aged 8 and 11). They really like the clear instructions from the Raspberry Pi projects site, it has helped build their confidence particularly when getting started. Their interest in coding has gone up and down over that time, but when I sense that they are losing interest I try to step back and not push it. They like coding simple games particularly, and changing the rules to make it easier for them to win!” Olympia, parent and Head of Youth Partnerships at the Raspberry Pi Foundation 

A girl with her Scratch project

“Finding independent activities is really hard – especially good ones that are also educational. Once we were up and running, Dylan (age 9) was able to follow the step-by-step video and make a game in Scratch by himself!”  Dan, step-parent 

A child having fun with digital making at home using a Crumble controller

“My younger daughter is on the autistic spectrum and really enjoys creating projects which appeal to her particular interests. So we often modify Scratch projects so that she can use different images or add in different sounds. Shifting the focus to things she particularly enjoys means that when we hit a bug, she is more motivated to persevere, fix it, and celebrate her success. Taking a child-centred approach is important for lots of children who want to be in control of their own learning journey.” Katharine, parent and Programme Coordinator at the Raspberry Pi Foundation 

“I introduced my son to coding in Scratch when he was 6. At the start, it was important to sit with him as he worked through little projects. I kept my hands away from his mouse and keyboard and let him explore the interface, with a bit of gentle guidance. Within no time he was independently creating his own projects, and using Scratch for his school work and home life. He even created a random Karate moves generator to help him prepare for a Karate grading. Eventually he wanted to move on though, and when Scratch became too limited we explored some HTML and CSS, and then a little Python. He’s now fully independent, and coding 3D games using Unity. It’s got to the point where he’s using a language that I have no experience with, so debugging just involves me asking him to explain his code and helping him to find solutions online.” Marc Scott, Parent and Senior Learning Manager at the Raspberry Pi Foundation

Our simple top tips (from Marc, Senior Learning Manager)

  • If possible, sit with your child and have them explain to you what they are doing. You don’t have to understand the code, but you can listen and ask questions. If they talk through their thought process, they’re more likely to be successful.
  • Maintain a hands-off approach: offer them suggestions rather than instructions, and keep your hands off their keyboard and mouse.
  • Getting things wrong is one of the best ways to learn. When they encounter bugs in their programs (which they will!), ask questions before giving answers. Try “Why do you think that didn’t work? or “Have you tried changing this bit of code?”
  • Pick tools that are accessible or familiar to the young person. If they like Scratch, then stick with it until they’re trying to do things so complicated that they need more advanced software.
  • If a young person is going to share their project online, you should remind them not to include personal information in it. Tip: Your child has probably learned about e-safety at school, so why not ask them about the rules they’ve learned in class?
  • Always ask the young person to show you what they have made, and show enthusiasm for their work. You may not have a clue what it is, or you might think it’s super simple, but they’ll be proud of it and encouraged if you are too!

PS: All of our resources are completely free. This is made possible thanks to the generous donations of individuals and organisations. Learn how you can help too!

The post Digital making at home: a guide for parents appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

How the Raspberry Pi Foundation is responding to the novel coronavirus (part 2)

Post Syndicated from Philip Colligan original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/our-work-to-support-young-people-at-home/

It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted a blog about how the Raspberry Pi Foundation was responding to the novel coronavirus, and I thought it would be useful to share an update. Writing this has helped me reflect on just how much has changed in such a short space of time.

Getting used to life in the lockdown

Like most of the world, we’ve been getting used to life in the lockdown. As an organisation, we’re very lucky that the vast majority of our work can be done remotely. We’ve moved all of our meetings and lots of events online. Yesterday, we held the first-ever Cambridge Computing Education Research Symposium as an online event, bringing together 250 researchers and practitioners to learn from each other.

Many of us have been figuring out how to combine working at home with additional daily caring responsibilities and homeschooling. Honestly, it’s a work in progress (in my house at least). We’ve introduced new flexible working policies, we’re working doubly hard to stay connected to each other, and we’re introducing initiatives to support well-being.

I am so grateful and frankly proud of the way that the Raspberry Pi team and all of our partners have responded to the crisis: taking care of each other, supporting the community, and focusing on how we can make the biggest positive contribution and impact.

Our mission has never been more vital

Our educational mission has never been more vital. Right now, over 1.5 billion young people aren’t able to access learning through schools or clubs due to the restrictions needed to stop the spread of the virus. Teachers and parents are doing their best to provide meaningful learning experiences at home and online. We have a responsibility and the ability to help.

We are taking four immediate actions to help millions of young people to learn at home during the crisis:

  1. Delivering direct-to-student learning experiences
  2. Supporting teachers to deliver remote lessons
  3. Helping volunteers run virtual and online coding clubs
  4. Getting computers into the hands of children who don’t have one at home

Digital Making at Home

Based on feedback from the community, we’ve launched a series of direct-to-student virtual and online learning experiences called Digital Making at Home. The idea is to inspire and support young people aged 7–17 who are learning at home, independently or with their parents, carers, or siblings. Taking our amazing library of free project resources (which are translated into up to 29 languages) as the starting point, we’re producing instructional videos that support different levels of skills. Each week we’re setting a theme that will inspire and engage young people to learn how to solve problems and express themselves creatively with technology.

Please check it out and let us have your feedback. We’ve got loads of ideas, but we really want to respond to what you need, so let us know.

You’ll hear more about Digital Making at Home and our ideas for it in my interview with Cambridge 105:


 

Supporting teachers to deliver remote lessons

We are working with partners in England (initially) to support teachers to deliver remote lessons on Computing and Computer Science. This work is part of the National Centre for Computing Education. We are adapting the teaching resources that we have developed so that they can be used by teachers who are delivering lessons and setting work remotely. We are designing a programme of online events to support learners using the Isaac Computer Science platform for post-16 students of Computer Science, including small-group mentoring support for both students and teachers.

All of our teaching and learning resources are available for free for anyone to use anywhere in the world. We are interested in working with partners outside England to find additional ways to make them as useful as possible to the widest possible audience.

Helping volunteers run virtual and online coding clubs

We support the world’s largest network of free coding clubs, with over 10,000 Code Clubs and CoderDojos reaching more than 250,000 young people on a regular basis. We are supporting the clubs that are unable to meet in person during the pandemic to move to virtual and online approaches, and we’ve been blown away by the sheer number of volunteers who want to keep their clubs meeting despite the lockdown.

We’re providing training and support to CoderDojo champions, Code Club organisers, educators, and volunteers, including providing free resources, support with handling issues such as safeguarding, and effective design and delivery of online learning experiences. We are also working with our network of 40 international partners to help them support the clubs in their regions.

Access to hardware

We know that a significant proportion of young people don’t have access to a computer for learning at home, and we’re working with incredibly generous donors and fantastic partners in the UK to get Raspberry Pi Desktop Kits distributed for free to children who need them. We’re also in discussions about extending the programme outside the UK.

Get involved

Everything we do is made possible thanks to an incredible network of partners and supporters. We have been overwhelmed (in a good way) by offers of help since the coronavirus pandemic took hold. Here are some of the ways that you can get involved right now:

  • Share what we’re doing. We need as many people as possible to know that we are offering free, meaningful learning experiences for millions of young people. Please help us spread the word. Why not start by sharing this blog with your networks or inside your company?
  • Share your expertise and time. We regularly mobilise tens of thousands of volunteers all over the world to run computing clubs and other activities for young people. We are supporting clubs to continue to run virtually and online. We also need more help with translation of our learning resources. If you have expertise and time to share, get in touch at [email protected].
  • Support us with funding. Now more than ever, we need financial support to enable us to continue to deliver meaningful educational experiences for millions of young people at home. You can donate to support our work here.

Stay safe and take care of each other

Wherever you are in the world, I hope that you and yours are safe and well. Please follow the local public health guidance. Stay safe and take care of each other.

Philip Colligan

CEO Raspberry Pi Foundation

The post How the Raspberry Pi Foundation is responding to the novel coronavirus (part 2) appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Digital Making at Home: Making games

Post Syndicated from Kevin Johnson original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/digital-making-at-home-making-games/

When you’re part of the Raspberry Pi Foundation community, you’re a part of a global family of young creators who bring things to life with the power of digital making. We imagine that, given the current changes we’re all navigating, there are probably more of you who are interested in creating new and exciting things at home. And we want to help you! One of the best things we can do right now is to tap into what connects us as a community, and that’s digital making. So, welcome to Digital Making at Home from the Raspberry Pi Foundation!

Welcome to Digital Making at Home from the Raspberry Pi Foundation

Subscribe to our YouTube channel: http://rpf.io/ytsub Help us reach a wider audience by translating our video content: http://rpf.io/yttranslate Buy a Raspbe…

What is Digital Making at Home?

Whether you wrote your first line of code years ago or minutes ago, or you’ve yet to get started, with Digital Making at Home we’re inviting you on a digital making adventure each week.

Digital Making at Home from the Raspberry Pi Foundation V1

At the start of each week, we will share a theme that’s designed to jumpstart your journey of creative expression and problem solving where you create a digital making project you’re proud of. Every week, we’ll have code-along videos led by people from our team. They will walk you through projects from our free projects collection, to give you a place to start and a friendly face to accompany you!

a girl using Scratch on a laptop at home

For those of you whose mother language isn’t English, our free project guides are available in up to 30 languages so far.

Share your digital making project with us!

Each week, when you’ve made something you love using digital making, you can share it with us! Just make sure you have your parent’s or guardian’s permissions first. Then share your project by filling out this form. You might find one of your projects featured in a future blog post for the whole community to see, but no matter what, we want to see what you created!

Just because we’re all at home, that doesn’t mean we can’t create together, so let’s kick off Digital Making at Home with this week’s theme:

This week, we’re making games

Playing a game is a fun way to pass the time, but why not take it to the next level and make your own game? This week, we invite you to create a game that you can play with your friends and family!

Let your imagination run free, and if you’re not sure where to start, here are three code-along videos to help you.

Beginner level

If you’re new to coding, we want to introduce you to Scratch, a block-based coding language that is perfect to start with.

Try out Archery, led by Mr C and his sidekick Xavier:

Digital Making at Home – [Archery] (beginner)

Subscribe to our YouTube channel: http://rpf.io/ytsub Help us reach a wider audience by translating our video content: http://rpf.io/yttranslate Buy a Raspbe…

Go to the free Archery project guide (also available in Polish).

Intermediate level

If you’re looking to go beyond the Scratch surface, dive a little deeper into the coding language with.

Try out CATS!, led by Christina:

Digital Making at Home – [Cats] (intermediate)

Subscribe to our YouTube channel: http://rpf.io/ytsub Help us reach a wider audience by translating our video content: http://rpf.io/yttranslate Buy a Raspbe…

Go to the free CATS! project guide (available in 30 languages).

Advanced level

If you’re all Scratched out, move on to Python, a text-based coding language, to take things up a notch.

Try out Turtle Race, led by Marc:

Digital Making at Home – [Turtle Race] (advanced)

Subscribe to our YouTube channel: http://rpf.io/ytsub Help us reach a wider audience by translating our video content: http://rpf.io/yttranslate Buy a Raspbe…

Go to the free Turtle Race project guide (available in 16 languages).

More inspiration for making games

If you’re creating a game in Scratch, check out the extra videos from Mr C in the ‘Digital Making at Home: Making games’ playlist. These will show you how to add a timer, or a score, or a game over message, or a cool starter screen to any Scratch game!

A girl with her Scratch project

And if you’re into Python coding and hungry for more creative inspiration, we’ve got you covered. Our own Wireframe magazine, which you can download for free, has a ton of resources about making games. The magazine’s Source Code series shows you how to recreate an aspect of a classic game with a snippet of Python code, and you can read articles from that series on the Raspberry Pi blog. And if that’s still not enough, take a look at our Code the Classics book, which you can also download for free!

Alright friends, you’ve got all you need, so let’s get digital making!

Share your feedback

We’d love to know what you think of Digital Making at Home, so that we can make it better for you! Let us know your thoughts by filling in this form.

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Using Raspberry Pi for deeper learning in education

Post Syndicated from Sian Williams Page original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/using-raspberry-pi-for-deeper-learning-in-education/

Using deeper learning as a framework for transformative educational experiences, Brent Richardson outlines the case for a pedagogical approach that challenges students using a Raspberry Pi. From the latest issue of Hello World magazine — out today!

A benefit of completing school and entering the workforce is being able to kiss standardised tests goodbye. That is, if you don’t count those occasional ‘prove you watched the webinar’ quizzes some supervisors require.

In the real world, assessments often happen on the fly and are based on each employee’s ability to successfully complete tasks and solve problems. It is often obvious to an employer when their staff members are unprepared.

Formal education continues to focus on accountability tools that measure base-level proficiencies instead of more complex skills like problem-solving and communication.

One of the main reasons the U.S. education system is criticised for its reliance on standardised tests is that this method of assessing a student’s comprehension of a subject can hinder their ability to transfer knowledge from an existing situation to a new situation. The effect leaves students ill-prepared for higher education and the workforce.

A study conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found a significant gap between how students felt about their abilities and their employer’s observations. In seven out of eight categories, students rated their skills much higher than their prospective employers had.

Some people believe that this gap continues to widen because teaching within the confines of a standardised test encourages teachers to narrow their instruction. The focus becomes preparing students with a limited scope of learning that is beneficial for testing.

With this approach to learning, it is possible that students can excel at test-taking and still struggle with applying knowledge in new ways. Educators need to have the support to not only prepare students for tests but also to develop ways that will help their students connect to the material in a meaningful manner.

In an effort to boost the U.S. education system’s ability to increase the knowledge and skills of students, many private corporations and nonprofits directly support public education. In 2010, the Hewlett Foundation went so far as to develop a framework called ‘deeper learning’ to help guide its education partners in preparing learners for success.

The principles of deeper learning

Deeper learning focuses on six key competencies:

    1. Master core academic content
    2. Think critically and solve
      complex problems
    3. Work collaboratively
    4. Communicate effectively
    5. Learn how to learn
    6. Develop academic mindsets

This framework ensures that learners are active participants in their education. Students are immersed in a challenging curriculum that requires them to seek out and acquire new information, apply what they have learned, and build upon that to create new knowledge.

While deeper learning experiences are important for all students, research shows that schools that engage students from low-income families and students of colour in deeper learning have stronger academic outcomes, better attendance and behaviour, and lower dropout rates. This results in higher graduation rates, and higher rates
of college attendance and perseverance than comparison schools serving similar students. This pedagogical approach is one we strive to embed in all our work at Fab Lab Houston.

A deeper learning timelapse project

The importance of deeper learning was undeniable when a group of students I worked with in Houston built a solar-powered time-lapse camera. Through this collaborative project, we quickly found ourselves moving beyond classroom pedagogy to a ‘hero’s journey’ — where students’ learning paths echo a centuries-old narrative arc in which a protagonist goes on an adventure, makes new friends, encounters roadblocks, overcomes adversity, and returns home a changed person.

In this spirit, we challenged the students with a simple objective: ‘Make a device to document the construction of Fab Lab Houston’. In just one sentence, participants understood enough to know where the finish line was without being told exactly how to get there. This shift in approach pushed students to ask questions as they attempted to understand constraints and potential approaches.

Students shared ideas ranging from drone video to photography robots. Together everyone began to break down these big ideas into smaller parts and better define the project we would tackle together. To my surprise, even the students that typically refused to do most things were excited to poke holes in unrealistic ideas. It was decided, among other things, that drones would be too expensive, robots might not be waterproof, and time was always a concern.

The decision was made to move forward with the stationary time-lapse camera, because although the students didn’t know how to accomplish all the aspects of the project, they could at least understand the project enough to break it down into doable parts and develop a ballpark budget. Students formed three teams and picked one aspect of the project to tackle. The three subgroups focused on taking photos and converting them to video, developing a remote power solution, and building weatherproof housing.

A group of students found sample code for Raspberry Pi that could be repurposed to take photos and store them sequentially on a USB drive. After quick success, a few ambitious learners started working to automate the image post-processing into video. Eventually, after attempting multiple ways to program the computer to dynamically turn images into video, one team member discovered a new approach: since the photos were stored with a sequential numbering system, thousands of photos could be loaded into Adobe Premiere Pro straight off the USB with the ‘Automate to Sequence’ tool in Premiere.

A great deal of time was spent measuring power consumption and calculating solar panel and battery size. Since the project would be placed on a pole in the middle of a construction site for six months, the students were challenged with making their solar-powered time-lapse camera as efficient as possible.

Waking the device after it was put into sleep mode proved to be more difficult than anticipated, so a hardware solution was tested. The Raspberry Pi computer was programmed to boot up when receiving power, take a picture, and then shut itself down. With the Raspberry Pi safely shut down, a timer relay cut power for ten minutes before returning power and starting the cycle again.

Finally, a waterproof container had to be built to house the electronics and battery. To avoid overcomplicating the process, the group sourced a plastic weatherproof ammunition storage box to modify. Students operated a 3D printer to create custom parts for the box.

After cutting a hole for the camera, a small piece of glass was attached to a 3D-printed hood, ensuring no water entered the box. On the rear of the box, they printed a part to hold and seal the cable from the solar panel where it entered the box. It only took a few sessions before the group produced a functioning prototype. The project was then placed outside for a day to test the capability of the device.

The test appeared successful when the students checked the USB drive. The drive was full of high-quality images captured every ten minutes. When the drive was connected back to Raspberry Pi, a student noticed that all the parts inside the case moved. The high temperature on the day of the test had melted the glue used to attach everything. This unexpected problem challenged students to research a better alternative and reattach the pieces.

Once the students felt confident in their device’s functionality, it was handed over to the construction crew, who installed the camera on a twenty-foot pole. The installation went smoothly and the students anxiously waited to see the results.

Less than a week after the camera went up, Houston was hit hard with the rains brought on by hurricane Harvey. The group was nervous to see whether the project they had constructed would survive. However, when they saw that their camera had survived and was working, they felt a great sense of pride.

They recognised that it was the collaborative effort of the group to problem-solve possible challenges that allowed their camera to not only survive but to capture a spectacular series of photos showing the impact of the hurricane in the location it was placed.

BakerRipleyTimeLapse2

This is “BakerRipleyTimeLapse2” by Brent Richardson on Vimeo, the home for high quality videos and the people who love them.

A worthwhile risk

Overcoming many hiccups throughout the project was a great illustration of how the students learned how to learn and
to develop an academic mindset; a setback that at the beginning of the project might have seemed insurmountable was laughable in the end.

Throughout my experience as a classroom teacher, a museum educator, and now a director of a digital makerspace, I’ve seen countless students struggle to understand the relevance of learning, and this has led me to develop a strong desire to expand the use of deeper learning.

Sometimes it feels like a risk to facilitate learning rather than impart knowledge, but seeing a student’s development into a changed person, ready to help someone else learn, makes it worth the effort. Let’s challenge ourselves as educators to help students acquire knowledge and use it.

Get your FREE copy of Hello World today

Issue 12 of Hello World is available now as a FREE PDF download. UK-based educators can also subscribe to receive Hello World directly to their door in all its shiny printed goodness. Visit the Hello World website for more information.

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Activities you can do at home this week!

Post Syndicated from Rik Cross original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/free-activities-to-do-at-home/

At the Raspberry Pi Foundation, our mission is to put the power of computing and digital making into the hands of people all over the world. We know that a lot of families around the globe are navigating school closures and practicing social distancing right now to keep their communities healthy and safe.

So in today’s post, we put together a list for you with some of our free online projects and resources that digital makers of all ages and experience levels can explore at home.

A family of digital makers (illustration)

For most of these projects, you don’t need any new software or hardware. And many of our online resources are available in multiple languages, so young learners can use them even if their mother language isn’t English!

Free activities for you at home

Beginner level:

  • Rock band: This activity is a great introduction to Scratch, a block-based coding language. You’ll learn how to get started with Scratch and start your dream music group. Rock on!
  • Pixel art: This is a great activity for anyone just getting started with programming. Grab some crayons or colored pencils and create your masterpiece!
  • Web page stickers: In this activity, you’ll learn the basics of HTML and create some stickers. We can’t wait to see what you make!

pixel art (illustration)

Intermediate level

  • Storytime with Python (the language not the snake!): Let your imagination run wild with this activity! You will use Python to create a program that generates a random story, based on what the user types in.
  • Meme generator: In this activity you will make a meme generator with HTML, CSS, and Javascript! Using an image of your choice (bonus points if the image is of your pet), you can create your own memes.

example of a meme

Advanced level

  • Getting started with GUIs: In this activity, you will create two simple GUIs (graphical user interfaces) in Python. This is where you can get fancy with buttons, menus, and even a text box!
  • Pride and Prejudice for zombies: Learn how to use Python web requests and regular expressions while creating a version of Pride and Prejudice that’s more appealing to zombies.

Not just for young learners

  • Build a web server with Flask: This is a great how-to project if you’d like to learn how to set up a web server and create a simple website using Flask, Python, and HTML/CSS. Be aware though, the guide may not always work smoothly, because of external updates.
  • Sign up for one of our free online courses. From programming to physical computing and running coding clubs, we’ve got something that will inspire you.
  • Check out The MagPi magazine! Download the free PDF of this month’s MagPi and read about the #MonthOfMaking, getting started with electronics, fancy ways to wear your Raspberry Pi, and more.

People creating a robot (illustration)

We are here to support you!

Our team is working hard to bring you more online learning experiences to support you, your children, and everyone in the community at this time. You can read our CEO Philip Colligan’s message about how we are responding to the novel coronavirus. And for people who are involved in running Code Clubs, CoderDojos, or Raspberry Jams, we’ve specifically put together guidance on how to keep your learners engaged.

We want to make sure digital makers of all ages have the resources they need to explore and create with code. What do you think of these activities, and what else would you like to see? Tell us in the comments below!

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Our approach to developing progression for teaching computing

Post Syndicated from Carrie Anne Philbin original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/developing-progression-for-teaching-computing/

Part of our work in the consortium behind the National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE) is to produce free classroom resources for teachers to deliver the Computing curriculum to students aged 5–16 in England. Our Director of Educator Support Carrie Anne Philbin describes how we define and represent progression in these resources.

For our work to develop a complete bank of free teaching resources that help teachers deliver the Computing curriculum in England, we knew that a strong progression framework is absolutely crucial. A progression framework is the backbone of any subject curriculum: it defines the sequence in which students learn, noting where core understanding of a topic is established in order to progress.

What’s the best approach to present progression?

We studied a lot of progression frameworks, examination specifications, and even some research papers. What we found is that there are two quite different ways of presenting progression that show what should be taught and when it should be taught, as well as information on how or why concepts should be taught.

Listing is one option

Firstly, there is the approach of creating a categorisation of skills and concepts into a list or table. Sequencing is shown by having objectives listed by Key Stage, year group, or even by learners’ age. Examples of this approach include the CAS computing progression pathways and the Massachusetts Digital Literacy and Computer Science Curriculum Framework. They are essentially lists of required knowledge that’s bundled by theme.

Mapping trajectories is another approach

Another approach is to use a map of possible trajectories through learning waypoints and importantly how they connect to each other. This approach highlights where prerequisite knowledge needs to be mastered before students can move on, as well as the dependent knowledge contained in other nodes that need to be mastered in order to progress.

Cambridge Mathematics are leading the way in “developing a flexible and interconnected digital Framework to help reimagine mathematics education 3-19”. We’ve been lucky enough to learn from their work, which has helped us to create learning graphs.

We develop learning graphs

For our free classroom resources, we organise computing content (concepts, knowledge, skills, and objectives) into interconnected networks we call learning graphs. We found that nodes often form clusters corresponding to specific themes, and we can connect them if they represent two adjacent waypoints in the learning process. Depending on the level of abstraction, the nodes in a learning graph contain anything ranging from the contents of a curriculum strand across an entire Key Stage, to the learning objectives of a six-lesson unit.

The learning graph for the Year 9 unit Representations: going audiovisual

The learning graph for the Year 9 unit ‘Representations: going audiovisual’. Click to embiggen.

Initially, the graphs we produce are in a fluid state: they uncover the structure of the content and the possible journeys through it, without being bound to a specific teaching pathway. As we develop the content further, the graphs eventually reach a solid state, where the nodes are arranged to reflect our suggestions on the order in which teachers could actually deliver the content.

Learning graphs are doubly useful

We believe that learning graphs are useful to teachers on a whole new level: they directly inform lesson planning, but they also add value by showing opportunities to assess understanding at landmark waypoints in a lesson or unit. By checking that students are grasping the concepts, teachers are able to think more about how they are teaching and can revisit knowledge that perhaps didn’t land with learners the first time.
Woman teacher and female students at a computer

We need teachers’ feedback

All progression frameworks are subjective, and because so far there’s only little research into computing education, we rely on teachers’ experience of combining the ‘what’ we teach and ‘how’ to teach it in order to help inform this work. If you’ve not taken a look at our learning graphs for the NCCE Resource Repository, access them via teachcomputing.org/resources and let us know your thoughts via [email protected].

A version of this article will be part of the upcoming issue of Hello World, our free magazine for computing educators, launching on 23 March. Follow Hello World on Twitter for updates!

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Attend our Cambridge Computing Education Research Symposium

Post Syndicated from Sue Sentance original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/cambridge-computing-education-research-symposium-2020/

Are you an academic, researcher, student, or educator who is interested in computing education research? Then come and join us in Cambridge, UK on 1 April 2020 for discussion and networking at our first-ever research symposium.

Dr Natalie Rusk from the MIT Media Lab is our keynote speaker

Dr Natalie Rusk from the MIT Media Lab is our keynote speaker

Join our symposium

At the Raspberry Pi Foundation, we carry out research that deepens our understanding of how young people learn about computing and digital making and helps to increase the impact of our work and advance the field of computing education.

As part of our research work, we are launching the Cambridge Computing Education Research Symposium, a new one-day symposium hosted jointly by us and the University of Cambridge.

The theme of the symposium is school-level computing education, both formal and non-formal. The symposium will offer an opportunity for researchers and educators to share their work, meet others with similar interests, and build collaborative projects and networks.

University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory

The William Gates Building in Cambridge houses the Department of Computer Science and Technology (Computer Laboratory) and will be the symposium venue

The symposium will take place on 1 April 2020 at the Department of Computer Science and Technology. The day will include a range of talks and a poster session, as well as a keynote speech from Dr Natalie Rusk, Research Scientist at the MIT Media Laboratory and one of the creators of the Scratch programming language.

Registration for the symposium is now open: book your place today!

Pre-symposium workshops and networking

When you register to attend, you’ll also have the chance to sign up for one of two parallel workshops taking place on 31 March 2020 at the Raspberry Pi Foundation office in Cambridge.

Workshop 1 concerns the topic of gender balance in computing, while in workshop 2, we’ll consider what research-in-practice looks like in the computing classroom.

The workshops will draw on the experiences of everyone who is participating, and they’ll provide a forum for innovative ideas and new opportunities for collaboration to emerge.

You’re also invited to join us on the evening of 31 March for an informal networking event over food and drink at the Raspberry Pi Foundation office — a great chance to meet, mingle, and make connections ahead of the symposium day.

Register for the symposium to secure your place at these events! We look forward to meeting you there.

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Is upgrade culture out of date?

Post Syndicated from Mac Bowley original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/upgrade-culture/

At Raspberry Pi, we’re interested in all things to do with technology, from building new tools and helping people teach computing, to researching how young people learn to create with technology and thinking about the role tech plays in our lives and society. Today, I’m writing about our habit of replacing devices with newer versions just for the sake of it.

Technology is involved in more of our lives than ever before: most of us carry a computer in our pocket everywhere we go. On the other hand, the length of time for which we use each individual piece of technology has grown very short. This is what’s referred to as upgrade culture, a cycle which sees most of us replacing our most trusted devices every two years with the latest products offered by tech giants like Apple and Samsung.

An illustration of four people using smartphones

How we got to this point is hard to determine, and there does not seem to be a single root cause for upgrade culture. This is why I want to start a conversation about it, so we can challenge our current perspectives and establish fact-based attitudes. I think it’s time that we, as individuals and as a collective, examine our relationship with new technology.

What is the natural lifespan of a device?

Digital technology is still so new that there is really no benchmark for how long digital devices should last. This means that the decision power has by default landed in the hands of device manufacturers and mobile network carriers, and for their profit margins, a two-year lifecycle of devices is beneficial.

Where do you see your role in this process as a consumer? Is it wrong to want to upgrade your phone after two years of constant use? Should phone companies slow their development, and would this hinder innovation? And, if you really need to upgrade, is there a better use for your old device than living in a drawer? These questions defy simple answers, and I want to hear what you think.

How does this affect the environment?

As with all our behaviours as consumers, the impact that upgrade culture has on the environment is an important concern. Environmental issues and climate change aren’t anything new, but they’re currently at the forefront of the global conversation, and for good reason.

Mobile devices are of course made in factories, and the concerns this raises have been covered well in many other places. The same goes for the energy needed to build technology. This energy could, at least in theory, be produced from renewable sources. Here I would like to focus on another aspect of the environmental impact device production has, which relates to the materials necessary to create the tiny components that form our technological best friends.

Some components of your phone cannot be created without extremely rare metals and other elements, such as silicon and lithium. (In fact, there are 83 stable non-radioactive elements in the periodic table, and 70 of them are used in some capacity in your phone.) Upgrade culture means there is high demand for these materials, and deposits are becoming more and more depleted. If you’re hoping there are renewable alternatives, you’ll be disappointed: a study by researchers working at Yale University found that there are currently no alternative materials that are as effective.

Then there’s the issue of how the materials are mined. The market trading these materials is highly competitive, and more often than not manufacturers buy from the companies offer the lowest prices. To maintain their profit margin, these companies have to extract as much material as possible as cheaply as they can. As you can imagine, this leads to mining practices that are less than ethical or environmentally friendly. As many of the mines are located in distant areas of developing countries, these problems may feel remote to you, but they affect a lot of people and are a direct result of the market we are creating by upgrading our devices every two years.

"Two smartphones, blank screen" by Artem Beliaikin is licensed under CC0 1.0

Many of us agree that we need to do what we can to counteract climate change, and that, to achieve anything meaningful, we have to start looking at the way we live our lives. This includes questioning how we use technology. It will be through discussion and opinion gathering that we can start to make more informed decisions — as individuals and as a society.

The obsolescence question

You probably also have that one friend/colleague/family member who swears by their five year old mobile phone and scoffs at the prices of the newest models. These people are often labeled as sticklers who are afraid to join the modern age, but is there another way to see them? The truth is, if you’ve bought a phone in the last five years, then — barring major accidents — it will most likely still function and be just as effective as it was when it came out of the box. So why are so many consumers upgrading to new devices every two years?

"Nextbit Robin Smartphone" by Bhavesh Sondagar is licensed under CC0 1.0

Again there isn’t a single reason, but I think marketing departments should shoulder much of the responsibility. Using marketing strategies, device manufacturers and mobile network carriers purposefully make us see the phones we currently own in a negative light. A common trope of mobile phone adverts is the overwrought comparison of your current device with a newly launched version. Thus, each passing day after a new model is released, our opinion of our current device worsens, even if it’s just on a subconscious level.

This marketing strategy is related to a business practice called planned obsolescence, which sees manufacturers purposefully limit the durability of their products in order to sell more units. An early example of planned obsolescence is the lightbulb, invented at the Edison company: it was relatively simple for the company to create a lightbulb that lasted 2500 hours, but it took years and a coalition of manufacturers to make a version that reliably broke after 1000 hours. We’re all aware that the lightbulb revolutionised many aspects of life, but it turns out it also had a big influence on consumer habits and what we see as acceptable practices of technology companies.

The widening digital divide

The final aspect of the impact of upgrade culture that I want to examine relates to the digital divide. This term describes the societal gap between the people with access to, and competence with, the latest technology, and the people without these privileges. To be able to upgrade, say, your mobile phone to the latest model every two years, you either need a great degree of financial freedom, or you need to tie yourself to a 24-month contract that may not be easily within your means. As a society, we revere the latest technology and hold people with access to it in high regard. What does this say to people who do not have this access?

"DeathtoStock_Creative Community5" by Denis Labrecque is licensed under CC0 1.0

Inadvertently, we are widening the digital divide by placing more value on new technology than is warranted. Innovation is exciting, and commercial success is celebrated — but do you ever stop and ask who really benefits from this? Is your new phone really that much better than the old one, or could it be that you’re mostly just basking in feeling the social rewards of having the newest bit of kit?

What about Raspberry Pi technology?

Obviously, this blog post wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t share our perspective as a technology company as well. So here’s Raspberry Pi Trading CEO Eben Upton:

On our hardware and software

“Raspberry Pi tries very hard to avoid obsoleting older products. Obviously the latest Raspberry Pi 4 runs much faster than a Raspberry Pi 1 (something like forty times faster), but a Raspbian image we release today will run on the very earliest Raspberry Pi prototypes from the summer of 2011. Cutting customers off from software support after a couple of years is unethical, and bad for business in the long term: fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. The best companies respect their customers’ investment in their platforms, even if that investment happened far in the past.”

“What’s even more unusual about Raspberry Pi is that we aim to keep our products available for a long period of time. So you can’t just run a 2020 software build on a 2014 Raspberry Pi 1B+: you can actually buy a brand-new 1B+ to run it on.”

On the environmental impact of our hardware

“We’re constantly working to reduce the environmental footprint of Raspberry Pi. If you look next to the USB connectors on Raspberry Pi 4, you’ll see a chunky black component. This is the reservoir capacitor, which prevents the 5V rail from dropping too far when a new USB device is plugged in. By using a polymer electrolytic capacitor, from our friends at Panasonic, we’ve been able to avoid the use of tantalum.”

“When we launched the official USB-C power supply for Raspberry Pi 4, one or two people on Twitter asked if we could eliminate the single-use plastic bag which surrounded the cable and plug assembly inside the box. Working with our partners at Kuantech, we found that we could easily do this for the white supplies, but not for the black ones. Why? Because when the box vibrates in transit, the plug scuffs against the case; this is visible on the black plastic, but not on the white.”

Raspberry Pi power supply with scuff marks

Raspberry Pi power supply with scuff mark

“So for now, if you want to eliminate single-use plastic, buy a white supply. In the meantime, we’ll be working to find a way (probably involving cunning origami) to eliminate plastic from the black supply.”

What do you think?

Time for you to discuss! I want to hear from you about upgrade culture.

  • When was the last time you upgraded?
  • What were your reasons at the time?
  • Do you think upgrade culture should be addressed by mobile phone manufacturers and providers, or is it caused by our own consumption habits?
  • How might we address upgrade culture? Is it a problem that needs addressing?

Share your thoughts in the comments!

Upgrade culture is one of the topics for which we offer you a discussion forum on our free online course Impact of Technology. For educators, the course also covers how to facilitate classroom discussions about these topics, and a new course run has just begun — sign up today to take part for free!

The Impact of Technology online course is one of many courses developed by us with support from Google.

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