Author Archives: Philip Colligan

Computing in schools: the report card

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Today the Royal Society published After the Reboot, a report card on the state of computing education in UK schools. It’s a serious piece of work, published with lots of accompanying research and data, and well worth a read if you care about these issues (which, if you’re reading this blog, I guess you do).

The headline message is that, while a lot has been achieved, there’s a long way to go before we can say that young people are consistently getting the computing education they need and deserve in UK schools.

If this were a school report card, it would probably say: “good progress when he applies himself, but would benefit from more focus and effort in class” (which is eerily reminiscent of my own school reports).

A child coding in Scratch on a laptop - Royal Society After the Reboot

Good progress

After the Reboot comes five and a half years after the Royal Society’s first review of computing education, Shut down or restart, a report that was published just a few days before the Education Secretary announced in January 2012 that he was scrapping the widely discredited ICT programme of study.

There’s no doubt that a lot has been achieved since 2012, and the Royal Society has done a good job of documenting those successes in this latest report. Computing is now part of the curriculum for all schools. There’s a Computer Science GCSE that is studied by thousands of young people. Organisations like Computing At School have built a grassroots movement of educators who are leading fantastic work in schools up and down the country. Those are big wins.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has been playing its part. With the support of partners like Google, we’ve trained over a thousand UK educators through our Picademy programme. Those educators have gone on to work with hundreds of thousands of students, and many have become leaders in the field. Many thousands more have taken our free online training courses, and through our partnership with BT, CAS and the BCS on the Barefoot programme, we’re supporting thousands of primary school teachers to deliver the computing curriculum. Earlier this year we launched a free magazine for computing educators, Hello World, which has over 14,000 subscribers after just three editions.

A group of people learning about digital making - Royal Society After the Reboot

More to do

Despite all the progress, the Royal Society study has confirmed what many of us have been saying for some time: we need to do much more to support teachers to develop the skills and confidence to deliver the computing curriculum. More than anything, we need to give them the time to invest in their own professional development. The UK led the way on putting computing in the curriculum. Now we need to follow through on that promise by investing in a huge effort to support professional development across the school system.

This isn’t a problem that any one organisation or sector can solve on its own. It will require a grand coalition of government, industry, non-profits, and educators if we are going to make change at the pace that our young people need and deserve. Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be working with our partners to figure out how we make that happen.

A boy learning about computing from a woman - Royal Society After the Reboot

The other 75%

While the Royal Society report rightly focuses on what happens in classrooms during the school day, we need to remember that children spend only 25% of their waking hours there. What about the other 75%?

Ask any computer scientist, engineer, or maker, and they’ll tell stories about how much they learned in those precious discretionary hours.

Ask an engineer of a certain age (ahem), and they will tell you about the local computing club where they got hands-on with new technologies, picked up new ideas, and were given help by peers and mentors. They might also tell you how they would spend dozens of hours typing in hundreds of line of code from a magazine to create their own game, and dozens more debugging when it didn’t work.

One of our goals at the Raspberry Pi Foundation is to lead the revival in that culture of informal learning.

The revival of computing clubs

There are now more than 6,000 active Code Clubs in the UK, engaging over 90,000 young people each week. 41% of the kids at Code Club are girls. More than 150 UK CoderDojos take place in universities, science centres, and corporate offices, providing a safe space for over 4,000 young people to learn programming and digital making.

So far this year, there have been 164 Raspberry Jams in the UK, volunteer-led meetups attended by over 10,000 people, who come to learn from volunteers and share their digital making projects.

It’s a movement, and it’s growing fast. One of the most striking facts is that whenever a new Code Club, CoderDojo, or Raspberry Jam is set up, it is immediately oversubscribed.

So while we work on fixing the education system, there’s a tangible way that we can all make a huge difference right now. You can help set up a Code Club, get involved with CoderDojo, or join the Raspberry Jam movement.

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Raspberry Pi and CoderDojo join forces

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We’ve got some great news to share today: the Raspberry Pi Foundation is joining forces with the CoderDojo Foundation, in a merger that will give many more young people all over the world new opportunities to learn how to be creative with technology.

CoderDojo is a global network of coding clubs for kids from seven to 17. The first CoderDojo took place in July 2011 when James Whelton and Bill Liao decided to share their passion for computing by setting up a club at the National Software Centre in Cork. The idea was simple: provide a safe and social place for young people to acquire programming skills, learning from each other and supported by mentors.

Photo: a mentor helps a child at a CoderDojo

Since then, James and Bill have helped turn that idea into a movement that reaches across the whole world, with over 1,250 CoderDojos in 69 countries, regularly attended by over 35,000 young Ninjas.

Raspberry Pi and CoderDojo have each accomplished amazing things over the last six years. Now, we see an opportunity to do even more by joining forces. Bringing together Raspberry Pi, Code Club, and CoderDojo will create the largest global effort to get young people involved in computing and digital making. We have set ourselves an ambitious goal: to quadruple the number of CoderDojos worldwide, to 5,000, by the end of 2020.

Photo: children and teenagers work on laptops at a CoderDojo, while adults help

The enormous impact that CoderDojo has had so far is down to the CoderDojo Foundation team, and to the community of volunteers, businesses, and foundations who have contributed expertise, time, venues, and financial resources. We want to deepen those relationships and grow that community as we bring CoderDojo to more young people in future.

The CoderDojo Foundation will continue as an independent charity, based in Ireland. Nothing about CoderDojo’s brand or ethos is changing as a result of this merger. CoderDojos will continue to be platform-neutral, using whatever kit they need to help young people learn.

Photo: children concentrate intently on coding activities at a CoderDojo event

In technical terms, the Raspberry Pi Foundation is becoming a corporate member of the CoderDojo Foundation (which is a bit like being a shareholder, but without any financial interest). I will also join the board of the CoderDojo Foundation as a director. The merger is subject to approval by Irish regulators.

How will this work in practice? The two organisations will work together to advance our shared goals, using our respective assets and capabilities to get many more adults and young people involved in the CoderDojo movement. The Raspberry Pi Foundation will also provide practical, financial, and back-office support to the CoderDojo Foundation.

Last June, I attended the CoderDojo Coolest Projects event in Dublin, and was blown away by the amazing projects made by CoderDojo Ninjas from all over the world. From eight-year-olds who had written their first programs in Scratch to the teenagers who built a Raspberry Pi-powered hovercraft, it was clear that CoderDojo is already making a huge difference.

Photo: two girls wearing CoderDojo t-shirts present their Raspberry Pi-based hovercraft at CoderDojo Coolest Projects 2016

I am thrilled that we’re going to be working closely with the brilliant CoderDojo team, and I can’t wait to visit Coolest Projects again next month to meet all of the Ninjas and mentors who make CoderDojo possible.

If you want to find out more about CoderDojo and how you can get involved in helping the movement grow, go here.

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Growing Code Club

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In November 2015 we announced that the Raspberry Pi Foundation was joining forces with Code Club to give more young people the opportunity to learn how to make things with computers. In the 18 months since we made that announcement, we have more than doubled the number of Code Clubs. Over 10,000 clubs are now active, in communities all over the world.

Photo of a Code Club in a classroom: six or seven children focus intently on Scratch programs and other tasks, and adults are helping and supervising in the background

Children at a Code Club in Australia

The UK is where the movement started, and there are now an amazing 5750 Code Clubs engaging over 85,000 young people in the UK each week. The rest of the world is catching up rapidly. With the help of our regional partners, there are over 4000 clubs outside the UK, and fast-growing Code Club communities in Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, France, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Ukraine. This year we have already launched new partnerships in Spain and South Korea, with more to come.

It’s fantastic to see the movement growing so quickly, and it’s all due to the amazing community of volunteers, teachers, parents, and young people who make everything possible. Thank you all!

Today, we are announcing the next stage of Code Club’s evolution. Drum roll, please…

Starting in September, we are extending Code Club to 9- to 13-year-olds.

Three girls, all concentrating, one smiling, work together at a computer at Code Club

Students at a Code Club in Brazil

Those in the know will remember that Code Club has, until now, been focused on 9- to 11-year-olds. So why the change?

Put simply: demand. There is a huge demand from young people for more opportunities to learn about computing generally, and for Code Club specifically. The first generations of Code Club graduates have moved on to more senior schools, and they’re telling us that they just don’t have the opportunities they need to learn more about digital making. We’ve decided to take up the challenge.

For the UK, this means that schools will be supported to set up Code Clubs for Years 7 and 8. Non-school venues, like libraries, will be able to offer their clubs to a wider age group.

Growing Code Club International

Code Club is a global movement, and we will be working with our regional partners to make sure that it is available to 9- to 13-year-olds in every community in the world. That includes accelerating the work to translate club materials into even more languages.

Two boys and a woman wearing a Code Club T-shirt sit and pose for the camera in a classroom

A Code Club volunteer and students in Brazil

As part of the change, we will be expanding our curriculum and free educational resources to cater for older children and more experienced coders. Like all our educational resources, the new materials will be created by qualified and experienced educators. They will be designed to help young people build a wide range of skills and competencies, including teamwork, problem-solving, and creativity.

Our first step towards supporting a wider age range is a pilot programme, launching today, with 50 secondary schools in the UK. Over the next few months, we will be working closely with them to find out the best ways to make the programme work for older kids.

Supporting Code Club

For now, you can help us spread the word. If you know a school, youth club, library, or similar venue that could host a club for young people aged 9 to 13, then encourage them to get involved.

Lastly, I want to say a massive “thank you!” to all the organisations and individuals that support Code Club financially. We care passionately about Code Club being free for every child to attend. That’s only possible because of the generous donations and grants that we receive from so many companies, foundations, and people who share our mission to put the power of digital making into the hands of people all over the world.

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P.A.R.T.Y.

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On 4 and 5 March 2017, more than 1,800 people got together in Cambridge to celebrate five years of Raspberry Pi and Code Club. We had cake, code, robots, explosions, and unicorn face paint. It was all kinds of awesome.

Celebrating five years of Raspberry Pi and Code Club

Uploaded by Raspberry Pi on 2017-03-10.

It’s hard to believe that it was only five years ago that we launched the first Raspberry Pi computer. Back then, our ambitions stretched to maybe a few tens of thousands of units, and our hope was simply that we could inspire more young people to study computer science.

Fast forward to 2017 and the Raspberry Pi is the third most successful computing platform of all time, with more than twelve and a half million units used by makers, educators, scientists, and entrepreneurs all over the world (you can read more about this in our Annual Review).

On 28 February, we announced the latest addition to our family of devices, the Raspberry Pi Zero W, which brings wireless connectivity and Bluetooth to the Pi Zero for an astonishing $10. You seemed to like it: in the four days between the product launch and the first day of the Birthday Party, we sold more than 100,000 units. We absolutely love seeing all the cool things you’re building with them!

Raspberry Pi Zero W

Celebrating our community

Low-cost, high-performance computers are a big part of the story, but they’re not the whole story. One of the most remarkable things about Raspberry Pi is the amazing community that has come together around the idea that more people should have the skills and confidence to get creative with technology.

For every person working for the Raspberry Pi Foundation, there are hundreds and thousands of community members outside the organisation who advance that mission every day. They run Raspberry Jams, volunteer at Code Clubs, write educational resources, moderate our forums, and so much more. The Birthday Party is one of the ways that we celebrate what they’ve achieved and say thank you to them for everything they’ve done.

Over the two days of the celebration, there were 57 workshops and talks from community members, including several that were designed and run by young people. I managed to listen to more of the talks this year, and I was really impressed by the breadth of subjects covered and the expertise on display.

All About Code on Twitter

Big thanks to @Raspberry_Pi for letting me run #PiParty @edu_blocks workshop and to @cjdell for his continuing help and support

Educators are an important part of our community and it was great to see so many of our Certified Educators leading sessions and contributing across the whole event.

Carrie Anne Philbin on Twitter

Thanks to my panel of @raspberry_pi certified educators – you are all amazing! #piparty https://t.co/0psnTEnfxq

Hands-on experiences

One of the goals for this year’s event was to give everyone the opportunity to get hands-on experience of digital making and, even if you weren’t able to get a place at one of the sold-out workshops, there were heaps of drop-in and ask-the-expert sessions, giving everyone the chance to get involved.

The marketplace was one of this year’s highlights: it featured more than 20 exhibitors including the awesome Pimoroni and Pi Hut, as well as some great maker creations, from the Tech Wishing Well to a game of robot football. It was great to see so many young people inspired by other people’s makes.

Child looking at a handmade robot at the Raspberry Pi fifth birthday weekend

Code Club’s celebrations

As I mentioned before, this year’s party was very much a joint celebration, marking five years of both Raspberry Pi and Code Club.

Since its launch in 2012, Code Club has established itself as one of the largest networks of after-school clubs in the world. As well as celebrating the milestone of 5,000 active Code Clubs in the UK, it was a real treat to welcome Code Club’s partners from across the world, including Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, France, New Zealand, South Korea, and Ukraine.

Representatives of Code Club International at the Raspberry Pi fifth birthday party

Representatives of Code Club International, up for a birthday party!

Our amazing team

There are so many people to thank for making our fifth Birthday Party such a massive success. The Cambridge Junction was a fantastic venue with a wonderful team (you can support their work here). Our friends at RealVNC provided generous sponsorship and practical demonstrations. ModMyPi packed hundreds of swag bags with swag donated by all of our exhibitors. Fuzzy Duck Brewery did us proud with another batch of their Irrational Ale.

We’re hugely grateful to Sam Aaron and Fran Scott who provided the amazing finales on Saturday and Sunday. No party is quite the same without an algorave and a lot of explosions.

Most of all, I want to say a massive thank you to all of our volunteers and community members: you really did make the Birthday Party possible, and we couldn’t have done it without you.

One of the things we stand for at Raspberry Pi is making computing and digital making accessible to all. There’s a long way to go before we can claim that we’ve achieved that goal, but it was fantastic to see so much genuine diversity on display.

Probably the most important piece of feedback I heard about the weekend was how welcoming it felt for people who were new to the movement. That is entirely down to the generous, open culture that has been created by our community. Thank you all.

Collage of Raspberry Pi and Code Club fifth birthday images

 

 

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Hello World – a new magazine for educators

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Today, the Raspberry Pi Foundation is launching a new, free resource for educators.

Hello World – a new magazine for educators

Hello World is a magazine about computing and digital making written by educators, for educators. With three issues each year, it contains 100 pages filled with news, features, teaching resources, reviews, research and much more. It is designed to be cross-curricular and useful to all kinds of educators, from classroom teachers to librarians.

Hello World is a magazine about computing and digital making written by educators, for educators. With three issues each year, it contains 100 pages filled with news, features, teaching resources, reviews, research and much more.

It is designed to be cross-curricular and useful to all kinds of educators, from classroom teachers to librarians.  While it includes lots of great examples of how educators are using Raspberry Pi computers in education, it is device- and platform-neutral.

Community building

As with everything we do at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Hello World is about community building. Our goal is to provide a resource that will help educators connect, share great practice, and learn from each other.

Hello World is a collaboration between the Raspberry Pi Foundation and Computing at School, the grass-roots organisation of computing teachers that’s part of the British Computing Society. The magazine builds on the fantastic legacy of Switched On, which it replaces as the official magazine for the Computing at School community.

We’re thrilled that many of the contributors to Switched On have agreed to continue writing for Hello World. They’re joined by educators and researchers from across the globe, as well as the team behind the amazing MagPi, the official Raspberry Pi magazine, who are producing Hello World.

print (“Hello, World!”)

Hello World is available free, forever, for everyone online as a downloadable pdf.  The content is written to be internationally relevant, and includes features on the most interesting developments and best practices from around the world.

The very first issue of Hello World, the magazine about computing and digital making for educators

Thanks to the very generous support of our sponsors BT, we are also offering the magazine in a beautiful print version, delivered for free to the homes of serving educators in the UK.

Papert’s legacy 

This first issue is dedicated to Seymour Papert, in many ways the godfather of computing education. Papert was the creator of the Logo programming language and the author of some of the most important research on the role of computers in education. It will come at no surprise that his legacy has a big influence on our work at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, not least because one of our co-founders, Jack Lang, did a summer internship with Papert.

Seymour Papert

Seymour Papert with one of his computer games at the MIT Media Lab
Credit: Steve Liss/The Life Images Collection/Getty Images

Inside you’ll find articles exploring Papert’s influence on how we think about learning, on the rise of the maker movement, and on the software that is used to teach computing today from Scratch to Greenfoot.

Get involved

We will publish three issues of Hello World a year, timed to coincide with the start of the school terms here in the UK. We’d love to hear your feedback on this first issue, and please let us know what you’d like to see covered in future issues too.

The magazine is by educators, for educators. So if you have experience, insights or practical examples that you can share, get in touch: contact@helloworld.cc.

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2017: inspiring young makers and supporting educators

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By any measure, the Raspberry Pi Foundation had a fantastic 2016. We ended the year with over 11 million Raspberry Pi computers sold, millions of people using our learning resources, almost 1,000 Certified Educators in the UK and US, 75,000 children regularly attending over 5,000 Code Clubs in the UK, hundreds of Raspberry Jams taking place all over the world, code written by schoolkids running in space (yes, space), and much, much more.

Tim Peake on Twitter

Fantastic to see 5,000 active Code Clubs in the UK, helping over 75,000 young people learn to code. https://t.co/OyShrUzAhI @Raspberry_Pi https://t.co/luFj1qgzvQ

As I’ve said before, what we achieve is only possible thanks to the amazing community of makers, educators, volunteers, and young people all over the world who share our mission and support our work. You’re all awesome: thank you.

So here we are, just over a week into the New Year, and I thought it might be a good time to share with you some of what we’ve got planned for 2017.

Young digital makers

At the core of our mission is getting more young people excited about computing, and learning how to make things with computers. That was the original inspiration for the Raspberry Pi computer and it remains our number-one objective.

One of the ways we do that is through Code Club, a network of after-school clubs for 9- 11-year-olds run by teachers and volunteers. It’s already one of the largest networks of after-school clubs in the world, and this year we’ll be working with our existing partners in Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, France, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Ukraine, as well as finding more partners in more countries, to bring Code Club to many more children.

Code Club

This year also sees the launch of Pioneers, our new programme for teen digital makers. It’s built around a series of challenges that will inspire young people to make things with technology and share their makes with the world. Check out the first challenge here, and keep watching the hashtag #MakeYourIdeas across your favourite social media platforms.

This is Pioneers #MakeYourIdeas

UPDATE – The first challenge is now LIVE. Head here for more information https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCUzza7LJog Woohoo! Get together, get inspired, and get thinking. We’re looking for Pioneers to use technology to make something awesome. Get together in a team or on your own, post online to show us how you’re getting on, and then show the world your build when you’re done.

We’re also expanding our space programme Astro Pi, with 250 teams across Europe currently developing code that will be run on the ISS by ESA French Astronaut Thomas Pesquet. And, building on our Weather Station project, we’re excited to be developing new ideas for citizen science programmes that get more young people involved in computing.

European Astro Pi Challenge – Code your experiment

British ESA astronaut Tim Peake is safely back on Earth now, but French ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet is onboard the ISS, keen to see what students from all over Europe can do with the Astro Pi units too.

Supporting educators

Another big part of our work is supporting educators who are bringing computing and digital making into the classroom, and this year we’re going to be doing even more to help them.

Certified Educators

We’ll continue to grow our community of official Raspberry Pi Certified Educators, with Picademy training programmes in the UK and US. Watch out for those dates coming soon. We’re also opening up our educator training to a much wider audience through a series of online courses in partnership with FutureLearn. The first two courses are open for registration now, and we’ve got plans to develop and run more courses throughout the year, so if you’re an educator, let us know what you would find most useful.

We’re also really excited to be launching a brand-new free resource for educators later this month in partnership with CAS, the grass-roots network of computing educators. For now, it’s top-secret, but if you’re in the Bett Arena on 25 January, you’ll be the first to hear all about it.

Free educational resources

One of the most important things we do at Pi Towers is create the free educational resources that are used in Code Clubs, STEM clubs, CoderDojos, classrooms, libraries, makerspaces, and bedrooms by people of all ages learning about computing and digital making. We love making these resources and we know that you love using them. This year, we want to make them even more useful.

resources

As a first step, later this month we will share our digital making curriculum, which explains how we think about learning and progression, and which provides the structure for our educational resources and programmes. We’re publishing it so that we can get feedback to make it better, but we also hope that it will be used by other organisations creating educational resources.

We’re also working hard behind the scenes to improve the content and presentation of our learning resources. We want to include more diverse content like videos, make it easier for users to track their own progress, and generally make the experience more interactive and social. We’re looking forward to sharing that work and getting your feedback over the next few months.

Community

Last, but by no means least, we will continue to support and grow the community around our mission. We’ll be doing even more outreach, with ever more diverse groups, and doing much more to support the Raspberry Jam organisers and others who do so much to involve people in the digital making movement.

Birthday Bash

The other big community news is that we will be formally establishing ourselves as a charity in the US, which will provide the foundation (see what I did there?) for a serious expansion of our charitable activities and community in North America.


As you can see, we’ve got big plans for the year. Let me know what you think in the comments below and, if you’re excited about the mission, there’s lots of ways to get involved.

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