Le_Quack
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Re: Getting Teachers Interested in RasPi

Sat Mar 03, 2012 1:18 pm

Hey all.

I'm an I.T. tech at a UK high school and I want our school to get some raspberry pi's when they come out. The only issue is I cannot for the life of me work out how to get the head of the vocation dept interested in the project (I.C.T in all forms falls into vocational at my school for some unfathomable reason).

I think one of the major issues is the fact none of the 6 I.T. staff have any background in I.T. This is such an issue I get roped into teaching one of the A level modules and do demo's in several other lessons.

So basically I'm asking for the teachers out there to tell me why they are excited about the project and if possible how they are thinking about deploying them in the school and which modules at what level (GCSE, AS A etc) they plan to use them in.

Many Thanks

Quack

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Mike Lake
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Re: Getting Teachers Interested in RasPi

Sat Mar 03, 2012 1:58 pm

Quack

You raise some very good points and I am speaking from the position in England.  (This forum gets read all over the world.)

Every man and his dog, right down to Michael Gove (who I very much doubt knows much about anything) is saying that what we are teaching in ICT is the wrong stuff.  After all, how many times do you have to learn about Microsoft Office in order to be able to do your homework with it?

Office, and using IT, is like using a pen or a calculator - it's just a tool.

We are becoming short of people who understand computers and can use them to create new products (hardware and software) which will generate business, employ people and contribute to the common good - and maybe move us back towards making things and generating real wealth rather than gambling it away in the City.

The RPi provides a single platform to handle everything from the highest level (applications, writing your homework) to the lowest level (climbing inside and making it do things no one has ever thought of before - ah, the power of the GPIO!)

The ship of Education turns slowly and every new Secretary of State promises to leave it alone so teachers can get on with the job and then promptly plays politics and changes everything from the top down (academies, free schools etc.)

Do we have enough of the right sort of teachers to teach computing at the lower level - to get down dirty with code?  We certainly have quite a lot because, despite the accent on applications, we do have lots of schools that do interesting things with computers and robotics etc.  Obviously we need many more such teachers and obviously the really good ones may be tempted away to make far more money in commercial computing.

Forums are not the place to draw up future policy on teaching computers.

Maybe we need to bring together those teachers who are doing good work, who can see the opportunities opened up by the RPi and who would be happy to work with people outside education (like me, an ex-teacher but now outside) who can help by making things happen.

The exam boards will take time to catch up - so the RPi is not going to improve grades (and meet expletive-deleted "targets") in the short term.

RPi is a weapon in the armoury of those of us who want to get kids excited by computers (not bore them to death with yet more wp, spreadsheets and PowerPoint) and who may then go on to work on developing things that will be a long-term benefit to us all.

Teaching computing should be about generating the enthusiasm to allow people to be creative - think of it as an art, not a science.
Life's single regret: not patenting dongles when we invented and named them to protect the Wordcraft word processor on the Commodore PET!

You can buy 31 RPi3s for the £639 price of one Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge smart phone - who buys this stuff?

meatballs
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Re: Getting Teachers Interested in RasPi

Sat Mar 03, 2012 4:46 pm

IT has never been great in schools, but at least when it started around in the late 80s and 90s, when I went throug,h nothing was polished so everything involved some hacking to get working. Maths teacher let us play around with logo, we did some BASIC etc. We even had those logo robots that you could program to run to drive around on the floor. The IT (or Maths) teacher probably ran the school network and could configure things as they liked.

Then as we got older we went on the PCs to do some graphs for maths and maybe a lesson or two on spreadsheets to produce more graphs. We took over the computer lab at lunchtimes bypassing the abysmal lockdowns and played network QuakeII at lunchtime. We fired off hacks that crashed our classmates PC over the network.

In A-Level computing I had to do assembly language, which university was too scared of until at least the second year, as they assumed everyone joined computer science with no programming background and spent a lecture on assigning and retrieving variables

Fast forward to 2006 when I did my ICT teacher training:
The ICT teacher doesn't have admin access on machines, they have to fill in a form to get software installed, they're not given the privileges to reset kids passwords. But they do have a smartboard to make fun and engaging lessons (although only one person can really use it at a time so how do you engage a whole classful with it), which is an expensive board for a projector to aim at.

They teach word processing, presentation software (without actually presenting), some spreadsheets (but avoided as the kids struggle with the maths), and databases (skipped over as soon as possible as they were complicated and really couldn't do anything that the kids could grasp as useful or interesting, which is fair enough).

If you're lucky you do web pages, but use software that abstracts you as far away from the HTML structure as possible (Matchware Mediator), and dont bother to look at web hosting, DNS, FTP, or even CGI).

Qualifications evolve around these skills, giving 4 GCSE equivalents and are relatively easy - kids with no hope of a C in English or Maths can achieve a C in these as they involve simple tasks repeatedly with no critical thinking. Schools pounce on them , some forcing everyone to do it at GCSE. There are sometimes interesting modules, but these are skipped over as generally not as easy as the other modules. They introduce some multimedia, video/sound editing etc which is nice but still mostly application based.

Hardly any schools do A level Computing, its all ICT or Applied ICT, which is more of the same stuff done at GCSE, perhaps with some VB or Macros for the advanced kids. Kids have to write essays on the Digital Divide etc. Few teachers would be confident to teach the A Level Computing either as most have done no programming and probably came from a Business with IT or Media Studies degree:

http://www.tda.gov.uk/get-into.....grees.aspx

(The numbers aint too bad from ICT, 46%, but it depends what is classed as an ICT degree. 22% art?! Engineering & each Science 1! Maths 3%!)
Scratch comes out, every school should be using it in some lessons (as they've ditched logo), but they dont.

Lego mindstorms is available, but hardly any schools have invested in this and have instead made sure there are lots of pcs for kids to access the internet, and play flash games, copy and paste stuff from wikipedia, and print out pictures for their art classes. Schools are spending £000s on Microsoft Windows and Office licenses when they could get linux and openoffice for free. They spend thousands on Virtual Learning Environments, when they could get Moodle for free. Decent technicians that would be happy and contented setting all this up are underpaid and have left. The only department that uses the VLE is IT, and one or two technical evangelists probably a science or language teacher, as they are the only ones where the kids have access during lessons, but it is only really used to share files as putting an assignment up and getting kids to read through it and work without teacher making them do work would be seen as a poor lesson.

The best IT/Computing lessons are occurring in maths and science if you're lucky as they are still doing things like running a weather station gathering data and importing it etc.

2010 - BECTA gets shut down, it did seem to produce some decent stuff, but I guess its actual impact in schools just wasn't good enough!

teach-ict.com (The goto place when you are off sick and need a worksheet to send in for the kids to do) What's New March 2012 sections has:
Adapted an eight page task sheet to make it suitable for Word 2010: basic editing task 5
Adapted a task sheet to make it suitable for Word 2010:setting tabs
Which says it all.

(I did notice they have created a Computing section which actually looks quite promising!)

The RPi tempts me back into teaching, but the pay isn't good enough now I've realised how valued my technical skills are in the marketplace, and I probably couldn't face the behaviour and stressful environment after a relaxed adult environment. However, there are a lot of IT professionals being, sadly, made redundant at the moment that were around when the BBC Microsystems and ZX Spectrums were around and have that mindset, if the government could get them in to the profession.

If I wanted back in it would need to be as head of department (or with someone with the same vision) with a budget to acquire a class set of mindstorms, and some RPis. Get Linux running on the PCs  even as dual boot just so kids have that exposure. IT lessons (drop the C(rap)) at GCSE would be optional and follow a challenging syllabus. A level would be Computing or one of the better 'vocational' qualifications like where kids have to design a network for a small business and actually set it up and have an array of other interesting and technically valuable modules.

Unfortunately the people with the mindset and the skills to improve school IT are doing interesting stuff in industry. Thats why the South East has had a shortage of IT teachers because those graduates go into IT jobs in London. There are some decent IT teachers in schools, that love all the techy stuff, and love the kids too, but they have to do awful qualifications to get good results for the league tables.

So to stop ranting and to help answer the  original question:

To get teachers to use it awareness and pressure needs to be put on school leadership to get them so when the ones that are interested ask, they can get em without a battle.

Schemes of work that do interesting things with them at different ages and levels with cheap components. For both a small set of RPis (4-5 between a class working in groups), or a full class set.

Some software might need to be provided to compile data from external sensors, which could be provided for lower years/less able. Or make source code available for adjustments, or so teachers can take sections out and get pupils to re-write functions (monitoring frequency, output format) etc.

[edited to stop side scrolling  - good post BTW! --scep]

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Re: Getting Teachers Interested in RasPi

Sun Mar 04, 2012 1:41 am

Well, the good thing about the RPi in relation to schools/educational institutes is that it offers teachers and teaching staff the opportunity to present to pupils/students the chance to experience IT beyond the NC/National curriculum.

I'm a classroom assistant at primary level (U.K.) with a background in Hardware; break/fix;  EPoS and  wireless survey Aironet engineering.

I'm often called upon by the school head to devise simple modules that contribute towards the curriculum (CfE) to help qualified teaching staff meet the secretarial standard of current curriculum ICT.

I'd be more than happy to buy a couple of RPi's from my own money and give up my unpaid lunch breaks to introduce kids to basic computing. And to be honest without meaning to cause deliberate disagreement with Mike Lake, I think forums ARE the very place to forge new thinking that can transcend from forums to actual classroom implementation. Otherwise what is the point of RPi ?

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Mike Lake
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Re: Getting Teachers Interested in RasPi

Sun Mar 04, 2012 10:16 am

In the olden days when I was a teacher I could teach what I liked and how I liked as long as that covered the core stuff.  I therefore taught from my strengths and from what interested me.  Secretaries of State may not like to it (none of them have ever stood in front of a class anyway) but WHAT is taught is arbitrary, it is how it is taught and the transferring the passion for learning from teacher to pupil that is important.

These days schools are target-driven (it is easy to measure "facts", harder to measure creativity and passion) and targets tend to be defined as SATS and exams.

There will always be some opportunities for individual teachers or schools to do their own thing but that's won't turn round the oil tanker that is education.

We could adopt a "well, my class (say 30 primary) or my classes (say 150 secondary) will be OK because I will do my own thing." which is fine and every teacher should be able to teach from his/her strengths.

Or, we could look at the bigger picture and try to turn the ship (syllabus) round.

The scale of the task in England:

State primary schools: 16,800
State secondary schools: 3,300
Total pupils in all schools: 8.1 million
State primary pupils: 4.1 million
State secondary pupils: 3.2 million

(Rest are nursery, special and private.  Source: http://www.education.gov.uk/rs.....ndex.shtml)

If we are going to get major commitment to a change to teaching about computers in schools (notice I do not use ICT or IT - let's call a spade a spade) we have to think bigger than individual classrooms.

1) We have to be clear WHAT it is we are trying to teach - and this is hard when we want it to be open-ended and creative - but, like most things, we do have to put the foundations (the bits and bytes) in place before we can let kids go off on flights of imagination.

2) We have to be clear what resources we need to do it with.  RPi is only one small part in this.

3) We have to get the stamp of approval from government (and they seem to be in the right mood at the moment so we should not waste the opportunity), local authorities, exam boards and "the senior management team".

The government has created a problem by promoting anarchy.  In the past 150 LAs controlled schools - now, most schools will go along the academy route so instead of dealing with 150 LAs and 150 advisors we will end up dealing with 20,000 individual schools!

4) We need a yardstick to measure success (because governments like things to be "measured" - even the immeasurable) - and I reckon we should use people from outside education to help determine this.

These days I happen to be in the business of inventing new products (software and hardware), getting them developed (i.e. employing people) and getting them sold.  I would be VERY happy to look from outside at what is done in schools and I am absolutely certain that other people in the software/electronics field would also be happy to help.  The RPi team is one example of people from outside wanting to help - there are many, many more.

5) We have to get the budget and stop wasting more money on Microsoft.

We can't do it as a bunch of personal anarchists - fun though that is (all the best creative people are the "sod the system, let's do it my way" type!)
Life's single regret: not patenting dongles when we invented and named them to protect the Wordcraft word processor on the Commodore PET!

You can buy 31 RPi3s for the £639 price of one Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge smart phone - who buys this stuff?

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scep
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Re: Getting Teachers Interested in RasPi

Sun Mar 04, 2012 11:45 am

Mike Lake said:

Maybe we need to bring together those teachers who are doing good work, who can see the opportunities opened up by the RPi and who would be happy to work with people outside education (like me, an ex-teacher but now outside) who can help by making things happen.
Computing at School does exactly this (obviously not Pi specific but it is on their radar).

P.S. It's fantastic to see threads like this on education: in-depth, considerate, informed and based on real experience. Cheers people!

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Mike Lake
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Re: Getting Teachers Interested in RasPi

Sun Mar 04, 2012 12:00 pm

scep

Many thanks for the link - absolutely spot-on organisation - I shall find out more - and join!

That's the problem with being in the commercial world - it takes a while to catch up with the educational Zeitgeist <g>
Life's single regret: not patenting dongles when we invented and named them to protect the Wordcraft word processor on the Commodore PET!

You can buy 31 RPi3s for the £639 price of one Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge smart phone - who buys this stuff?

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Re: Getting Teachers Interested in RasPi

Sun Mar 04, 2012 4:12 pm

Quack,

YES - http://www.computingatschool.org.uk/ is the place to go - sign up for free and suggest the teachers do the same.  They will quickly discover that:

a) computing and the teaching of programming will become an expectation made of all UK Secondary schools.

b) they are not alone - there are hundreds of teachers in exactly the same position as them.

c) help is at hand - the Computing at School Working Group is growing fast.  It is committed to helping teachers to close their knowledge gap so that they have nothing to fear from the change in emphasis from ICT to Computing.

Good luck

Graham Hastings

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glenn66
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Re: Getting Teachers Interested in RasPi

Sun Mar 04, 2012 7:50 pm

I've been an ICT advisory officer in a large LEA for the last 10 years and I wouldn't hold my breath about the RaspberryPi or anything else making much of a change in computer education.  Don't get me wrong, my own background is in programming and microelectronics, so at a personal level I think the R-Pi is a great idea, but as the saviour of school computing, I find it hard to see where it fits in.

I was recently at an exam planning conference with representatives from schools, higher education and industry and the message was simple; all that really counted were Visual Basic and C (.Net) and maybe a bit of Java, but even web programming (PHP for example) wasn't on the agenda.  Schools are under time and target pressure and will deliver what the examinations require and nothing much else.  The best way to do this is with a desktop or laptop computer, not a circuit board.

At primary level, the picture is a little different as Scratch is popular and there are ways to connect it to the Lego Mindstorms kit, which is exciting for 10 and 11 year olds.

kirbyman62
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Re: Getting Teachers Interested in RasPi

Sun Mar 04, 2012 11:07 pm

I"m 15 and I"m taking Computing at GCSE. I love it (it"s what got me interested in programming and hence RPi), but it"s very easy. Based on the coursework I"ve done, I"ve basically passed anyway, and I haven"t taken the exam yet.

We code in Visual BASIC.Net and are given relatively simple tasks to do, though we are required to do proper documentation on planning, testing etc.

The exam teaches things such as hardware and software, how the CPU works, image and sound files and things like that (the dreaded databases are included as well unfortunatly).

However, despite this, everyone in our rather small group, bar myself and a couple of friends are really struggling, and wish they"d never have taken it. Compare this to ICT, which has a lot of students, a lot who say it"s incredibly dull and some claim they wish they"d done Computing. You can"t win.

I myself took AiDA, equivilent to one GCSE in ICT in Year 9, which would"ve meant I was 13 at the time I think, and I got an A. It was incredibly easy looking back.

I think something such as RPi could be the answer, it provides something interesting and lets people get creative, which is stimulating for people such as myself, and I shall be asking my teacher about it tomorrow.

So there"s my viewpoint, sorry if there are any mistakes, this is typed on my phone.

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Mike Lake
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Re: Getting Teachers Interested in RasPi

Mon Mar 05, 2012 9:15 am

Glenn

Obviously you have had a very negative experience and yes it will be hard to shift the mindset of some people - especially those in comfy well paid jobs who don't want the boat rocked.

I worry about the term "industry representative". I have a small independent software company and we have been going for over 30 years. When I recruit people just about the last question I ask is "what language do you use?" I am far more interested on their ability to think creatively and their having a sound grasp of the fundamentals of computer science. My standard technique is to set a problem, give them an hour to develop a strategy to solve it and then discuss it - you learn far more that way than a check-list of languages learnt! One of my best Senior Systems Designers left school at 18 with no formal computing qualifications - though he has a superb grasp of Computer Science! Another got a first in Computer Science at Cambridge.

If the "industry representatives" are people like Microsoft (i.e. employees rather than principles) then it is not surprising they toe the party line and promote specific tools - preferably their own. I am not suggesting that one should never trust big corporations (though it is a healthy starting point) - but they have an agenda and everything they say should be taken with a large pinch of salt.

We are not into "training", we are into educating (we provide the enabling functions to get people through life) and, as we all know, computing is not just about programming - when you do have to write some code you can pick and chose whichever language you like. Personally, when I need to prototype an idea, I pick VB6 which is ancient but I can hack it at high speed - my professional staff pick whichever tool they need for the task in hand: C++, Ruby, Java whatever (never Visual Basic of whatever flavour!)

Have a read of the Royal Society report produced in January - "Shutdown or restart - computing in schools"

This is a really positive document - it covers all the issues, warts and all, and makes some really positive suggestions. One of the key ones is to split the subject - to make it clear that what goes under "ICT" in schools has little or nothing to do with Computer Science. Everyone should learn to touch type (it saves so much time throughout life!), everyone should learn to use basic office tools (not necessarily Microsoft's - RPi can handle the lot for free under LibreOffice) - but that doesn't take very long - a term at the most. Not everyone will want to, or be capable of, doing Computer Science - and it certainly it should be taught creatively but not dumbed down to "one size fits all" in order for everyone to do it.

If you have direct or indirect access to the mailing list for the meeting you mention I would strongly recommend that you ask them all to read this report.

There is a mood for change expressed in the speech by the Secretary of State. Someone (Royal Society?) must have got to him and influenced him to say what he did - he certainly could not have thought it up off his own bat.

We need to get that report on the agenda of every meeting: in-school, LAs, exam-boards and national bodies.
Life's single regret: not patenting dongles when we invented and named them to protect the Wordcraft word processor on the Commodore PET!

You can buy 31 RPi3s for the £639 price of one Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge smart phone - who buys this stuff?

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Re: Getting Teachers Interested in RasPi

Mon Mar 05, 2012 12:14 pm

Glenn said:


so at a personal level I think the R-Pi is a great idea, but as the saviour of school computing, I find it hard to see where it fits in


If you'd read the "About us" page you'd know that this is a ridiculous straw man. Change doesn't come from nowhere - what initiatives, for example, has your LEA taken in the past decade to improve the teaching of ICT and Computing in schools? If it's anything like my LEA, I suspect very few. The Foundation are very clear that the RasPi isn't a panacea. But it's something. It's part of a toolkit for change.


Schools are under time and target pressure and will deliver what the examinations require and nothing much else.


And this model of education needs changing (oh, how it needs changing!) It concerns me when non-teachers tell me, "well, that's how things are, don't rock the boat, get used to it". To me, teaching is all about boat rocking.  And if the proposed curriculum changes go through, there won't be any targets for Key Stage 3 at least, so schools  could try and do something innovative and engaing and useful there. Or they could sit back and say "that's pointless, nothing will change" and keep doing the same old, tired thing. Which is much easier of course.


The best way to do this is with a desktop or laptop computer, not a circuit board.


What's form factor got to do with anything? Teaching Computing is all about concepts and ideas, not the size of your motherboard


At primary level, the picture is a little different as Scratch is popular and there are ways to connect it to the Lego Mindstorms kit, which is exciting for 10 and 11 year olds.


It's easy – I mean, really easy! - to make lessons "exciting", especially with gadegets  costing hundreds of pounds.  It's rather harder to educate (with everything that entails, including meeting targets from the government and the school; assessment; showing progression; engaging a class of 30 mixed ability pupils; differentiation; SEN; showing progression; etc etc etc).

So - the Pi will certainly be making an appearance - and, I have no doubt, a change - at my school. Because I'm up for it, and so are the kids.

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Re: Getting Teachers Interested in RasPi

Mon Mar 05, 2012 3:06 pm

Okay, let's wind back about 30 years here.  It's 1981 and I'm learning to program on a ZX80 with the 3K RAM pack (anyone even remember them?).  In school there is an RM 380Z (or '38 Ounce' as well called it) and that's about it.  Then along comes the BBC Micro and the ZX Spectrum.  Everyone I knew got hold of a Spectrum except a couple of my more affluent friends who got BBC Model A's.  There were no Spectrums in school, but that was the computer that we really learned on; all that assembly and machine code and REM statements packed with hex.

Very few people that I grew up with got into computer programming at school, it was almost always as a hobby taken up at home.  School may well help along the way and so it should, but the starting point is more likely to be a young person being bought a Raspberry-Pi for Christmas or their birthday or by a nostalgic older relative!

The point I'm making is that the Raspberry-Pi is equivalent to the ZX81 or Spectrum rather that a BBC Micro.  I honestly feel that trying to push the Raspberry-Pi into education is a mistake, if it is meant to be it will get there by some sort of osmosis, but school computing is far more likely to remain rooted to desktop and laptop computers.

Already I have had a couple of technology teachers on the 'phone asking about getting Raspberry-Pi units for technology projects, but that's a bit different to 'computing' and more like a high-powered Arduino project in the making.

As for the industry representatives, they came from a range of successful software consultancy companies both big and small and were pretty open to new ideas, but ultimately felt that certain hard skills were important for students at GCE.

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Mike Lake
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Re: Getting Teachers Interested in RasPi

Tue Mar 06, 2012 8:49 am

Glenn

Did you get a chance to read the Royal Society report?

We do have a problem - what goes under the name of ICT is NOT working and a lot of it bores the pants off bright pupils.  Yes, it is an easy GCSE (like RE), but does that make it "right"?  (See the Royal Society report for evidence.)

Would you agree with this?

1) Everyone should learn to touch-type.  (It doesn't take long to do this - especially for younger pupils.)

2) Everyone should learn the basics of word processing and spreadsheets.  (The basics don't take long and extras can be learnt as required - pupils should not be faced with learning the same thing over and over again throughout their school career.)

3) Everyone should have a basic understanding about how computers (and things that include them) work - this is simple Digital Awareness.

Education is not about training.  If we disagree on this then where do we start?

I don't know what you mean by "hard skills"?  Do you mean the same sort of thing as learning to be a plumber, electrician or builder?

I am also a bit confused by the separation of computing from technology - isn't that an artificial distinction?  Aren't they interlinked?  Can/should they be treated separately?

Computer science is not for everyone - just as medicine/surgery is not for everyone and we don't "train" the hard skills of medicine/surgery in schools.

We (taxpayers) have spent a huge amount of money on computer systems in schools - it all has to be kept up to date, maintained, repaired and replaced (eventually).  It does not take long for things to get out of date: W 98, XP, Vista, Windows 8, Windows 8, Office this, Office that .......  Lots of large companies have made a lot of money out of education and we produce a generation of young adults who will continue to use those specific brands.  (That's why large listed companies get involved - though they may claim differently.)

Wouldn't it be nice to have a low-cost platform with access to FREE software that handles the high level stuff (wp, spreadsheets etc.) as well as the low level stuff?

Wouldn't it be nice if we treated it in the same way as a pencil case or calculator - each pupil has one for use at school and at home?

Much of the understanding of computer science (algorithms for example) can be taught without computers.

When it comes to implementing computer science it doesn't really matter what language or tools are used.  If you understand the foundations then a language and associated tools are just ways to get the job done - and it doesn't take long to swap from one to another as required.

Is there something that a desktop/laptop can do that RPi can't?

I have some concerns.

1) RPi required a big investment in time (given for free) and money to get the first batch underway.

2) RPi is not a commercial product so who takes the ultimate responsibility when it comes to meeting market demands?  (My Farnell order has slipped from March to April and this morning to May - and I was in early!  I would not forgive this if it was a commercial venture.)

3) Add-ons for RPi will rely on the open community.  This is great to get agreement on what is needed - as long as we don't end up with a race horse designed by a committee becoming a camel.  There seems to be a rush to do things (anarchy - which is sometimes fine, but maybe not when we have 8.1 million pupils to consider) without clear discussion and agreement on specifications before the design work starts.

Commercial doesn't mean making a fat profit - in this case it might mean covering costs.

I am old-fashioned - I like clear specifications, I like clear responsibility (who to shout at when things go wrong), I like to know who is funding it and how they cover their costs.

That's just a plea for stepping back, agreeing what is needed (maybe through Computing At School), getting high level support for it and then determining the best way of doing it - which may involve an element of the commercial just as RPi has done by going to Farnell and RS.
Life's single regret: not patenting dongles when we invented and named them to protect the Wordcraft word processor on the Commodore PET!

You can buy 31 RPi3s for the £639 price of one Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge smart phone - who buys this stuff?

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Re: Getting Teachers Interested in RasPi

Wed Mar 07, 2012 3:38 pm

Le_Quack said:



So basically I'm asking for the teachers out there to tell me why they are excited about the project and if possible how they are thinking about deploying them in the school and which modules at what level (GCSE, AS A etc) they plan to use them in.


With Windows PCs in schools you have a box (which may or may not work well). The box allows you to carry out business style projects, data processing using office apps and so on. Whatever your personal feelings about "ICT" or "Digital Literacy" (or whatever the subject gets re-branded as) this is appropriate for students who will go on later in life to be productive individuals in all sorts of fields. They know how to use the things to do a certain job but don't really care about how it works (as, say, a doctor doesn't care about the inner workings of his car as he drives to work).

What excites me about the R-Pi is the opportunity to give every single student a chance to find out for themselves if they are a geek

While I will continue to teach the parts of ICT which are useful (in spite of whatever Gove says), I have got the chance with R-Pis to let everyone also have a go at tinkering and getting their hands dirty with something which isn't a magic box of spreadsheets.

Many students wont take to it but at least they will have had the opportunity, and for those who do, they can go on to make their own networks or even a mini version of the internet, robotics, parallel processing ...  lots more ... even understand how to actually hack properly (contentious! I wouldn't mention that bit)

That, and the fact that UK schools now have to teach computing (or will very very soon), and there is no point in hanging tight and not adapting as you will just get left behind.

The 'OCR GCSE in Computing' looks to have a very good chance to be included in the English Baccalaureate soon which is another very good reason to get school leadership on side with this.

As far as getting non specialists involved, that will be challenging. I will be using the curriculum that's provided by the computing for schools website and designing project based schemes of work around it with the aim of promoting a lot independence on the students part. If we can design good enough projects then it wont take a specialist teacher to deliver.



badbreath
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Re: Getting Teachers Interested in RasPi

Wed Mar 07, 2012 8:03 pm

For me, (I teach HS science) I just want reliable computers.  The school doesn't have any money, so if I want them I'm going to need to get them.  I don't plan to use them for teaching programming...many of my students don't even have basic computer skills.  I plan to use them for class projects and a class wiki.

I'm looking forward to getting one, seeing what it will do, and finding ways I can use it in the classroom.

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morphy_richards
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Re: Getting Teachers Interested in RasPi

Thu Mar 08, 2012 8:57 am

Mike Lake said:



There is a mood for change expressed in the speech by the Secretary of State. Someone (Royal Society?) ...


Aware as I am that this may make me sound paranoid, I think it's much more believable that it is because he responded to pressure from a certain multinational media tycoon who is often associated with corruption and who has his eyes on replacing textbooks and teachers in schools with some kind of knowledge base that's built on various issues of his own company's assorted media releases.

Well I find that much more believable than that he did it for altruistic motives. Well, anyway, whatever the motives were, we have the chance to steer this ship in the right direction. It will take people industry (as long as the industries are interested in carrying it out for noble reasons and are not hell bent on world domination at any cost) as well as an assortment of teachers with different backgrounds to get where we need to be.

Agh! School bell's ringing....

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Mike Lake
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Re: Getting Teachers Interested in RasPi

Thu Mar 08, 2012 9:58 am

Gove said what he did probably because of pressure from the Royal Society and its brilliant report:

http://royalsociety.org/upload.....chools.pdf

Yes, Gove has a dodgy relationship with Murdoch and yes, Murdoch would like to control the minds of the next generation as well as those who read or watch his thought control systems (I don't, I wouldn't touch them with as barge pole.)  For all I know Murdoch may have plans to take over academies under Gove's privatisation-of-schools scheme.

However, the government has created a climate of change in our area and we would be daft not to take advantage of it.

The Royal Society report shows how computing in schools (particulary ICT) has failed (not in all cases of course, there are some superb example of good practice.)

RPi can help change that - and take advantage of a political window of opportunity.  It's going to require a hell of a lot of work though.

Who says kids have to do wp, spreadsheets et al under Windows using RS Machines?  (Well, Microsoft for a start.)  Who says they have to be linked together using expensive third party providers?  Who says we can't do it better and cheaper?  Do we have a "Calculator Room" or does every kid have one and simply treat it as a tool to be used when required?

I know: impractical, can't be done, rocking the boat, it's impossible, it would cost too much, it would take too long, we can't shift the curriculum, exam boards won't budge, we have already invested, the SMT won't like it, vested interests won't like it, you try spending all day teaching, I have a life to lead ....
Life's single regret: not patenting dongles when we invented and named them to protect the Wordcraft word processor on the Commodore PET!

You can buy 31 RPi3s for the £639 price of one Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge smart phone - who buys this stuff?

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Brod
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Re: Getting Teachers Interested in RasPi

Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:33 am

I live in Australia and currently go to high school. I bet all my money that I would be the first kid to get a RPi in my city. I only heard about them the other day and have ordered two. In that time I have convinced my head of IT at the school to purchase RPis and we will be learning how to code, I have also convinced our IT department teachers to buy some as well. They're even buying them for themselves! All you have to do is discuss the issue and raise points on how educational they would be. They're portable, easy to use and full of edumacation!

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Re: Getting Teachers Interested in RasPi

Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:38 am

Mike Lake said:


Gove said what he did probably because of pressure from the Royal Society and its brilliant report:


I hope so, I just find it really hard to believe that he would actually take notice unless the Emperor was whispering something to him from the shadows and explaining where it fits in with his plans ... anyway enough of all that silliness!

I agree with you there is an opportunity and of course we would be daft to not take advantage of it. I actually happen to think (because I believe all this Murdoch conspiracy stuff) that we had better get a move on! Since Gove apparently wants an "open source" curriculum, then we need to make sure that the right people construct the requirements of that curriculum before it gets warped into something indescribable by Murdoch and Co.

You've raised some very good points in this thread:

1) We have to be clear WHAT it is we are trying to teach – and this is hard when we want it to be open-ended and creative – but, like most things, we do have to put the foundations (the bits and bytes) in place before we can let kids go off on flights of imagination. [...] 4) We need a yardstick to measure success (because governments like things to be "measured" – even the immeasurable) – and I reckon we should use people from outside education to help determine this. 
The Computing for Schools has given us a good lead on these two points. I can happily work with the Key Concepts and Level Descriptors described in the Computing Curriculum they have provided.

Their document is useful because it can provide us with a common framework around which we can design resources, projects, lessons and so on. Without it we would all want to have a go at making that framework ourselves and there would probably be a too many cooks and broth type situation.

If we stick to this curriculum then instead of inventing the whole thing we have the much more enjoyable task of adding meat to the bones, or designing the lessons and projects that will enable this curriculum. PiofCube has highlighted a useful way in which we can all come together in the developments we make in this thread.

The fact that there is such a long time before the R-Pis become generally available can be worked to our advantage.

It's unlikely that schools will be able to get class sets before next academic year. Individuals may get hold of some sooner it will be our responsibility to use this to plan for, and develop on them within an educational context.

I agree it would be nice to be shot of Microsoft and PCs but realistically that's not going to happen for some time. Not because the RP isn't up to it, or because of fear of boat rocking but because schools have invested a lot of money and time into Microsoft type PCs. The earliest conceivable time these computers could be replaced with RPis is when whatever contract the school might have runs out and it comes to be time to replace them. Even then you would need a school full of enthusiastic techies to make it work.

The niche that I see the RPi filling currently is the computing side. (the replacement of Microsoft can come later) We really cant do a lot of good computing with a school PC. There is virtually no chance of student being able to work with the guts of the school network but a RPi network in a classroom would be cheap to establish with no consequence when it is ripped apart and rebuilt into any conceivable configuration ... and so on. I'm not going to list all my ideas for computing projects here.

You mentioned

3) We have to get the stamp of approval from government (and they seem to be in the right mood at the moment so we should not waste the opportunity), local authorities, exam boards and "the senior management team". 
The carrot for senior management and LAs is the English Baccalaureate. While it isn't there yet, there is a drive to get the  GCSE in Computing accredited with this. Those of us with influence should lend our weight to this idea as, if it happens it will permanently add credibility to the idea of computing in schools.

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Mike Lake
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Re: Getting Teachers Interested in RasPi

Thu Mar 08, 2012 12:03 pm

morphy_richards

I agree with all that!  (Which is nice.)

Trouble is, I am an EX-teacher (now a business person - software and electronics - employing people, making things - you know, old-fashioned stuff) and I have got into the habit of knocking doors down and going straight for the ultimate objective rather than taking one step at a time.  Must be age - I am becoming increasingly intolerant of delay and politics <g>

The Computing At School (CAS) curriculum, and the stuff in the Royal Society report, is the way to go.

I understand that CAS is working on an RPi User Guide/Book - maybe we need an RPi working group?  (I only joined the other day and I have not heard anything back yet.)

One thing I am keen on in business is a clear specification before doing things. This applies to everything from an RPi case to all the possible widgets we could attach to it.  ("Widget Specification Working Group"?)

Fired up the HTML last night and created this: http://www.ThePiShop.org - no idea where it is going, but it passes the time <g>
Life's single regret: not patenting dongles when we invented and named them to protect the Wordcraft word processor on the Commodore PET!

You can buy 31 RPi3s for the £639 price of one Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge smart phone - who buys this stuff?

TheManWhoWas
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Re: Getting Teachers Interested in RasPi

Thu Mar 08, 2012 6:16 pm

morphy_richards said:

I agree it would be nice to be shot of Microsoft and PCs but realistically that's not going to happen for some time.

Whoa! Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. In the real world most of us do use PCs - gasp - running Windows - gasp gasp - and use Office - gasp gasp gasp.

So whilst the Pi will be a great learning tool, it doesn't eliminate the need for kids to get to grips with "normal" computers too. They just don't need to waste so much time exclusively being trained to use specific M$ software packages.

And it will be a lot easier to transition from the existing ICT to something supplemented with Pis than some huge overnight step change. Plus those PCs can run programming languages and environments too.

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Re: Getting Teachers Interested in RasPi

Thu Mar 08, 2012 6:53 pm

Maybe but it would be nice to break the monopoly

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Re: Getting Teachers Interested in RasPi

Thu Mar 08, 2012 6:55 pm

TheManWhoWas

We sometimes confuse method with learning.  We also confuse education with "training" - I can train a dog to sit but I can't educate him to compute.  I really hope that the world has not changed so that schools are now engaged in "training".  If that's what people feel then maybe we need to sit down, have a cup of tea and a biscuit and go over what education is for.  (Clue - it isn't "training" <g>)

I was involved in writing a word processor - Wordcraft.  We sold millions but we felt it best to move on (a long time ago) to other profitable areas when Microsoft entered the arena.  (No, I am not bitter and twisted, it's the way of the world, win some, lose some, move on to more profitable ventures.)

Word processing is not "Word" - despite what many people feel (and I use it every day!)  "Word" is simply one amongst many that do very similar things.

LibreOffice costs an infinite amount less than Office - and provides all the same functions - for free.  Why waste taxpayers' money paying for licences and upgrades when you can get it all for free?

It's a bit like saying students "must learn Visual Basic and C because that's what 'industry representatives tell us they want'".

No, Industry (I'm an employer) wants people who understand computers, algorithms and all the good stuff.  The language they chose for any particular design is arbitrary - some are better at some things than others but no one is good for everything - I wouldn't teach primary school children to use Visual Basic or C - but I would be happy with Logo to start with!  Any computer professional can switch from one language to another in the blink of an eye (well, after a couple of late nights!)

Just because at the moment we have expensive RM PCs and Microsoft Office and we need Microsoft tools to handle Visual Basic and C doesn't mean that it is right.  I would argue that it is wrong - we are engaged in selling brands rather than computer education.  Of course Microsoft and others want to lock schools into their products - that's how they become "industry standards" - after all, no-one got fired for buying IBM - until IBM screwed up in the PC market and got slaughtered.

Brands are temporary, computing is for life.  Education if for life - not for "training".  Computer people never stop learning.
Life's single regret: not patenting dongles when we invented and named them to protect the Wordcraft word processor on the Commodore PET!

You can buy 31 RPi3s for the £639 price of one Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge smart phone - who buys this stuff?

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Re: Getting Teachers Interested in RasPi

Thu Mar 08, 2012 7:03 pm

TheManWhoWas said:





Whoa! Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. In the real world most of us do use PCs - gasp - running Windows - gasp gasp - and use Office - gasp gasp gasp.


Anyway ... as a long term goal changing that sort of thinking is not a bad thing. I'm against doing away with teaching essential IT for business and office but I don't see why it all has to be done the Microsoft way. If all I can produce is an army or people who can balance their companies budget only as long as they are using Excel then I've gone wrong somewhere.

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