BT Launches Computing Project For Teachers

Jul 14, 2014

Telecoms giant BT and IT education organisation Barefoot Computing Project have teamed together to help prepare teachers for the new computing curriculum.

Skills such as programming and coding will be compulsory for schools in England to teach from September this year.

“Our new, forward-thinking computing curriculum, backed by industry experts, will raise standards, show students how to make their computers work for them and give them the skills and knowledge they need to compete with their peers from around the world,” claimed Education Minister Elizabeth Truss.

In a Department for Education-funded programme, Barefoot is holding workshops across the country and providing cross-curricular science resources for teachers with no previous knowledge of computer science.

The scheme, run in partnership with BT and BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, aims to help primary teachers implement the new curriculum.

The organisation claims teachers will gain knowledge of ideas and concepts including algorithms, abstraction and data structures and how these relate to other disciplines they teach.

Barefoot also hopes that this will help educators simplify these principles and introduce them to children as young as five.

“Based on what primary teachers who are already teaching the new computing curriculum are telling us, we believe that teaching children computing is not just important in its own right, it’s also important because it improves numeracy and literacy skills,” claimed BCS director of education Bill Mitchell.

“What most people don’t realise is that computational concepts underpin much of what we do in our daily lives,” Mitchell added.

“Coding For Young Children”

To support the programme, BT has developed a programming tool called ScratchJr that is aimed specifically at 5-7 year olds and will be available in UK primary schools from autumn.

The app, developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), works on iPads and allows children to use basic coding skills to create their own interactive stories and games.

BT claims this will help them to learn important design and problem solving skills as well as developing their numeracy and literary abilities.

“This new application has been specifically designed to engage young children in learning the basics of computer programming in a fun and interactive way,” claimed Dr Tim Whitley, BT research and innovation MD.

“We believe ScratchJr will act as the first stepping stone towards encouraging children to choose an exciting career in IT and technology later in life,” Whitley added.




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