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Computing curriculum

framework really works in the classroom, adapt our materials, and share with us the very best educational approaches to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse range of students. Each year, we also appoint ‘Ninja Education Partners’: a group of outstanding Apps for Good schools who provide ongoing implementation support to their fellow Apps for Good educators in all aspects of the course.

Get the students onboard

Once schools have ensured that teachers are properly prepped to tackle the new computing curriculum, they can turn their attention to engaging their students. Merely telling young people that something is important to learn is rarely enough to motivate them to learn it. We need to inspire our students with the vast opportunities for making, creating and problem solving that coding and computing offer. The Apps for Good course doesn’t set the challenge or theme for students to use; it is built around students selecting an everyday problem or issue they care about, and learning to build a web, mobile or social app to solve it. It requires that students aren’t set topics or themes ahead of time; instead, they must choose something themselves to focus on by examining their daily routines, interests and wider social issues.

It is vital that we as

educators prepare young people for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century

Student-led learning is particularly powerful in computing, because students’ interests can lead to the creation of a real product they are proud of and gives added resilience to their learning when they encounter difficulties or challenges. To be both interesting and relevant, computing education must encourage creativity and experimentation among students. Extracurricular coding opportunities with organisations like Code Club, Hour of Code, Technology Will Save us and Make Things Do Stuff give students time and space to experiment with different coding tools and challenges. Framing this around helping students to build something they are interested in, like creating a hobby website, building a game or an app prototype, gives students a real life goal to work towards.

Make computing cross-curricular For the new computing curriculum to be completely effective, schools need to take a cross- curricular approach, exploring how computing links with other subject areas. Focusing on STEM subjects in isolation is not enough; to be both effective and inspiring our approach should be STEAMED: science, technology, engineering, art, maths, enterprise and design. Creativity, communication and design are at the heart of the technology industry and offer every student something that can capture their imagination and match their skills.

Bringing other subjects, such as art or music, into computing lessons - and indeed, using computing in art or music lessons - shows students that computing has relevance across a range of disciplines and can lead to a breadth of careers, extending far beyond programming. Computer science as a subject enables students to develop a broad set of transferable skills, most notably logical thinking and problem solving. Likewise, careers in IT often require individuals to be creative, analytical, entrepreneurial and excellent problem-solvers, skills that other subjects can help to develop. Presenting computing in this context can increase its appeal. This cross- curricular collaboration is extremely important in order to capture the attention of students who do not possess a natural enthusiasm for computing, but need it brought to life via other subjects.

Engaging girls

Focusing on STEAMED subjects is also important with regards to making computing more interesting and relevant for female students. Research carried out by the WISE (Women into Science, Engineering and Construction) Campaign revealed that women only accounted for 18 per cent of computer science degrees in 2010/11, and just 15 per cent of the IT workforce; this suggests that female students aren’t being fully engaged with the subject. Bringing choice, real world context, creativity and an opportunity to collaborate into computing helps break through the “tech for tech’s sake” barrier that too often turns girls off. When you also let both girls and boys work with women from the field (one third of our Expert sessions this year have been given by women) then you begin challenging stereotypes as well—a critical ingredient during the school years to help bring more women into the IT industry.

It is vital that we as educators prepare young people for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. The implementation of the new computing curriculum provides a route to do this. The key: ensuring that teachers have the right support now to make this journey a success.”

uFor more information on Apps for Good and how your school can get involved for free, visit

June 2014


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