Philip Colligan, CEO of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, explains how the foundation is reinforcing its educational mission by helping students, teachers and volunteers to make the most of online learning using the tiny Raspberry Pi computer.
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. We have just 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 proud of the way 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 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:-
- Delivering direct-to-student learning experiences
- Supporting teachers to deliver remote lessons
- Helping volunteers run virtual and online coding clubs
- 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.
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.
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.
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 supporters [at] raspberrypi.org.
- 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.
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