June 27, 2014 AT 1:00 pm

Why Raspberry Pi Is Still The White Knight Of Education #piday #raspberrypi @Raspberry_Pi

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Raspberry Pi Foundation’s education team discusses teaching with Raspberry Pi and the benefits. via open source

Two years ago, when the Raspberry Pi launched, it was with the intention of improving IT education in the UK. Since then more powerful, better connected or cheaper boards have come onto the market, but the Pi retains its position as the white knight of ICT teaching.

Why? Because of the community of users that has grown up around it. To find out more we travelled west to Manchester, venue for the second annual Jamboree—a festival of educators, makers and messer-abouters focussed on highlighting how engaging the Pi can be. There, we met 75% of the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s education team—Ben Nuttall, Clive Beale, and Carrie Anne Philbin—to discuss IT teaching in the UK.

Carrie Anne: …I think what’s been really nice about the Raspberry Pi community is that is gives back to the community. So there are experts, there are people who love what they do, who are reaching out to teachers and reaching out to children by running workshops and clubs and things. And it’s actually that collaboration that produces the best materials and produces the best way to move forward with the new curriculum. I mean, the work I did as a teacher producing the Sonic Pi was a team of work. That was because I worked with, yes an academic, but he was an expert. He wanted to develop a teaching environment that I could use with my students to teach tech-based programing in a fun and engaging way, that engaged both genders and engaged both low ability students and high ability students. It’s a tech-based programming language, which is important at Key Stage 3 where you need to not just be able to teach Scratch, you need to teach a tech-based language that’s nice bridge between Starch and something like Python, which we can teach later on. So, yeah, I think we are moving in the right direction. It would be nicer if the powers that be…

Clive: It would be nice to see that as a microcosm of how these things actually happen. So as an academic has a brilliant idea and they’re very good at what they do, and then they come to a teacher and say ‘How can we make this useful in the classroom?’, ‘How can we get assessment in there?’, which schools needs frankly, ‘How do we make it robust?’, ‘How can we test it?’. And isn’t that a weird idea, to actually ask the people that teach how we should do that? It hasn’t happened really. But, yes, as Carrie says, we’re going in the right direction, certainly. The community and third parties are doing more to push it along.

Linux Voice: From someone outside a little bit, it kind of looks like this community has sort of spontaneously developed around the Raspberry Pi. Has this always been there or has it just become more obvious now?

Carrie Anne: I think it’s always been there. I was a teacher so when Raspberry Pi first came out I got one. It got it and then I was like, this is brilliant! Someone’s developed something for education. A Linux box that we can use in the classroom. It’s cheap, it’s brilliant!

Clive: And mess about with.

Carrie Anne: Yeah, it’s going to be great! And then I was like, right, so where are the resources to go with it? Ah, there aren’t any. Then I was like, so where can I go and find some? The first obvious place was Raspberry Jam. There are people running events where they’re doing stuff. So I thought I’ll go along and speak to some people, and see what’s available. And it was through that that I met people to work with, and they’d formed that themselves, the enthusiasts from throughout the community around the Raspberry Pi.

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