Across the world, computing is taught to keep up with the ever-increasing need for a digitally literate global workforce, and the fundamentals of computing are the same wherever you are; understanding the concepts and principles, and then grasping its practical applications.
Likewise, the challenges facing teachers when it comes to teaching computing are similar: How can we engage pupils effectively? How can we develop the skills they need for their futures? How can we make an abstract subject tangible and relevant for pupils?
With 54 per cent of teachers in the UK believing their students know more about ICT and computing than they do, it’s almost inevitable for teachers to feel anxious about teaching a subject like computing; after all, it’s reasonably new for them too, plus it’s a topic that can’t be taught solely with a textbook.
So, what can teachers do to bring computing lessons to life and achieve success?
Don’t focus on ticking boxes
In all schools, there is of course a demand for successful outcomes, but this often translates into the need for excellent exam results. Yet there is an inherent danger in focusing purely on academic achievements, as it reduces the concept of learning to a tick box exercise and places teachers under pressure to fill children with the facts needed to “pass” exams.
This severely limits the possibility for creative mastery in the classroom; something that educators know is essential to pupils’ attainment.
Therefore, we should think outside the box when it comes to computing to ensure that pupils are learning in a way that enables them to develop the deep understanding of the subject needed to feel confident when it comes to sitting their exams.
This is where active enquiry comes in, as it gives pupils the opportunity to explore a subject and find answers or solutions independently, in turn strengthening their understanding. For example, you could challenge pupils to create a simple robotic device that moves forwards, stops at an obstacle, and then reverses. Or have them think about the algorithms that enable tablet devices to process information and instructions. By placing the learning in their own hands, they will develop a deeper understanding of concepts than if they were to solely read about them in a textbook.
Make it creative
At present, a large gap exists between the skills taught by computing education and those needed in today’s industries. There is sometimes a danger of limiting pupils’ imagination and creativity, greatly harming the prospects of a generation.
|Make ideas a reality in the coding classroom by tasking pupils to complete hands-on, practical tasks|
Hands-on learning is necessary for bringing learning to life in classrooms, and teaching computing in a practical way will bring the element of creativity back into the classroom.
Hands-on tasks not only engage pupils more effectively, but also give them the opportunity to see the practical applications of ideas, making an abstract concept tangible. There are a wide range of practical resources available that schools can use to truly deliver exciting learning opportunities for pupils and place learning back in their hands.
For example, using LEGO® Education’s WeDo 2.0 or MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 gives pupils the opportunity to take a task and make it their own, considering elements of design technology, scientific reasoning and mathematical calculations to create their own solutions to a problem, all the while using programming to bring their creations to life. The familiar LEGO® bricks not only make it fun, but they also bring learning to life through code.
When pupils are able to see their ideas come to life first-hand, computing concepts and ideas become real, capturing their imaginations and enabling them to grasp concepts and real-world applications, which in turn boosts their attainment and engagement in the computing classroom.
Success in computing goes far beyond the school walls. While ensuring pupils develop mastery over a subject is important, we also need to focus on fostering resilience, communication, problem-solving and curiosity, as these are all key skills relevant for their educational and personal development, as well as in their career.
A great way of nurturing these skills is through teamwork. Big ideas often stem from working with others and help pupils to discover their strengths; for example, one pupil may be good at designing a model, whereas another may be good at programming it. Therefore, getting pupils to work together on open-ended computing projects, such as those found in the WeDo 2.0 resource, will enable them to take ownership of their learning, find their strengths and cultivate them, while also communicating with their teammates to solve the problem at hand and building those all-important life skills.
It’s ok to get things wrong
Allowing pupils to drive their own learning is also going to support their inquisitiveness and resilience. Naturally, children are curious, and it’s important that we nurture this curiosity to ensure it remains strong. Likewise, we need to make sure that pupils understand that computing doesn’t necessarily have one right answer, so that they can learn that they won’t always get it right first time, but it’s okay to fail.
This is especially important in computing, as it is often the case that the code won’t always work or the results of an experiment won’t be what was expected or hoped for. Therefore, a successful computing classroom supports pupils through these setbacks and allows them to explore alternative avenues, so they can develop their own strategies to overcome them and succeed.
Make computing a lesson pupils never want to leave!
|Achieving success in the coding classroom involves…
It’s no secret that when young people are interested and enthusiastic about learning, they learn more and they learn well, storing that all-important information in their long-term memory. Therefore, we need to step away from focusing on ticking boxes and reading from textbooks, and bring the classroom to life through hands-on learning, creativity, and exploration; it’s not only going to engage pupils, but it’s going to ensure they develop and build the skills and experience needed for the 21st century workforce.
By making the classroom a place of inspiration and practical discovery, we inspire pupils to unlock their potential and see the real-world applications of computing, igniting a passion for the subject and encouraging them to pursue computing at a higher level. Today’s pupils are the change makers of tomorrow, so let’s make the computing classroom a space for successful personal and educational growth, after all, you could have the next Bill Gates or Ada Lovelace sitting in your computing classroom…
Check out LEGO Education’s free computing resources and find out how they can help you achieve success in the coding classroom on www.LEGOeducation.co.uk