Code Smart: Teaching computing made easy for students


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AXA XL Code Smart teacher training in London

“I like the idea of learning with my students. I think it’s great that I could end up discovering that they become the experts!”, says Lee Edwards, one of the 16 participants in the AXA XL Code Smart teacher training help in London.

Code Smart is a new computing resource set against the real-world context of driverless cars. Code Smart makes learning code easy for students from ages 7 to 14 using a wide range of learning tools including teaching books, student activity sheets, 360 videos and subject updates.

Today marks the second training course introducing this new resource to teachers in the UK. Running the training, Helen Steer, Lecturer and Maker, is bringing coding to life for primary and secondary school educators. Introducing the resource, Helen explains to teachers that the technology used to teach students computing today will have been superseded by the time this generation are in the work place. As a results, she explains that an important aspect of the Code Smart resource is rooted in getting student to think computationally, both in terms of coding and robotics.

Kicking the first session of the morning, Helen is helping the participants who have come from London and the surrounding home counties to become familiar with Code Smart’s practical way of teaching computing. Helen facilitates a discussion around boosting students’ programming literacy with the participants, who have broad experience delivering primary and secondary phase computing, physics, and STEM clubs.

Rolling up their sleeves, during the mBot construction phase, a discussion ensues about developing students’ problem solving and fine motor skills. The mBot is the robot car Code Smart uses to teach students the basics of coding and robotics.

Now that it is assembled, the teachers are ready to begin to write code, some for the first time. During this session, a healthy dose of competition can be felt as the teachers grow in confidence putting their learning into practice. Those who finish the different tasks, like making their mBot and activating the different sensors, start helping others.

With mBots put to the side, Helen steers the teachers to develop and prototype ideas on how technology will shape the cities of the future.

The final section of the training course replicates the Code Smart curriculum. Code Smart maintains a strong emphasis on design thinking, user empathy and the reflection on the use of computing and robotics to address social and environmental issues.

Teachers commented throughout the day on the high quality of the training provided and how much they had enjoyed the session. “I thought the course was very good. It helped me troubleshoot issues, made complex coding topics really easy to understand,” concludes Michael Noonan, Head of Technology, Queen Elizabeth’s School, Barnet.

5 October 2018

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