An exciting digital Autumn! Steve Bunce

Steve Bunce author photoOn TV last night, I saw the BBC ‘Make it digital’ advert. Lots of exciting events and programmes about our digital world, relevant to ourselves and our children. Their tagline is ‘Getting the nation excited about digital creativity’. You can find out more at the Make it Digital site. I’m excited that the BBC, along with other partners, for example Apps for Good and Young Rewired State, are involved in teaching about our digital creativity. New TV programmes will be shown in the autumn, so it all looks very exciting. Already some resources have been released on the CBBC site, using a Dr. Who theme to program a dalek.

Currently, there is a ‘Make it digital’ tour, which is helping to start the new venture:

Cardiff – Harbour Festival – 30 & 31 August
Hull – The Freedom Festival – 5 & 6 September
Lewisham Shopping Centre – 12 & 13 September
Dundee – City Square – 19 & 20 September
Birmingham – Big Weekender – 26 & 27 September

The BBC will be giving a small computer called a ‘Micro:bit’ to every 11-12 year old. This is about the size of a credit card and contains sensors and places to attach other devices and control them. Every school with Year 7 children can register on the website to order the devices. It is an ambitious idea to give these computers away, though I wish that the primary schools were being given them too. The planned release will also include the ability to purchase Micro:bit computers, so primary schools and children in other year groups may benefit from them then. The Micro:bits are due for release in late Autumn.

The BBC ‘Make it digital’ campaign aims to ‘capture the spirit of the BBC Micro, which helped Britain get to grips with the first wave of personal computers in the 1980s, in the digital age’. It was the BBC Micro computer that inspired my learning at school. Suddenly, we had access to a computer and ‘could do stuff’. This was backed up by TV programmes to support the learning. You would spend ages typing in programs from magazines and learn by doing and making mistakes, then fixing them. The most important part was the collaboration with my friends. At school, we shared a computer and you would talk with your partner and solve problems together. This paired programming enabled a better solution to be found.

In addition to the BBC campaign, there are other organisations, such as, Computing at School, who have been a great area of support. Also, the excellent Barefoot Computing resources for primary schools. The Computer Science Unplugged materials, use many activities not using a computer, to teach Computing concepts.

When the new Computing curriculum was released in 2014, teachers needed help to get started. This prompted the writing of the 100 ideas for primary teachers: Computing book. It aims to show that many activities across the curriculum support the teaching of Computing. Trying out the ideas with teachers and children, we’ve been finger knitting, folding origami and even doing magic tricks.

This Autumn is an exciting time! Lots of activities to try with our children, to learn about our digital lives. I hope the new book will help us learn together and I’m looking forward to hearing about your adventures! You can share them using 100 Ideas.

100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Computing100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Computing covers everything a Primary teacher needs to know to start teaching the primary computing curriculum.

Steve Bunce is an experienced teacher who has taught in primary, middle and secondary schools and in many roles including ICT co-ordinator, head of year and senior leader. He has advised schools across the UK on their use of technology through Open University. He is also a part-time lecturer at Durham University where he shares his learning experiences with the undergraduate teachers.

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