The objectives for our final computing session of the year were to; look at creative computing as part of a suite of digital technologies. Build an understanding of computational thinking through plugged, unplugged and real world examples. To look at the relationship between control technology and constructionist learning theories. And finally to look at physical computing as an educational tool making the connections between the physical and the virtual.
We began this session by looking at the place of computing within the new National Curriculum. Computing has been added into the curriculum in order to replace ICT, as mentioned in one of my earlier posts, I thought this was simply a name change. However it is not, the changes are a lot more complex than first thought. Admittedly, I did panic when I read the computing section as I thought it was too complicated for children in either key stage one or two. However, I think that times are changing and children are a lot more familiar with technology in comparison to my generation. Therefore this new computing section of the curriculum could be a perfect way to challenge them and develop their technological skills.
In our computing sessions so far this term, we have already looked at tools which can be used to teach children the computing skills that they need and these where considered again briefly in today’s session (further details of them can be seen in sessions 4 and 5). However today’s session was about tools that can be used in the classroom to extend these computing skills. Three tools were explored: Raspberry Pi, Lego We do and Makey Makey and I have explained what we did with them in detail below.
Initially, this was a tool that completely baffled me! I didn’t understand what it was or what it would be used for in the classroom. However, after a lot of research and discussion I finally understood. The device itself is very small, only the size of a computer mouse! The device has an SD card slot (to store information), an Ethernet port (to connect to the internet), a HDMI cable (for high tech display and sound), 2 USB ports (can be used to connect a mouse, keyboard or memory stick). The device even has a slot for headphones! Considering all of that, it came as a huge surprise to me to discover that this device is available at a small cost with the lowest price being £25. As well as this there is also the option to attach other features to the device such as a camera. I think that this resource is a great device to use in schools considering how cost effective it is, however it is also important to think about the added extras such as all of the cables to enable the device to work to its best. The device is also a great tool, as it already comes installed with programming tools such as scratch as well as tools to teach programming language for example adults can learn the most complex programming language on this little device (python). Images of the Raspberry Pi software can be seen below:
Lego We Do
This was my favourite tool that we explored in this final session! I thought it was a brilliant concept and a fantastic way to extend children’s knowledge in computer programming. From the title, you may have already guessed that this product has been created by the well-known children’s toy manufacturer Lego. The product works by the user following an on screen tutorial in order to build the Lego creation, this can take up to thirty minutes however this depends on the age range of the children and their ability. After that, the user is then shown the best way to move the sensors (either light or motion) which are placed on the Lego creation. The sensors are then plugged into the computer via USB ports. The children can then complete the sequence as much as they like. I have uploaded a video of the Lego We Do below:
This is the final tool we looked at this session, to explore methods of extending children’s computing ability. Makey Makey works by being plugged into the computer, via a USB port. Cables can then be plugged into the Makey Makey to control various elements of the computer such as the arrow keys on the keyboard, clicker of the mouse etc. This works with someone holding the Earth wire, when the cables are plugged into the Makey Makey the other end of the cable can be plugged into other materials such as fruit and vegetables, we used carrots in our session! When myself, Firouzeh Kern and Emma Perring had a go at using Makey Makey we decided to use a tool that someone else created on scratch involving a piano. This meant that all we had to do was lift up the carrots to play a tune! I think this is a great way of achieving computer programming with younger children as well as having many cross-curricular links to Music. A video of the Makey Makey in action can be seen below:
I have also included images of me having a go at piecing together the Makey Makey:
As part of my extra reading for this session, when I saw a clip related to the American sitcom ‘Big Bang Theory’ I had to watch it. As soon as the clip started playing I recognised the episode straight away, and thought that it was a brilliant way to show a flow chart that controls a program. However, although this is the case it is not a clip I would use with children in primary school, but I think it would be a good clip to use in early secondary school to recap computer programming. The link to the video is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0xgjUhEG3U&feature=youtu.be and the video itself has been embedded below:
A final piece of extra reading I undertook was an article titled ‘Does ICT improve learning?’ this was an interesting read that debated arguments for and against ICT improving learning. The article overall concluded that the use of ICT does help to improve learning as long as it is used within the correct context and is accessible for all children. The article can be found at: http://www.ictineducation.org/home-page/2010/7/8/does-ict-improve-learning.html. An image of the article can be seen below:
To conclude, even though I spent a lot of this session feeling rather confused, I feel like I did learn a lot about the different resources that are out there to help extend children’s knowledge of computing at key stage two. Especially as I had never heard of any of these tools before! My favourite tool was the Lego We do, I thought this was a great way of getting children excited about computing and programming especially as it is set within a context of which they are familiar.