Raspberry Pi as an educational platform

Lots of people getting excited about a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard with the vendors reporting over 2 million pre-orders for these little boards.

raspberry pi board

For me the interesting thing about the Raspberry Pi project is the potential it has to help in the reinvention of the teaching of IT in primary and secondary schools.

There’s been some big talk from the Government about how the ICT curriculum needs to change, recognising that it’s probably more useful to teach kids about programming rather than just how to use Word and Excel. 

It reminds me a lot of the fuss around the arrival of BBC micros in my secondary school school in the 1980s. It wasn’t word processing or number crunching that caught our imagination, but games. Programming in that context was a means to an end, a way to make pixels move around on the screen. 

BBC micro

“…But the BBC Micro towered over all of these for one simple reason: it became the foundation for teaching computing in schools across the nation. Indeed, I don’t think it’s any coincidence that many of the first wave of hackers in the UK grew up on the BBC Micro, and learned real programming by exploring its possibilities.”
(Glyn Moody writing in Computerworld).

The Raspberry Pi project can put affordable, hackable hardware and open-source software in the hands of school kids. With the advent of apps and easy-to-learn development frameworks there’s a huge opportunity to make the ICT curriculum into something that will create the next generation of hackers.

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