Building Computer Literacies in Rural Schools
Lead University: University of New South Wales
Lead Researcher: Ann Jardine
Research Team: Ann Jardine and Tom Pyke
Year Funded: 2015
Funding Received: $173,460
This project built computer literacies in teachers and upper primary school students in regional and remote areas. A course was developed for teacher skills in computer literacies; age-appropriate educational materials were developed for students; and at least one teacher at each participating school was nominated as a “champion”. Resources developed through the project were provided as open source material on the UNSW ASPIRE website.
- The project had two objectives:
- Build computer literacies in teachers through professional development and the identification of, and support for, champions within the school.
- Assist in the building of computer literacies within upper primary school students in particular.
- The project had the following components:
- A course was developed for teacher skills in computer literacies, focusing on free educational resources available through the Raspberry Pi Foundation and Codecademy.
- The course was endorsed by the Board of Teaching and Education Standards (now New South Wales Education Standards Authority). Teachers received four hours of professional learning addressing teacher standards.
- At least one teacher at each participating school agreed to take on the role of champion.
- Age-appropriate materials were developed for schools.
- Professional development courses in computer literacy were delivered to a minimum of two schools.
- Evaluation of the course was undertaken.
- Resources from the project were provided as open source material on the ASPIRE website.
- In the project, 42 teachers engaged in activities designed to increase their knowledge and understanding of digital technologies. The project worked directly with 85 students from Years 5 and 6 and it is estimated by teachers that 485 students were taught new concepts, building their knowledge of coding and computational thinking from kindergarten through to Year 8.
- The course improved skills in computer literacies in 10 areas:
- basic concepts of coding and computational thinking
- methods to introduce coding and computational thinking to primary school students
- building teacher confidence in incorporating technology in the classroom
- teaching coding and computational thinking across parts of the New South Wales curriculum
- how to use Scratch and unpack program concepts
- creating digital stories, music and video games
- incorporating Scratch into lessons
- linking Scratch to external devices to learn robotics
- using a Raspberry Pi to teach digital technologies
- hands-on coding and robotics in the classroom.
- The responses from teachers were very positive. The course switched many teachers on to using computer literacies to engage their students and helped them to understand its importance to students’ future careers.
- The number of teachers who participated in the project was an achievement and will result in building computer literacy skills in students from kindergarten onwards.
- The project afforded teachers in regional schools an opportunity for professional learning they would not otherwise have had. This has been reflected in the number of teachers giving up time after school to attend the sessions and the enthusiasm they took to participating in something that was unfamiliar.
- High staff turnover, particularly in small rural schools, is commonplace and provided one of the setbacks in the project, leading to a slight revision in the model.
- The project has been continued by UNSW ASPIRE and has now reached over 100 teacher engagements resulting in over 800 students building their knowledge of coding and computational thinking from kindergarten through to Year 8.
Summary prepared by the NCSEHE.