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Coding: the future for the classroom or Pi in the sky?

English schools are adding coding to the curriculum from September, a move largely driven by a business card-sized piece of disruptive technology called Raspberry Pi.

Launched in 2012, Pi is a low-cost computer, stripped to core processing hardware – a 700 MHz processor, a USB port, a memory panel, an SD-card slot, a HDMI port, a power input and (in some models) an Ethernet port – sitting on a printed circuit panel.

It was aimed at kids due to its cost and simplicity. Over three million have been shipped in just over two years, with students – such as these in Cornwall, who sent a Pi into space to record video footage – creating amazing projects with the system.

Using the Python programming language, pupils can turn Raspberry Pi into a web server, set it up as a camera, run videos or use the rudimentary computer for a range of other projects, and share their skills with a global community of young programmers.

Are we creating the next generation of technological geniuses? It will be fascinating to see what gets cooked up by our new curriculum coders.

Will Waggle bring personalisation back to teaching?

Watch the 'Introducing Waggle' video.

Debate has surrounded the growth of average class sizes for years. Are pupils getting the best learning experience in ever-expanding groups?

It’s certainly a challenge for teachers, but new technology being trialled in the US – most notably via an application called Waggle – takes student data and suggests a personalised approach to lesson planning based on what individuals are either struggling with or grasping easily.

Waggle has been developed by a company called Triumph Learning, using software from a company called Knewton, which enables educational institutions and publishers to create content that monitors student behaviour, charts progress and makes recommendations to help achieve optimal learning outcomes on a personalised level.

It’s a great example of how collection and analysis of data can help shape a different way of working, challenging the assumption that everyone learns (or works) in exactly the same way.

Interactive visual content adds another layer to learning

Distance learning via visual means is nothing new. The Open University was established in 1969 and grew as televisions became an affordable addition to most households.

Now a company called 2U is creating cutting-edge interactive course content, not just for distance learning but to enhance the work done in the classroom or lecture theatre.

Working with education professionals, they create tailored visual content in a variety of formats which can be used between lessons – in the case of Oyster – or as live learning experiences through online meeting technology.

The company claims that the system ensures that every student is fully engaged because there’s ‘no back row’ to hide in when you’re live online.

Technology continues to change the way education is delivered and increase opportunities for students. As devices and connections get faster, it’s clear that ‘the classroom’ could be just about anywhere.

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