Wednesday 9 December 2015

Hour of Code Week (7th-13th December)

Just a quick post from us - did you know our Director Dr. Ahmed Kharrufa also works at Newcastle University? He is involved with many things but one, this week, is particularly relevant: SOLE CODE, a computational thinking after-school club. They have organised a brilliant event as 7th-13th December marks Hour of Code Week, organised by

From the brilliant SOLE CODE team:

"We are organising a 2-days transcontinental event, where we link 9 - 11 years old children from Amberley Primary School, Newcastle (UK) and John B Russwurm PS197, an elementary school in Harlem, New York (USA) to take part in the international Hour-of-Code.

Day 1:
On Wednesday 9 December (2pm GMT: 9am EST), the children will be taking part in the same Hour-of-Code tutorial at the same time and discussing their progress on Twitter with teachers and researchers from Newcastle University’s SOLE Central using #solehour hashtag (Anne Preston is our Twitter host).

Day 2:
On Friday 11 December (2pm GMT: 9am EST), the two schools will host a SOLE CODE session, during which the children will be connected over Skype. In the SOLE CODE session, we will challenge the children to bug the famous Flappy game. If you do not know the story behind Flappy, this Forbes piece is a good start.

Some of us discovered a possible heritage link and/ or shortcut between Newcastle and New York. They went to explore it (see photos below). They hope to join the connected classroom from the other side of the Ocean next Friday. We wish them best of luck (they need it) with homeland security officers at US borders.

To support us please follow @SOLECODE_NCL, retweet about #solehour and about our connected classroom on Friday."

Thursday 8 October 2015

Why is learning to code important?

Code Week EU  is 10th – 18th October 2015. This initiative aims to bring coding and digital literacy to everybody, in a fun and engaging way.

The question is though, why?

Well, as they mention on their website, the way we live has changed dramatically. The way we work, communicate, shop and think. Learning to code doesn’t just build a sense of how tech works, but also helps people to develop skills to adapt to living in this new era.

There are ways to get involved – we’ve summarised them from the Code Week EU website.

Organise an event
-    Toolkit for organisers
-    Add an event here

Code Week EU ambassadors are on hand to help, just click here for more information.

Join an event

-    Look for an event near you
-    Here’s a list of resources to help get you started

Can’t organise an event or join one? Then spread the word!
-    Code Week EU blog

-    Join in on Twitter with #CodeEU and @CodeWeekEU or Like and Share on Facebook

Last but not least, is our own suggestion: Get stuck in!

There is some great advice out there on coding/programming/computing. This is regardless of your level of knowledge, understanding or experience with these topics. This comes in many forms – experts’ blog posts (see ICT Evangelist for a good start), websites (Computing At School) or through exploring Twitter hashtags. You could also explore our blog – see ‘Which programming language should you choose?’ and ‘What is computational thinking?’ for some interesting ideas.

To support the initiative, we have made our computing apps 3 for the price of 1. For the whole of Code Week.

There are six apps – three for 8-11 year olds and three for 11-14s. They cover lots of different topics and ideally, they are worked on in small groups. You only need one iPad per small group though, as that’s how the apps are designed.

Each bundle of three apps is £1.49/€1.99/US$1.99 – which is the cost of ONE app on its own.

8-11 years: click here
11-14 years: click here

8-11 years

11-14 years

Friday 11 September 2015

How to teach programming logic with an app bundle

In recent times, there has been a large interest in helping children across the world develop skills related to programming. While some countries refer to it slightly differently, the concept and content remains very similar.

Computing has made its way into national curriculums, brought about lots of initiatives across the world and has also had a lot of attention in the media – it is now seen as a vital skill for young people to be learning.

While there are many great apps across different technologies for introducing students to actually writing code themselves, the question is, what is the best way to learn the ‘computational thinking’ and 'programming logic' side of coding?

For this very reason, we created some unique apps to help deliver this. They have been out for a while as individual apps but we have now made them into bundles; so you get three for the price of two.

There is one for age 8-11 year olds and one for age 11-14 year olds:

8-11 year olds:

Teaching programming logic with iPad apps - 8 to 11 year olds

11-14 year olds:

Teaching programming logic with iPad apps - 11 to 14 year olds

Let us know how you've approached this topic in your class with a comment, we're really interested in hearing your ideas.

Thursday 14 May 2015

Families and ICT

This week holds two important days – ‘International Day of Families’ on Friday 15th May and ‘Information Society Day’ on Sunday 17th May. To recognise these, we have made one of our apps (usually £1.49) free for 7 days – as it combines aspects of both.

The app is aimed at 8-11 year olds. It's all about a family who love technology – and use it for various reasons – but keep forgetting their passwords. It’s a very relevant problem, and one I think we can all relate to. The family – Bob, Barbara, Ben and Bella – come up with a way to create unique, safe and easy-to-remember passwords.

In order to do this, they think of building a simple algorithm, hence the name ‘Bob’s Algorithm’. So, through Bob and his family discussing how the algorithm works, students learn what an algorithm is by the use of variables and some simple logic. As well as this, students’ attention is also brought to digital literacy – keeping personal information private.

If you haven’t used Digital Mysteries before, then as a quick summary, it is a way of learning through collaboration. The unique technology we use allows two students to work on it at the same time, on one iPad. Throughout solving the task, the pair must discuss what they’re reading, think of names for groups (to organise their ideas) and negotiate an answer to “Can you write the algorithm in one line and show what the password would be for a different person and website?”
More information on the awareness days

International Day of Families #DayofFamilies

This day, “proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993, provides an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families and to increase knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting families.” It has inspired awareness raising across the world and in many areas provides opportunity to highlight different areas of importance or interest.

World Telecommunication and Information Society Day #WTISD

While this day is commemortated every year, 2015 marks an important anniversary – 150 years since the International Telegraph Convention, ‘an intergovernmental treaty that established the basic principles for international telegraphy’. From these origins on which WTISD is based, the day’s purpose is to help raise awareness of the possibilities the use of the internet and ICT can bring to society.