Of course, I was thrilled and delighted to learn that I was first nominated and then later shortlisted for the NAACE Secondary Impact Award. Although I curl-up cringing at the whole notion of “blowing my own trumpet” – I hope that just the shortlisting alone might raise the profile of some of my activities (not necessarily my own profile). I have had a truly amazing time these last 12 months working with some really fabulous, talented people to help engage and inspire children and adults in the field of Computing Science. Nobody can achieve anything like this on their own, so awarding one person does not seem right. I wholeheartedly encourage others to borrow, steal or copy my ideas so that you can experience the same joy and satisfaction that I have. As part of the NAACE awards process, I am required to provide a supporting statement, so – just before you start reading it – do you mind if I go and hide somewhere? …
Hack To The Future is a series of events that Alan started in 2012 to enable the digital creators of today to inspire the digital creators of tomorrow. The first event, 12 months ago attracted 365 children, families, teachers, software & hardware developers from all over England on a freezing cold Saturday in the February half term. The BBC made a film about the event and news spread fast. The two subsequent events in March and October attracted 480 digital creators of all ages, including trainee teachers from Edge Hill University. Other schools and colleges have been inspired to share the same success and have held their own Hack To The Future events, Alan is continually supporting other teachers to help facilitate these. Many teachers have commented on how the event transformed their own pupils’ expectations and seen this lead to more girls choosing to study ICT & Computing at GCSE. Born out of this, Alan wrote and recorded his Hack Rap which to date has reached nearly 5000 downloads.
Raspberry Jam is the global network of events that Alan conceived in July 2011 to enable children, parents, teachers and industry experts to discover the potential of the Raspberry Pi as a learning tool. Within six months, 40 events were held in the UK with 1287 attendees, and the jam had spread from Manchester to Melbourne and Singapore to Silicon Valley with 29,000 visitors to the http://www.RaspberryJam.org.uk site. Worldwide, many individuals have been inspired to set up their own Raspberry Jams including 15 year old Robert Buchan-Terry who set one up in his school in Machynlleth in Wales. The Raspberry Jam site includes a DIY event planning guide as well as videos of talks and demonstrations from previous events. The network continues to spread with growing support of teachers who see these events as an effective way to engage people of all ages in computing science.
Raspberry Jamboree is the conference that Alan is planning to enable educators to unlock the learning potential of the Raspberry Pi computer. As well as the 340 attendees that have registered to attend the event on March 9th 2013, the talks will be recorded and streamed live around the world to share and spread good practice among educators.
In the last 12 months, with his Teach Computing training days, Alan has provided the means for 132 teachers to develop their capacity to teach computing science through the use of free, open source tools such as Scratch & Python. These courses have consistently received outstanding feedback from attendees and courses are oversubscribed. As well as face-to-face training, Alan has published free resources for teachers to use to develop Computing Science in their classroom, the ‘Teach Python from Year 7’ resource has been downloaded over 900 times. In the same 12 month period, 175 teachers attended the free hub meetings that Alan organised after school, where he has encouraged other teachers to share and develop their expertise.
On his Teach Computing blog, Alan has laid open both his failures and successes in an honest manner, hoping that others will benefit from the sharing of these experiences – this blog has attracted over 27,000 views in the last 12 months. To assist the growing numbers of teachers asking for advice on teaching GCSE Computing, in September he started recording a weekly podcast sharing his plans and reflections on teaching his Year 10 class. Each episode has attracted up to 800 listeners.