At University College Dublin (UCD) recently, we spoke to Raspberry Pi Foundation co-founder and CEO Eben Upton about plans to introduce the palm-sized computer to formal education and unlock children’s computing creativity.
Upton arrived at UCD on 2 April to discuss how new technologies such as the Raspberry Pi are changing the world with an audience of social computing post-graduates and undergraduates, and a smattering of primary and secondary school students.
This clever credit card-sized computer has been used to build all sorts of things, from scientific instruments to automated brewing systems to barcode-scanning robots to a device to translate what your dog is thinking.
Computing on the curriculum
The original purpose for the Raspberry Pi, though, is to teach children about computing. This year will be a key milestone for the foundation, as the UK schools’ curriculum will change to introduce computing subjects and Upton and his team are developing formal education resources to help this along.
Upton sees the Raspberry Pi following in the footsteps of Lego, a toy that has been put to great use by educators worldwide. So, too, can the Raspberry Pi use creativity and fun elements to teach the basic principles of computer science and programming.
“If you give children the chance to create things rather than just passively consume stuff, you can unlock their creativity,” said Upton. “You don’t have to try that hard to fire that spark of imagination.”
Ireland’s school curricula are also due for an overhaul and computing is top of the agenda for some. As these changes take shape, information professionals and educators will act as intermediaries facilitating technological adoption among young people.
Upton’s appearance at UCD was organised by Dr Crystal Fulton at the School of Information and Library Studies and was hosted by the UCD Mature Students Society with support from RS Components and the School Libraries Association of the Republic of Ireland.