Getting Britain coding

The Boardroom

by | 16 December 2013

XMA pilots IT innovation workshop to get teens interested in coding.

XMA has joined forces with Oasis Community Learning and the Serious Games Institute (SGI) at Coventry University, to pilot a new education workshop designed to inspire IT innovation amongst students.

With concern growing over the lack of IT skills being taught in British schools and a decline in students signing up to higher education IT and computing courses, there is a national push to reintroduce the teaching of coding skills across the curriculum and reinvigorate a generation's interest in information technology.

In recognition of this, information technology solutions provider, XMA has looked to enable students to conceive, design, develop, test and evaluate their own 'serious computer game' with the support of SGI experts in games based learning.

John Barnaby director of IT for Oasis Community Learning said: "It's great to see the collaboration between ourselves, XMA and the leading professors in the field paying off. By pooling all of our collective skills, knowledge, resources and contacts, we have been able to create an activity that can be replicated across schools throughout the UK and provide a kick start to the introduction of the Computing Curriculum that the Government sees as vital in delivering the IT skills our economy requires."

The activity consisted of two contact days at the North London based Academy and ten SGI software development days designed to engage students from years nine to thirteen. By selecting Black History Month as the theme, the students were able to combine learning about coding, the software development industry, what customers want and how to work effectively in teams with a greater understanding of the life of Nelson Mandela as their focus for Black History Month.

Bringing in the expertise of the Serious Games Institute, the team put together two day-long workshops which encouraged students to understand coding through a series of tasks which required them to develop their knowledge of the programming languages Scratch and Python.

Guy Bates, director at XMA, said: "Utilising a games scenario to teach coding is a major step-change in the way we approach information technology learning in our schools. In line with Government recommendations to promote coding and implement the new Computing Curriculum, we have developed a focused team to trial this concept at Hadley. The initial observations show that the event successfully engaged students, whilst delivering core curriculum education, and we hope to work with Oasis and other partners to develop this model further."

He added: "We saw a real mix of abilities and expertise and it was interesting to see how each student used transferable skills to develop their games. Maths, Science and English all play a vital role in software development and game coding, alongside IT capabilities. Students recognised this and were able to apply their knowledge from other areas of education to aid their performance in the tasks. Creative skills were also tested when considering the end-user and a game's potential commercial value and success."

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