In the Digital Schoolhouse, kids learn by making video games


At the 12th annual Intel Education Summit in London, delegates discussed everything from digital skills to cyber-safety, Galileo Maker projects to educational gaming. But one idea that stood out was UKIE’s Digital Schoolhouse.

“The Digital Schoolhouse initiative is designed to develop a new generation of Computing teachers to teach the new Computing curriculum using an innovatively creative play-based learning model,” says UKIE, the trade body for games and interactive entertainment businesses in the UK.

The programme itself consists of a series of workshops designed to teach computational thinking across five key areas — Algorithms & Programming, Communication & the Internet, Data Representation, Hardware & Processing and IT/Digital Literacy & E-Safety.

Teachers in Digital Schoolhouses teach the fundamentals of computational thinking through a series of plugged and unplugged activities, ranging from educational games through to magic tricks, Play-Doh, games and even dance. See how the Digital Schoolhouse works in the Makey Makey workshop video below.

Working together with partners that include Disney’s Club Penguin, Minecraft modders Code Kingdoms, Bee-Bot, DIY Gamer and Apps For Good, Digital Schoolhouse students can learn how to build their own calculator using Scratch, write an algorithm, design/create their own games and become Database Detectives to solve a murder.

UKIE CEO Jo Twist used her speech at the Summit to outline how this sort of fun, play-based learning can help inspire a new generation of coders from an early age. She argued that focusing on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects isn’t enough. Instead, students responded better to a fusion of arts and sciences, dubbed STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Maths).

Digital Schoolhouse Makey Makey workshop
Children learn to build a piano using a MaKey MaKey board, Play-Doh keys and crocodile clips.

The Digital Schoolhouse programme has been limited to London, but has already managed to reach more than 5,500 children. Jo Twist wants every child to have access to it.

“Games are a powerful hook for a diverse range of children to spark their interest in programming and creativity,” said Twist. “We want to roll out the Digital Schoolhouse model across the country in order to secure the talent pipeline not only just for the games sector, but all sectors in the digital economy.” — Dean Evans (@evansdp)


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