Tag Archives: computer science

Towards a Commonwealth-wide Raspberry Pi initiative…

Me and Raspberry PiRaspberry Pi is transforming the ways in which young (and old!) people learn about computing, and provides a powerful, value for money means through which students across the world can gain skills relevant to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) curricula.  It is not only relevant to secondary education, but is also being used by undergraduates to develop their programming skills.  As yet, Raspberry Pis are not widely used in many of the poorer countries of the Commonwealth, but given their power and value for money they offer real potential for STEM education.  I had a great discussion earlier this week with Lance Howarth (CEO Raspberry Pi Foundation) during which I shared some of my ideas about how a multi-stakeholder partnership could be developed to help organisations in Commonwealth countries access and use Raspberry Pis effectively within their education systems.  Much would need to be done to implement such an initiative, but if enough interested parties could be brought together, we could make a real difference in helping to build relevant skills among young people across the Commonwealth.  Key things that would need to be put in place would include:

  • National champions willing to help take forward the initiative in initial countries;
  • Careful integration with relevant curricula at school and university level;
  • Establishing whether  current distribution channels enable easy access to hardware;
  • Appropriate support for teachers/lecturers (see details of the Picademy);
  • Funding support for enabling purchase of hardware

At this stage, it is important to gauge the level of interest that there might be in taking these ideas forward. If anyone is interested in helping to craft such an initiative, do please get in touch with me, and we can begin to build a coalition of the willing!  I think this is potentially very exciting, and it would be great to work with like-minded people to make it happen!  Do please respond in the comments below or on the ICT4D Facebook Group page.  Let’s make this happen!

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Filed under Commonwealth, ICT4D

Unleashing the Potential: ICTs for Development

I had the privilege of being a keynote speaker at the SciFest symposium on ICT for development and learning held in association with a meeting of the Computer Science Days of the Finnish Computer Society held at the University of Joensuu on 15th April. Here is a summary of the key issues that I raised:

  • The main question I sought to address was “How can Computer Science contribute to the lives of some of  the poorest and most marginalised people in the world?”
  • Much computer science seems to be very theoretical, and practised by people who prefer to remain in their familiar institutional surroundings
  • However, for those who wish to gain new experiences, insights and intellectual challenges, working in some of the poorest countries of the world offers great opportunities
  • Unfortunately, much so-called ICT4D research and practice tends to be top-down and led by people from Europe and north America
  • All too rarely does such research really address development needs
  • As privileged academics, we ought to listen much more to the stated needs of the poorest and most marginalised in crafting our research agendas
  • The private sector is likely to enable many relatively poor people to benefit from ICTs, but the very poorest – those with disabilities and street children – need interventions by governments and civil society organisations to help them use ICTs to achieve their aspirations
  • For those computer scientists not lured by the interests of capital, there remains the wonderful challenge of working for social agendas that can make a difference – both to their own intellectual benefit, and to the benefit of the world’s poorest people

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Filed under Africa, ICT4D, My Lectures