TACCLE 3: CODING

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TACCLE 3 Coding is a new research project which looks at Teachers’ Aids on Creating Content for Learning Environments in the field of coding. It is funded (from 9/2015 to 8/2017) under the European Commission’s Erasmus+ program, key action: Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices.

TACCLE 3 coding aims to encourage and support teachers to introduce coding, programming and/or computational thinking as part of the curriculum in the 4 – 14 classroom to better equip pupils to develop the skills needed by the European labour market. It will broaden teachers’ digital skills base and enhance their professional competence and show how entrepreneurial skills can be developed and integrated with programming skills. The project will also stimulate a positive attitude towards STEM with young children.

In the framework of the project, KIT will look at more playful, visual and arts-based models and approaches to teaching and learning about computational modeling and thinking by bridging technology, art and creative design processes, maker and DiY cultures.

The project’s aims are:

• To encourage and support teachers to introduce coding, programming and / or computational thinking as part of the curriculum in the 4 – 14 classroom to better equip pupils to develop the skills needed by the European labor market.
• To broaden teachers’ digital skills base and enhance their professional competence
• To show how entrepreneurial skills can be developed and integrated with programming skills The project objectives are:
• To produce an on-line support package of ideas, activities, materials and downloadable resources for teachers who are teaching coding or programming or who want to.
• To provide CPD courses in a variety of formats and a template and materials for local delivery.
• To establish a dialogue between teachers and programmers, teachers and resource producers, teachers and organizations involved in teaching coding and to act as an agency for exchanges of curricula, ideas and practice.

The demand for ICT professionals continues to grow. The European Commission estimates there will be 700, 000 unfilled vacancies for ICT practitioners in the EU by the year 2016. Of all job vacancies in ICT, computer programmers are the most in demand outnumbering the demand for other IT professionals by a factor of 5 to 1. The greatest demand is in UK, Germany, Estonia and other Northern European countries, which reflects the make up of the project partnership.

Despite this skills shortage, there has been limited response from the European education system. Estonia has already introduced computer programming for all ages across the school curriculum, Denmark partially so. Others are about to introduce it (such as England in 2014) and others are considering it (e.g. Finland, Ireland). Some German Länder such as Bavaria are well advanced; others are not. In other countries, whilst not part of the compulsory curriculum, there are agencies and individual teachers who are trying to introduce programming into the classroom. What seems inevitable is that all member states must surely move in this direction if they are to meet the skills demands of the European economy. The biggest problem we face is a desperate shortage of teachers. Mathematics and computer-science graduates generally choose more lucrative trades; the humanities and social-science graduates who will find themselves teaching coding will need plenty of support as will the primary teachers. In addition the OECD reports that more and more computer programmers prefer to be self-employed or working in micro-SME partnerships and not committed to one particular long-term employer and the vacancy market is beginning to reflect the increase in a new form of employment in the ICT sector. For this reason the project is looking to produce resources for developing entrepreneurship skills alongside programming skills.

The project will:

· Develop a website of activities and ideas that teachers can use in the classroom to teach children about coding and programming. These will support diverse curricula across member states and, where there is no formal curriculum, support individual schools and teachers who want to introduce computing / informatics / programming etc. in their own practice
· Develop some affordable resource kits that can be downloaded or for which instructions for making them can be provided on-line. This could result in selling the resource kits after the project as part of the exploitation and sustainability.
· Design and pilot some staff development opportunities and learning resources for teachers who are total newcomers to programming.
· Stimulate a positive attitude towards STEM with young children
· Test and evaluate existing resources such as the range of software currently available to help children develop programming skills.
· Explore and follow up existing research and projects addressing this issue (e.g. work on Tangible User Interface for children.)
· Enter into policy dialogue and inform policy in countries around issues concerning the teaching and learning of programming in schools” (source: project proposal).

Co-ordinator: Jens Vermeersch, adjunct van de directeur, GO! Onderwijs van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap, afdeling Beleid & Strategie, Internationalisation, Brussels

Project partners:
IBP/KIT, Germany
Pontydysgu, Wales, U.K.,
SGR Antigon Schoöengroep 1, Antwerpen, Belgium
HITSA HariDUE INFOTHHNOLOGIA SIHTASUTUS, Research centre, Tallinn, Estonia
TALLINN University, Tallinn, Estonia
UNIVERSiDAD DE SALAMANCA, Spain
AALTO UNIVERSITY, Helsinki, Finland
University of Eastern Finland, School of Computing, KUOPIO, Finland

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