West Downs 9
Chair: Terry Freedman
Time 9.35 – 10.35
Raising aspirations for digital education amongst school pupils and students: coding in the Czech Republic
Dr Bozena Mannova, MirandaNet Council, chair of Czech Miranda, Czech Technical University in Prague.
The Czech Miranda, an Anglo-Czech alliance, was set up in 1994 and MirandaNet members have been involved in a range of activities that illustrate how the learning journey from school pupil to university undergraduate has been greatly facilitated in Prague.
In the Czech Republic coding has been taught since the 1990s. However, with the availability of advanced personal computers in the 1990’s the educational activities were oriented towards mastering software products like MS Word, Excel and other well-known applications as it did in the UK. The teaching of coding lost its importance for a time as the educational focus moved to Computer Applications.
In the last few years we have seen a renaissance of teaching programming on a large scale both for school pupils and for students. Besides what is teaching at school in frame of course Informatics, there are many activities in the Czech Republic where school pupils and students are attracted to programming. Much is done in schools in cooperation with Universities and CTU in Prague is strongly involved in it.
Courses in coding for school pupils are taught also by university students with the support of universities. For example, there is a group of girl students at the Czech technical University in Prague (CTU) who teaches courses for children from elementary and secondary schools. The results are excellent and the project proves that this type of lessons can be implemented into standard teaching at schools. Activities, where school pupils are now exposed to basics of programming, are developing well. Several platforms which support teaching of programming for schools and students are used at CTU. The presentation will explain how the pupils respond to this program.
Dr Bozena Mannova works with the MirandaNet Fellowship (www.mirandanet.ac.uk), an international professional organisation founded in 1992, and the associated charity, World Ecitizens(world ecitizens.net) has been influential. As the International Director of the Czech MirandaNet Chapter (www.mirandanet.ac.uk/internat/czech.htm) she has been very influential in the development of MirandaNet learning theory and practice as they relate to digital technologies and collaborative professional learning. Since she joined the Fellowship in the early 1990s with several of her Czech colleagues, there have been many fruitful Anglo-Czech collaborations. In the first days of partnership we investigated how different political systems impact on education systems publishing a book chapter about these perceptions called Collaboration through Technology Now and in the Future (Preston and Mannova 2000).
In this first stage the Czech teachers were interested in ideas from Western Europe about democratic classroom pedagogy, topic learning and innovative computer applications designed to promote learning. However UK teachers were not offering computer science and the Czechs introduced to MirandaNet members some good practice in teaching programming. The outstanding work of these young
Czech learners prompted the English teachers to question the UK Information and Communications curriculum that only focused on computer applications not the science underlying them. In later years the exchanges between the English and the Czechs has concentrated on teaching senior citizens, improving classroom practice, social networking between teachers and the design of Professional Development programmes. In recognition of their work in building learning communities of teachers Christina Preston and Bozena Mannova won the European Union of Women Humanitarian prize in 1998. With her great flair for organisation and management of colleagues, Bozena has directed two European projects in which MirandaNet Fellows have been partners. The Tempus project focused on school exchanges and the SENNET activity concentrated on teaching senior citizens about information technology.