Helping teachers in Ireland improve their coding skills
Since 2012, the charity Camara Ireland has worked to increase access to computer science education by providing computers, software and educator training at schools and youth clubs, helping thousands of young people build their digital and coding skills.
“It’s about making sure there is a level playing field,” says Eoghan Keegan, Camara’s Schools and Community Programme Manager. “While not all students excel at coding, they should all be given opportunities to learn it.”
In many schools, however, teachers aren’t supported to improve their coding or computer science skills, which can negatively impact the quality of education students receive.
“Many teachers are unsure about where to start; they don’t have the expertise or background,” says Eoghan. “There are also a lot of different coding platforms and languages, so it’s hard to find one place with reliable and relatable content.”
To tackle this, Camara collaborated with Google.org to train teachers across Ireland using resources like CS First – Google’s free curriculum to teach coding with Scratch, a block-based programming language.
“Thanks to its easy point of entry through structured lessons and engaging resources, CS First helps to tackle key teaching challenges,” says Eoghan. “With Google’s support, we’ve developed sessions that equip teachers with the skills to teach computer science in the classroom.”
One of these teachers is Iseult Mangan, from a primary school in County Mayo Ireland, who received direct training from Camara to go on to train 100 more teachers herself.
“Computer science education is important, because it will affect all jobs in the future. But teachers need support to build skills and have difficulty in finding resources,” says Iseult. “CS First ticks all the boxes. It helps teachers learn, it helps students learn, and it is accessible to everybody.”
Iseult is amazed at how quickly her course participants gain coding skills and build the confidence to teach their students how to code.
“Some had never dreamt about using a laptop in the classroom, now they are using CS First to enrich all areas of the curriculum,” she says.