Getting programming into schools

22 September 2013
Posted by Dominic Ford.

TRaspberry Pi alpha boardhe internet search giant Google has teamed up with the Raspberry Pi Foundation to encourage more children to start programming computers from an earlier age.

Last year, the Raspberry Pi Foundation launched their Raspberry Pi computer, with a price tag as low as £35, with the aim that it should be cheap enough to make a suitable present for children, and that users could be adventurous with without fear of breaking a very expensive piece of equipment.

Many technology companies have identified a problem that while computer literacy is a high priority for school curriculums, the skills taught are for office tasks such as word processing, rather than the programming skills that are needed to develop new software and technology. They are keen to ensure that as many children as possible have the chance to consider computer programming as a possible professional career.

This week, Google has thrown its support behind the Raspberry Pi Foundation's initiative by releasing a free tool called Coder, which allows Raspberry Pi users to develop simple web-based programs using a development environment similar to that used by professional development. Already, Google have sent out 15,000 free Raspberry Pi computers to schools around the UK, to give as many as possible the chance to set up computer clubs which can make use of them.

The idea is to give children a flavour of how large professional websites work, but also to see the kinds of tools that real developers use to get them up and running. Timed to coincide with the start of the new school year, it's hoped that the new software will soon be in use across the country, helping children to understand how the web works.

And, even if you're too old to be in a school computer club, if you want to give it a try, the software is available to all for free download from Google's website.

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