Project Malawi – plans falling into place

It’s now just over three weeks before I set off for Malawi. Fundraising has gone better than I ever expected – the latest total is nearly £1,200, way beyond my initial £500 target with another school event to come. Another huge thank you to everyone who has supported me, this wouldn’t be possible without your generosity. If you would like to add a donation this link will take you to my fundraising page.

The flights are booked – I will be flying from Manchester to Frankfurt to Johannesburg and then finally to Lilongwe – the capital of Malawi. Once in Malawi it’s then the small matter of a five hour taxi journey to our final destination on the shore of Lake Malawi. Total travelling time will be about 24 hours, so hopefully I can get some decent sleep on the long flight to South Africa.

We had our last big project meeting this evening at The University of Manchester and the plans are now firming up. We will be teaching in three schools with varying IT infrastructure ranging from none to limited, but with the equipment that was taken out last year and a stash of new kit we should be set to get up and running quickly in Malawi. We will be teaching a range of unplugged activities and basic computer skills before moving onto coding using Micro:bits, Crumbles and Raspberry Pis. The main challenge onsite is likely to be finding a reliable power source.

Communication will be a challenge in Malawi. This will start at Lilongwe Airport where I will have to buy a data SIM for my phone and manually cut it to size! The network coverage is patchy and tends to drop out entirely between 6-10pm when the load is at its highest. This means there will be little or no access to the internet in the evenings – I’ve yet to decide whether this is awful or blissful; time will tell…

We are meeting again in a couple of weeks time to plan out teaching activities and finalise plans – exciting times.

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Project Malawi – plans falling into place

Computing at School – Rochdale Primary Hub

CASLogo

As a recently appointed CAS Master Teacher, I am now looking to set up a CAS hub in Rochdale.

Computing at School’s mission is to provide leadership and strategic guidance to all those involved in Computing education in schools, with a significant but not exclusive focus on the Computer Science theme within the wider Computing curriculum.

Excellence in the teaching of Computing can only be made by teachers through the way they deliver the skills, knowledge, understanding and attitudes associated with the curriculum. Through the participation of the wider community CAS seek to support and empower each other in an inclusive and self-sustaining body so that each child has the opportunity of an outstanding computer science education. CAS achieves this by supporting and promoting all those individuals, partner organisations, companies, and university departments who wish to run CAS regional hubs, put on CPD courses, generate teaching resources etc. that support the Computing curriculum.

I am now in the process of establishing a primary hub for CAS in Rochdale.

What is a CAS Hub?

A CAS Hub is a meeting of teachers and lecturers who wish to share their ideas for developing the teaching of computing in their schools, their classrooms and their community. It is a meeting of like-minded professionals with the general objective of supporting each other and the specific aim of providing (at least) one idea that can be taken and tried in the classroom.

They seek to provide the opportunity:

– for teachers to meet in a relaxed and informal atmosphere with refreshments
– to share ideas and resources
– to receive informal training
– to gain mutual support from discussing teaching methods with colleagues.

Furthermore, CAS derives much benefit from drawing in members from Universities and –
industry as well as schools. The CAS Hub provides a unique opportunity to meet colleagues from local higher education institutions and local employers.

The success of a CAS Hub relies on local teachers committing to the Hub and the vision and direction provided by the Hub leader(s). One meeting per term is as much as most teachers can manage. This is supported by online discussions and follow-up via the CAS website where each Hub has their own dedicated space. Most CAS Hub meetings are a face-to-face event, but each local community is different. The style and format of the meeting is up to the discretion of the Hub Leader and online Hub meetings do take place especially for our international CAS Hubs. However, the face-to-face meeting remains one of the most effective forms of communication; they can create a great deal of energy and motivation amongst those who attend.

If you would like to become part the hub and drive forward the teaching of computing in Rochdale please let me know – I can be contacted through the main office at Lowerplace (01706 648174) or on Twitter – @hengenall

Computing at School – Rochdale Primary Hub