Training the Trainer Initiatives to Promote Computing amongst Widening Access Participants: The Law of Multiplication in Action

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The University of Ulster has recently been involved in two ‘training the trainer’ initiatives. (1) An initiative to educate training officers in the Boys’ Brigade (BB) to promote the delivery of computing courses to teenage boys in the BB and (2) a programme for secondary school teachers to encourage the integration of technologies that can be used to enhance pupil engagement in computing science topics. (1) Boys’ Brigade Code AcademyIn 2013, sixteen boys from the 16th Newtownabbey Boys’ Brigade (BB) situated within the Rathcoole housing estate were enrolled onto a University CPPD module. The module was entitled ‘Introduction to Digital Imaging’, which covered a number of computing topics. Having completed the course, the students are now more confident and better equipped in pursuing a computing related education. They now understand the opportunities within the IT industry as Prof. Paul Hanna delivered a presentation at the award ceremony where he described the opportunities within the IT industry and matched these with the undergraduate programmes in the university. Feedback was received from the students via a questionnaire. 15/16 students stated that they would recommend the course and all students said that they would now consider enrolling onto another computing course. Students were asked to rate how likely they were to study computing before and after attending the course. 13/16 students indicated that they are now more likely to apply to study a computing degree programme at the University. Student testimonials were also obtained from the survey, e.g. “I have thoroughly enjoyed this course and would happily take part in another similar course” and “Thanks for a great 4 weeks, I have learnt a lot and it challenged my own knowledge”, “Had a really good time, I enjoyed it and would do it again”. As a result of its success, we have now launched a BB Code Academy. This initiative involves training 15 BB training officers who are undertaking a module in Web Development. On completion, the training officers will deliver this course to working class boys across the 300 BB centres in Northern Ireland. The target cohort is appropriate given working class protestant males are under-represented at Universities in Northern Ireland. If all 15 officers deliver the course to 20 boys over the next three years, then approximately 300 working class boys will have completed the course.(2) Technology Enhanced Learning in Computing Science EducationWith this initiative the School of Computing and Mathematics has developed a new module entitled ‘Technology Enhanced Learning in Computing Science Education’. This course is being delivered to ICT teachers who teach in schools that fit the widening access profile. These teachers are being introduced to technologies that can be used to increase engagement amongst pupils when teaching computing science. Technologies include programmable robots, arduinos, the raspberry pi, scratch block programming and programmable drones. These technologies make computer programming more interesting, interactive and engaging. As a result, more pupils should aspire to study computing and work in the IT industry.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherHigher Education Academy
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 9 May 2014


  • computing education
  • widening access


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