This week the Arm School Program launches the first in a series of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on EdX.org. Teaching with Physical Computing explores the education theory that supports Project-Based learning and demonstrates how to apply it effectively in the classroom using Arm-based devices.
The vision behind the Arm School Program is to empower all learners with the opportunity to develop the interest, knowledge, and skills that enable a lifetime of engagement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). We do this by working with partners to support STEM and Computing teachers in the effective application of Arm-based technology in classroom learning.
Our courses explore how Arm-based devices from Micro:bit, Raspberry Pi, and Arduino can help teachers bring the creativity of the maker movement into classrooms.
Over the course of their career, one teacher will reach thousands of students. Empowering teachers with new skills and knowledge can have an enormous impact. That is why the Arm School Program works with teaching communities of practice – ground-up organizations of teachers, who support each other with advice, training, and resources.
Schools and colleges aim to prepare every young person for life after education, keeping as many doors open as possible. Arm has an unrivalled view of the ever-accelerating rate of change in technology, and the pressure this puts on education systems to adapt. We also have expertise in the skills and knowledge that can lead to a career in technology. Not all young people will go on to work in the tech sector. But all young people will need to understand and grapple with the complex issues and new challenges of an increasingly digitized and connected world.
Some young people are born into families with high cultural and STEM capital – access to books, technology, and resources that spark interest, build understanding, and keep doors open. National education systems aim to open these doors for everyone, no matter their background.
But without the right resources, this can be difficult. Recently I spoke with a teacher in Silicon Valley, a passionate advocate for technology in education. He described gaping inequality in the area, on the doorstep of some of the world’s most successful technology companies.
Closing this gap is complex, and involves a collective effort. This entails education institutions, professional bodies, and industry partners working together to support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal of Quality Education for all.
Working with partners, the Arm School Program focuses on supporting technology and innovation in education. We do this through our work with teaching communities of practice, such as Computing At School in the UK and the Computer Science Teachers’ Association in the US. Our Program centers the vital role of teachers in ensuring all young learners have access to a quality education.
The curricula teachers follow are often mandated by government at a regional or national level. Along with other industry partners, the Arm School Program has an active voice in discussions about the future of the curriculum. But what is taught within schools is ultimately a decision for public institutions.
There is, however, some freedom in how curriculum content is delivered – in the ways in learning and teaching are planned and personalized.
The pedagogy underpinning Arm School Program’s teaching and learning resources is known as Project-Based Learning (PBL). An emerging body of research suggests that PBL has the potential to improve learner engagement, motivation, and learning. Enabled by technology from Arm’s partners, our resources use this evidence-based approach to encourage young people to create with technology. At the same time, PBL gives learners the opportunity to develop both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ STEM skills such as resilience, teamwork, and time management.
Our new suite of four professional development courses introduces teachers to the world of Physical Computing and how to apply it through Project-Based Learning in the classroom.
We demonstrate how programmable physical computing devices (such as those from Micro:bit, Raspberry Pi, and Arduino) enable educators to center classroom learning experiences around real world problem-solving.
For example, we show how the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), provide a generative way of framing problems relevant to learners’ lives. Students of all abilities and experience can go to build technology-enabled solutions based on these goals.
To develop the courses, Arm School Program worked intensively with educators and academics. They are designed by teachers for teachers. As with all Arm Education courses on EdX, they are free-to-access with optional certification:
Course 1: Introduction to Project-Based Learning
Course 2: Practical applications and classroom strategies for PBL (launches May 5th)
Course 3: Assessment of Project-Based Learning (launches September 2021)
Course 4: Soft skills and the wider curriculum (launches October 2021)
All four courses are now open for enrollment, and teachers can begin working through Course 1 at their own pace.