THE BLOG

The Digital Butterfly Effect

09/03/2017 15:52

Any scroll through a news feed will tell you that the world is changing rapidly. Britain will likely see some of the greatest political and economic changes in living memory in the coming years, and the way we work and interact with the world around us will be changing too. It's crucial we keep up, or we'll all be left behind.

Tech is integral to many of these changes. If we're to thrive in times of change - creating and shaping technology is key.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of us are simply consumers of tech. Adults and children alike. While the next generation are digital natives, many won't be able to tell you how tech works, or how to create their own.

Programmes like the Barefoot Computing Project, as part of BT's wider Tech Literacy initiative, are working to change that.

Barefoot helps ensure young people grow up knowing how to get the most out of technology by starting at the primary school level.

By supporting teachers with free resources and workshops - we're beginning to make real strides towards ensuring all young people grow up with the know-how they'll need to succeed in our digital world.

On February 23rd, we celebrated reaching one million primary school pupils.

That's a huge achievement - but it's just the beginning. It's only by galvanising entire communities of parents, teachers and influence that we can make the greatest impact on young people's futures.

Barefoot is something we can all believe in and share. What makes Barefoot special is it helps plant the seeds of computational thinking at a primary level.

It can and does work with the varying curricula of the UK, and helps not only computing skills - but also English, Maths, Science and a whole host of other skills.

After all, it is the "thinking" aspects, getting to grips with concepts like logic, sequencing, abstraction and debugging that underpin the digital world.
It's time to mobilise.

While we are pleased one million pupils have begun the process of thinking computationally, we don't want to stop there. Our mission is to turn as many members of the next generation as possible from passive users to active creators of tech.

We are hoping that the popularity of Barefoot will create a digital butterfly effect, with other businesses following suit; supporting the programme (and similar initiatives) and contributing to the growing movement of Tech Literacy.

So far, it seems to be working. Research from Ipsos MORI and BT found that 84% of teachers who have accessed Barefoot materials now understand computational thinking, compared to just 57% of their peers who hadn't been involved.

This kind of thinking isn't just beneficial to traditionally tech subjects. It was also found that 96% of teachers felt that computational thinking improves numeracy, 69% said it helps with literacy and 99% agree it supports crucial soft skills like problem-solving.

The same study also showed how important it is for the UK to step up its efforts on primary school tech literacy. 78% of primary school teachers think tech literacy is as important as reading and writing, with 75% strongly agreeing that it's their job to prepare pupils for a digital world - but only 25% strongly agreed that they felt prepared to play this vital role.

What's next?
While reaching one million pupils is a good start, it's just a pebble in the pond from which the ripples will grow. Our long term aim is to reach five million across our entire Tech Literacy programme, but we can't do it alone.

While we will still be working tirelessly to spread the word about Barefoot and other programmes that support Tech Literacy, our next step is to take what we've learned, build on our momentum and create further partnerships for an even greater future impact.

We have a long road ahead of us as a nation, but small changes to the way our children think and learn will make the journey smoother. While it is ultimately the teachers who will make that happen, we will do everything we can to help them get there.

Notes:

If you'd like to see what BT and other organisations are doing to help promote Tech Literacy in the UK and around the world - visit www.techliteracy.co.uk

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