App creation in schools for different curricula subjects - lesson learned

by   Bernadette Spieler, et al.

The next generation of jobs will be characterized by an increased demand for people with computational and problem solving skills. In Austria, computer science topics are underrepresented in school curricula hence teaching time for these topics is limited. From primary through secondary school, only a few opportunities exist for young students to explore programming. Furthermore, today's teachers are rarely trained in computer science, which impairs their potential to motivate students in these courses. Within the "No One Left Behind" (NOLB) project, teachers were supported to guide and assist their students in their learning processes by constructing ideas through game making. Thus, students created games that referred to different subject areas by using the programming tool Pocket Code, an app developed at Graz University of Technology (TU-Graz). This tool helps students to take control of their own education, becoming more engaged, interested, and empowered as a result. To ensure an optimal integration of the app in diverse subjects the different backgrounds (technical and non-technical) of teachers must be considered as well. First, teachers were supported to use Pocket Code in the different subjects in school within the feasibility study of the project. Observed challenges and difficulties using the app have been gathered. Second, we conducted interviews with teachers and students to underpin our onsite observations. As a result, it was possible to validate Pocket Codes' potential to be used in a diverse range of subjects. Third, we focused especially on those teachers who were not technically trained to provide them with a framework for Pocket Code units, e.g., with the help of structured lesson plans and predefined templates.



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