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Department of Computer Science and Technology

Through a partnership with a research centre here, Micro:bit Educational Foundation is supporting a PhD student who wants to help more children around the world to acquire digital skills.

The Foundation has formed a partnership with the Raspberry Pi Computing Education Research Centre, which is based here in the Department, and pledged to support a PhD student at the Centre.

Student Salomey Addo studied AI and machine learning as part of her Master’s degree at AIMS Ghana (the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences). She subsequently worked at Leuphana University in Germany teaching data science to undergraduates.

Salomey has a keen interest in equal access and education, and realised early on how crucial a digitally skilled workforce is to opening up opportunities and closing economic divides.

Stranded at home during the early months of the pandemic in 2020, she decided to offer classes in English, maths and programming to the children in her home area in Ghana. This is when she discovered that most of her pupils had never come across programming and computing in their lives, even though digital literacy is becoming more indispensable every year.

Best known for their micro:bit hardware, which might be familiar to many pupils and their teachers across the world, the Micro:bit Education Foundation was founded in 2016 to inspire every child to create their best digital future. Their programmes aim to engage young people in tech, especially the ones who might not otherwise have been interested in computing or chosen to study STEM subjects.

The Foundation’s vision is to inspire and diversify the future of computing, and to boost social equity and international talent. 

Computing Education Research
Computing education research is a young field, particularly at school (K–12) level, and has been slow to develop in the UK (in comparison with the USA, for example.)

In England, a new Computing curriculum has been implemented since 2014. "We really need robust and rigorous research to understand and enhance teaching and learning in the subject," says Dr Sue Sentance, Director of the Raspberry Pi Computing Education Research Centre. 

"It's crucial," she adds, "that we create a pipeline through supporting PhD students in this field – these young researchers will be the Professors of computer science education of the future. From 2023, the Micro:bit Foundation has pledged to support a PhD student at the Raspberry Pi Computing Education Research Centre. We are absolutely delighted to receive this donation to help support a PhD student and to welcome Salomey Addo to the Centre."  

Salomey Addo
Salomey has a background in Economics and Mathematics, as well as experience of teaching programming and data science to both young people and undergraduates. She will be focusing on research into approaches to the teaching and learning of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

She is concerned that rapid developments in AI, and the understanding of how they work, may not be accessible to all young people. 

Through her PhD, Salomey plans to explore the best ways to transfer knowledge and skills relating to AI to children from under-privileged backgrounds across the world.

Published by Rachel Gardner on Monday 6th March 2023