ROOM VI — Tuesday, 12:10-13:30

Using mobile technology to engage African women in science and mathematics education: Outcomes of a trial with Raspberry Pi

OER4Schools is an open professional development programme for school-based teacher education, supporting teachers to embed interactive methods of teaching and learning into classroom practice. It moves beyond technology- and skills-focused initiatives by highlighting the crucial role of teacher support in promoting innovation and experimentation with teaching styles. We focus on learning, moving away from superficial repetition of facts towards deeper learning. OER4Schools develops teachers’ capability to use mobile technologies, OER and Open Source software effectively to support student learning in STEM through active participation, dialogue and collaborative inquiry.

OER4Schools can be used with a range of mobile technologies (tablets, netbooks, etc.), and we have recently started to experiment with the low-cost Raspberry Pi computer. In collaboration with a group of eight female STEM (education) lecturers and students (based in six countries in sub-Saharan Africa), we are determining enabling and constraining factors in the use of Raspberry Pi, as well as gender-sensitive approaches to technology use. Methods included questionnaires, reflective accounts and semi-structured interviews. We present outcomes from three years of trialling OER4Schools in Zambia, which include: raised teacher expectations of pupil achievement, adapting to their knowledge levels, use of more practical and group work, and integrated technology use. Students built deeper subject understanding, collaborated with peers and engaged in genuine problem-solving.

We also present initial results from work with OER4Schools and Raspberry Pi in Sierra Leone. Given the constraints imposed by Ebola, our female researcher trialled Raspberry Pi-based activities as part of one-to-one tuition for secondary-school-age girls. We explored inquiry-based activities drawing on GeoGebra, Scratch and Minecraft, as well as activities involving measurement, sensors and physical computing. Our research questions include: How can projects be designed to specifically target girls, and how might such projects appeal also to girls’ school teachers and female science teachers? How can such projects overcome some of the challenges girls face? The outcomes of this exploratory work are informing our work on developing gender-sensitive activities for teaching science and mathematics with Raspberry Pi.

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Bridget Bannerman

Bridget Bannerman is a doctoral researcher and Schlumberger Research fellow at the Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge; a member of the Cambridge Association of Women in Science and Engineering; and the initiator and founding member of the Sierra Leone Association of Women in Science and Engineering.

Ms Bannerman is the pioneer of Science Education Workshops in Freetown, Sierra Leone, from 2012 to date ( and collaborates with scientists both in Cambridge, UK, and the University of Sierra Leone to promote science education especially among girls in Sierra Leone.

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