Great news everybody – the number of students choosing computing GCSEs doubled in 2015. However, only 16% of these students were girls – bad news. It’s essential to close the gap and for girls to develop the confidence to thrive in a digital future, so what can be done? TechFuture Girls is one organisation working hard to super-charge girls’ digital skills, and with sponsorship from Hewlett Packard Enterprise, have created a free, out-of-the-box online resource for students aged 9-14 years old.
As a teacher it can be difficult to find suitable cyber security and e-safety material for girls which are both fun and informative. Protect the Island and other learning games available at TechFuture Girls provide a superb platform covering every aspect of the computing curriculum in an engaging way and for girls to discover and prepare to venture out into the digital space in a fun, visual, and age appropriate way. The sponsorship from Hewlett Packard Enterprise now means that all teachers in the UK can use the resource for free, you can sign up at TechFutureGirls.com.
At every stage the site reinforces the idea that digital skills can lead to great careers for girls in tech in the future. Many of the stimulus videos on the site consist of short clips of real designers, software engineers and developers offering case studies using female role models showing possible routes into digital industries.
Whether one uses TechFuture Girls in class, part of a lunchtime, after school club or even as a homework task, the site provides an inspirational platform for girls to learn about the tricky subject of cyber security in a fun and engaging way. Security experts often say that the weakest point in digital security is the user them self.
The platform is divided into a series of easy to navigate zones, represented by islands. Each island houses a collection of tasks, games and information. In the Protect the Island zone your class must out-fox the cyber baddies in a series of four progressively more difficult challenges. Each task is wonderfully illustrated and designed to include animated videos and storylines. The narrative is that the team are developing a social media app and the players must defend its secrets while it is being completed. The challenges include playing ‘guess who’ choosing which members of company staff are a security risk because of their slapdash digital practices, discovering poor cyber security practices around the office, discovering the members of the team with details about what they do and how they started in their careers, which encourages girls to think about their own options.
Other island zones include setting up an online fashion shop, a sports section with opportunities to practise digital publishing skills, computer-aided architecture and interior design, building audio/video skills as a music producer, and practising communicate and promotional skills as a charity campaigner.
Setting up your class or girls computing club is simple and can be achieve via the teacher’s facilitator account. Firstly, sign up for free at TechFutureGirls.com. Once in your account you can simply add pupil information and set passwords in the ‘manage members’ area, by typing manually, or uploading the data using a spreadsheet. From the facilitator’s dashboard the teacher can see the progress of the students, award them bonus credits and manage their accounts. There is also a wealth of downloadable materials and further information for teachers to use in their teaching and to develop further activities.
By completing the activities on this superb site girls will develop the essential habits to keep themselves and others safe when using digital technology and may be inspired along the way to consider the fantastic career potential girls in tech have.
Curriculum for KS2/3
- Ensure that all pupils are responsible, competent, confident and creative users of information and communication technology.
- Pupils should understand a range of ways to use technology safely, respectfully, responsibly and securely, including protecting their online identity and privacy; recognise inappropriate content, contact and conduct, and know how to report concerns.
This is a promoted feature on behalf of TechFuture Girls