Five Ways to Make Computing Interesting

You don't have to be a geek to make Computing interesting. In fact, it's probably better if you're not. Computing geeks tend to forget that the rest of us don't regard an evening looking at binary numbers as the most entertaining thing in the world.

Alright, so I am painting a caricature, but you know exactly what I mean.

So, here you are, you've been cajoled, forced or persuaded to teach Computing, which isn't completely within your comfort zone. (This is exactly the position in which thousands of teachers in England find themselves since the National Curriculum was changed last September.) What do you do?

Become an expert

First, it's essential to know something about the subject you're teaching, and the more you know the better. Every study into what makes a good teacher cites subject expertise as a key factor. Although there are plenty of websites that teach you coding, I don't like any of them. I much prefer learning with a purpose, and getting the computer to print a message on screen like "Hello, world" doesn't seem like much of a purpose to me.

A good place to start is the free ebook, Computing without Computers. It explains computing concepts without using any jargon at all. Download it from here:

Another useful website is the Computer Science Teachers Association, at, which has plenty of great resources. And then there is Computer Science Unplugged, at, which has free resources for use in the classroom.


I think it's essential to collaborate with other teachers, whether they are in your school, in another school or through online contacts. Nobody knows everything, and nobody has a monopoly on good ideas, which is why going it alone is not a wonderful idea.

The one caveat I have about only working with teachers in your own school is that you may all have the same (restricted) ideas about what is possible and what is good. It definitely pays to step outside your usual circle.

Think local

We all spend so much time thinking about the resources available from all over the world that we forget about what's on our own doorstep. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Apart from actually walking or driving around your neighbourhood to find out what's there and what you can use, try searching for "digital ". I have often found that that presents me with the names of organisations that are happy to work with schools.

Think business

Businesses often love working with schools, and sometimes it's part of their corporate social responsibility to do so. There are many ways they can help, from giving you access to teaching resources, to sending someone along to give your students a talk right through to running some sort of whole-day simulation in your school.

Dare to be different

Finally, try to get away from the usual examples and scenarios. Think of different contexts and problems. For example, how could aspects of Computing be useful in helping to renovate a local park? What about road safety around the school?

If you can't think of any ideas yourself, then work with a teacher who is not a Computing specialist. That is to say, if you can't think outside the box, then use another box!

Bottom line: there is no reason on earth why Computing should be boring, or just for the geeks!

Terry Freedman is an independent educational ICT and Computing consultant in England. He publishes the ICT in Education website at