Welcome to Coding Corner-this is a column about computing and coding. Written by Dan Aldred (@Dan_Aldred) who is well worth a follow on Twitter. Dan’s article is about engaging students with the Raspberry Pi.


Much has been said of the Raspberry Pi and its usefulness as a tool for learning. The long waiting lists and competitive price of the Pi have created widespread euphoria and excitement.

However, as all the excitement dies and we begin to receive your Pi many critics have appeared asking how useful is the Pi?

Many critics and blog posts are comparing it to the iPad and which is futile as they are polar opposites. The Pi was developed as a tool to invoke learning not as a wow piece of technology. The Pi is for content creation as oppose to content consumption. It is not the physical Pi that is the exciting technology. You don’t purchase it because of the processor speed, graphics ability or even its size. Its fundamental strength is as vehicle to develop students computing competence and understanding.

Despite the long waiting list several students have purchased a Pi and brought them into school. This is where the true purchase and usefulness of the Pi becomes apparent. This is where the true learning begins.

The first learning curve was the set up. Students read blogs, forums and websites for months to discover how to flash the SD card and install the software. There was excitement and competition amongst students as to who would complete the first successful install

Other students who were less confident shared their knowledge and issues with each other. Looking for ways to resolve and support each other. Independently, with no teacher input, students knew how to and were, setting up a computer, installing hardware and drivers, operating system and software.

Students would then come in each day discussing, sharing and collaborating about what they had learnt, experienced and even failed to do the evening before, with their Pi. Each studentcontinuously developing their own computing skills, at their own pace.

Many students become competitive about how to shutdown the Pi, well it’s just, ‘halt’ but what about a complete system shutdown. Several students spent time searching more websites or just logically trying to work out what the command was.

Then they shared this knowledge with each other.One student cracked it when he realised that you had to be a super user and searched the Internet for the shutdown command for a super user.

Complete experimentation and unadulterated independent learning and still no teacher input.

The following week a student broughtin theirown simple command line program using the Python language which is free with the Pi. The student had taught himself the Python language, the program asks the user to enter a word, if the word is bigger than 5 characters then the program continuouslyloops a response, if not it says goodbye.

This simple program impressed the student and inspired them.It was not the physical Pihardware; it was the program and the fact that it had been created by their peer group. Severalother students, having seen this program went home and ordered a Pi.

The next day another student came in and had written an advanced version of the program

So far 27 studentshave ordered a Pi and in September when we return to school, we start the Pi Club. However, I know that many of the students will have spent their summer holidays self learningPython and the Raspberry Pi’s functions.

sudo shutdown -s Aldred is a teacher of Computing and Head of IT. He is also a member of the school extended leadership team and teacher learning group.  He’s interested in how technology and software move learning forward.

He also has a very useful Scoop it page full of great links.

Written by Julian S Wood -"rel="author"
  • Felix Jotham

    Hi Dan,

    I am wondering if the approach of letting the students figure out how the Raspberry Pi works on their own is a good thing for them.  I personally think it is because this is how I learned to program as a child but I feel as though they are expecting the Raspberry Pi to be the next Xbox as this is what they are used to.  Another problem for the children especially the younger children is obtaining and understanding the information without spending hours on the internet.  One child has managed to find a book for schools which has been helpful.  The books is called Raspberry
    Pi For Schools
    .  If you know of any other resources or books please post them.


    Linda J.

About me
UK Primary School Future Learning Technologist.I am into Experience and Fun Based Learning.I use web tools to stimulate writing. I've been Playing and Learning since 1970. Have some fabulous ideas now & again.. Check out my profile!
Click Here to View All Nominated Educators
My LinkedIn Profile

To see my LinkedIn profile, click here:

Julian S Wood
Email subscription to blog
Privacy Policy
Privacy Policy -

Privacy Policy for

If you require any more information or have any questions about our privacy policy, please feel free to contact us by email at

At, the privacy of our visitors is of extreme importance to us. This privacy policy document outlines the types of personal information is received and collected by and how it is used.

Log Files
Like many other Web sites, makes use of log files. The information inside the log files includes internet protocol ( IP ) addresses, type of browser, Internet Service Provider ( ISP ), date/time stamp, referring/exit pages, and number of clicks to analyze trends, administer the site, track users movement around the site, and gather demographic information. IP addresses, and other such information are not linked to any information that is personally identifiable.

Cookies and Web Beacons does not use cookies.

DoubleClick DART Cookie

.:: Google, as a third party vendor, uses cookies to serve ads on
.:: Google's use of the DART cookie enables it to serve ads to your users based on their visit to and other sites on the Internet.
.:: Users may opt out of the use of the DART cookie by visiting the Google ad and content network privacy policy at the following URL -

Some of our advertising partners may use cookies and web beacons on our site. Our advertising partners include
Google Adsense

These third-party ad servers or ad networks use technology to the advertisements and links that appear on send directly to your browsers. They automatically receive your IP address when this occurs. Other technologies ( such as cookies, JavaScript, or Web Beacons ) may also be used by the third-party ad networks to measure the effectiveness of their advertisements and / or to personalize the advertising content that you see. has no access to or control over these cookies that are used by third-party advertisers.

You should consult the respective privacy policies of these third-party ad servers for more detailed information on their practices as well as for instructions about how to opt-out of certain practices.'s privacy policy does not apply to, and we cannot control the activities of, such other advertisers or web sites.

If you wish to disable cookies, you may do so through your individual browser options. More detailed information about cookie management with specific web browsers can be found at the browsers' respective websites.