Mr Miles Berry is the Principal Lecturer and subject leader for Computing Education at the University of Roehampton, United Kingdom (UK). His primary research focus is the role of online communities in the professional development of teachers. His other professional interests include knowledge management in education, use of open source software in schools, and independent learning.
Mr Berry was a primary school teacher and subsequently a Head Teacher (Principal) in a primary school in the UK before he joined University of Roehampton. In the university, he teaches initial teacher training courses, and tutors Masters students. Other than teaching, Mr Berry has a number of consultancy projects, particularly in the field of curriculum development, both in the UK and internationally, and he has authored a number of computing textbooks. He was also involved in the drafting of the computing national curriculum (UK) rolled out in 2014.
With Mr Berry’s range of experience, during his stint with AST, he conducted three different Master Classes to over 150 teachers from primary schools to junior colleges. He shared with the teachers and key personnel from schools the role of computing education in the UK curriculum landscape, and how computer education provides a good platform to inculcate computational thinking. Mr Berry shared how he perceived introducing Info-Communication Technologies (ICT) and computer education as responding to the “breadth” of education. Teaching computing allows students to go deep into the ‘how’ and ‘how-to’ of computing and coding, and more importantly, he posited that it would develop computational thinking which equips our students with the ability to solve problems efficiently and creatively, thus helping them to overcome issues encountered in their everyday life.
During the Master Classes, Mr Berry also provided many hands-on opportunities for teachers to practise programming skills through the use of Scratch, a programming language developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that is widely used in schools in Singapore. Participants of the Master Classes appreciated the range of techniques that they learnt, not just on how to use Scratch as a programming tool, but also on how they can introduce programming and computational thinking to their students.
In addition, Mr Berry also visited three schools, where he observed how technology is incorporated into teaching and learning. He provided feedback on the computing lessons that he sat in, and also had the opportunity to teach the use of algorithms in computing to a class of local students. One key strategy he proposed was for students to be given the opportunity to explore the programming language through exploration with guidance by the teacher, instead of step-by-step instructions which remove the spirit of curiosity and the joy of discovery.
Mr Berry also entered into a dialogue with officers from Curriculum Planning and Development Division (CPDD) and Educational Technology Division (ETD). At that session, he shared with HQ officers the UK experience on how computing is made a mandatory subject from ages 5 to 16 in 2014, and the implementation journey.
Mr Berry’s enthusiasm and passion for the teaching of computing and computational thinking could be strongly felt by those who have interacted with him during his two-week attachment in Singapore. His deep knowledge in the subject field and his generosity in sharing his resources and teaching ideas have been impressive, and our teachers and officers greatly appreciate having had this rare chance to meet with him through this OEIR programme.