Digital education on the rise as new cyber cafés to crop up in Greater Manchester

As part of hosting company UKFast’s mission to promote, motivate and encourage digital education, the local organisation has begun a new programme of developing cyber cafés across the Greater Manchester region.

Not just your average 90s internet café, these cyber spots are kitted out with Raspberry Pi computers, known for promoting the learning of computer science and programming.

UKFast is based in Manchester and specialises in dedicated servers, cloud hosting and colocation services across the UK.

In recent times, it has gained a lot of recognition for its community programmes and initiatives, with which the company aims to foster the growth and development of digital education and learning.

The Raspberry Pi has been around since 2012 and was developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation with the aim of improving computer programming and hardware understanding across the world.

It is a small form, low-cost computer that is capable of carrying out the basic functions of a normal computer, while being a flexible tool for people to experiment with. While it was originally intended for education purposes in developing countries and schools, it has now developed into a tool with lots of advantages for businesses and tech enthusiasts on a broader level.

Entrepreneurial types embracing the technology in a variety of ways to enhance their business, from creating a server to use with a business email address, to IT troubleshooting tools, and much more. The innovative possibilities of the Raspberry Pi are practically endless.

UKFast revealed plans for creating five cyber cafés for schools, each equipped with Raspberry Pis. The project hopes to inspire a new generation of budding tech enthusiasts in a different format and setting to a traditional classroom environment.

It will target diverse areas where there is a particular lack of resources in digital education. The selected sites include: Holy Name RC Primary School in Moss Side, St Bedes Prep School in Hulme, Alderley Edge School for Girls, The Hollins Tech College in Accrington, and Factory Youth Zone in North Manchester.

The interest in computer science amongst women has always been lacking. This can be seen in the imbalance of male and female students at Manchester University studying computer science: in 2015, just one fifth of the computer science undergrad students were female.

The UKFast programme aims to change this and has therefore included an all-girls school in the mix.

Judging by the success of the Broadoak School Raspberry Pi Café, which launched in 2015, there are great benefits to be seen amongst the pupils; the project is mostly appreciated for its refreshing departure from traditional education methods.

Image courtesy of Jeff Turner via Flickr, with thanks.

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