Highlights from 2020: our year in review

Author: Sophia Aker, programme coordinator

What a year! It's been a rollercoaster but nevertheless, we’ve had some great highs and reached amazing milestones this year. It’s been a first for us in so many ways, from creating new follow-along videos, to hosting the Grand Final exclusively online. Through it all, we’re incredibly proud of all our Lead Teachers who have persisted and overcome so many challenges.

We’d like to reflect back on some of the moments that made this year for us, as we look forward to everything that the new year has to come!

January

January started with a bang, as we hosted the first Visionaries event with e-Magine at the iconic Alexandra Palace. This pitch and presentation challenge for young female students also invited mentors from across the video games industry, from leading organisations such as Nintendo, Activision Blizzard, Scirra and more! See photos from the event here.  

February

The DSH esports regional qualifiers kicked off, and participants readied their school champs for the next critical stage. We ran 12 regional qualifiers as part of the Digital Schoolhouse Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Team Battle across 12 locations from the south of England through to Northern Ireland. Naturally, there was a great sense of community spirit and alliance at each of the events (as well as some healthy competition, of course)!

March

March was a month of firsts. We made the sad but right decision to postpone the remaining esports qualifiers. Out of the pandemic grew the Computing At Home series on our YouTube channel, hosted our Curriculum Content Developer Estelle on our YouTube channel. We released our first ever series of follow-along videos of our most popular computing activities that use ordinary household objects, all accessible on our YouTube channel. Our follow-along lessons introduce key computational thinking concepts, in addition to exploring different subjects from English to Physics and online safety, to help parents and teacher navigating the new challenges of home learning.

It started with a groovy follow-along to our most popular workshop, Just Dance with the Algorithm!

April

In the spirit of bringing creativity and colour to people at home, Laura skilfully curated Ukie Education's free downloadable colouring book, with the help of a variety of talented individuals from the video games industry who submitted their artwork. The result, a vibrant colouring book for children and adults alike to fill in the blanks!

Meanwhile, Ukie pets met for the first time, as Estelle’s horse Rico and Sophia’s new puppy Nacho met over a Teams call for the very first time. 

May

Impact report was released, revealing that 98% of visiting school pupils feeling more confident in computing after being involved in a Digital Schoolhouse workshop. We're incredibly proud of the wholistic benefits to pupils, teachers and schools that the programme demonstrates through this report!

June

How to Raise a Tech Genius by Shahneila Saeed, director of Digital Schoolhouse was released. How to Raise a Tech Genius is a practical book that makes computing accessible for parents, carers and families, using only household objects and no technology!


Meanwhile, we hosted our very first online Summer Boot-up Camp. While we couldn’t meet in person this time, we made sure to invite everyone virtually, and did our best to welcome new faces to the programme. We delivered a three day Zoom call to over 50 teachers and loved seeing faces new and familiar across our screens!  

July

We hosted our last live workshop in our Computing at Home series, where Estelle was joined by none other than special guest, TV presenter and journalist Elle Osili-Wood. Eco Gamer was developed in partnership with BAFTA Elle Osili-Wood joins Estelle in DSH live workshop finale with BAFTA - 21 July

August

We were thrilled to partner with Middlesex University to encourage the next generation of digital creators to learn new skills in games design. Over the course of three weeks in August, students participated in the free Summer Success Camp to develop KS3 numeracy and literacy, embed digital skills and explore careers opportunities. Lead teacher at Neatherd High School, Michael Skilton, delivered 9 hours’ worth of content to aspiring students, all available to watch online!

That same month, New research published by the National Literacy Trust was released with findings that playing video games can support young people’s literacy, creativity and empathy, while parents say communicating with friends through video games during lockdown has been helpful for their child’s mental well being.

We also released our new research report Online safety: A parent’s perspective, which found that parents rated quite highly on their confidence to keep themselves safe online and their confidence in their child’s ability in keeping themselves safe. It found that 85% of parents speak to their children about the importance of online safety.

September

Digital Schoolhouse partnered with Kucheza Gaming to deliver Computer Science lessons to young people in Nigeria from September 2020. The vision, to mirror our success in the UK through introducing games-centric resources and ‘unplugged’ activities (requiring no technology) to young people in Nigeria. https://www.digitalschoolhouse.org.uk/news/digital-schoolhouse-launches-in-nigeria


October

The winner to our Superheroes Unite! Creative writing competition were announced Andy Hall, principal writer at Creative Assembly, and children’s author Gabrielle Kent were impressed by Evie and Isabel’s compelling superhero story using our six new characters!

November
New college Swindon were crowned DSH Esports National Champions. Reaching a much-anticipated conclusion, the grand final of the Digital Schoolhouse Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Team Battle 2020 saw our 13 semi-finalists battle it out for a chance to become Smash Bros. Ultimate champions and wrap our debut virtual finale. The year-long competition saw its usual explosive end with hosts Alysia JudgeNimmz and Bowie, production by Gfinity and our landmark careers panel to boot.

December

We opened registration of interest for the first ever Game Jam with Kucheza Gaming, Edu360, WaterAid and Into Games. This global game-making challenge will see young innovators from across the globe compete to create games that combine creativity, compassion and computational thinking to solve a worldwide problem. Register your interest now!

That’s our year in a nutshell! We hope that everybody has a safe and happy festive period and look forward to a new year.

See you next year!

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