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Teaching Computing Systems and Networks to 5- to 11-year-olds

Increase your knowledge of "computing systems & networks" and plan how you will teach young children about this topic.

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Teaching Computing Systems and Networks to 5- to 11-year-olds

Help young children understand the Computing Systems and Networks around them

Whether stand-alone, connected in a local network or plugged into the internet, computers are central to many everyday tasks and routines. It’s important for young people to develop their knowledge of how these devices work, so that they can appreciate the impacts that computers and networks have on the world around them.

On this three-week course you’ll explore how you can build up young learners’ knowledge in an age-appropriate manner. You’ll start by thinking about how you can to help your learners recognise information technology - and how computers process an input to give an output.


In the second week of the course, you’ll learn about the key pieces of technology that allow us to connect computers into networks, and the advantages that networks can bring. You’ll also consider how you can make the concept of a computer network relatable to young children.

The internet, the web, and networked services

By the end of week two, you’ll be able to explain why the internet and the world wide web are not the same thing - as well as identifying a range of services that run over the internet. This will provide you with a solid basis for the third week, in which you’ll investigate computer systems consisting of multiple devices working together.

Safety and digital citizenship

Young people also need to understand how to act on the internet - both for their own safety and to contribute to a pleasant online environment. You’ll think about the skills and attitudes that young people need, and how you can help them develop these not only while teaching about computer networks, but also more generally across the curriculum.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 3 seconds What is a computer system? And how can computer systems be joined to make networks? What’s the difference between the internet and the World Wide Web? How can you help young people become effective digital citizens? Do you want to teach computing to young people? This free course will develop your understanding of computing systems and networks. And build your confidence teaching these concepts to children aged 5 to 11. You’ll learn about information technology, and how computers use the Input Process Output model. You’ll explore networks in your everyday life. And you’ll consider effective pedagogy to help you teach your pupils. This three-week course also contains peer-led discussions, trainer interaction, and practical activities to help embed your new knowledge.

Skip to 1 minute and 5 seconds So whether you’re a teacher with students of your own or simply curious about computing, this course will help you start teaching computing systems and networks to 5 to 11-year-olds. Sign up now at rpf.io/primarycsn.


  • Week 1


    • An introduction to teaching computer systems and networks

      Discover what computing systems and networks are, and why it's important for children to know about them.

    • From technology to information technology

      Understand what is meant by the terms ‘technology’ and ‘information technology’ in respect of computer systems, and how these technologies impact on the lives of children.

    • Computer systems and input, process, output

      Learn how all computer systems feature inputs, processes, and outputs (IPO). Explore IPO in familiar devices, and how you can inspire children to be curious about technology.

  • Week 2


    • What is a network?

      Learn about how computer networks function, and how you can use the idea of connections to introduce the fundamental principles of computer networking to children.

    • The internet

      Discover how you can explain that the internet is a global network of networks that enables a variety of online services, including the World Wide Web. Find out how searching can shape the way children access information online.

    • Communication and collaboration online

      Explore classroom activities that exemplify the benefits of online communication and collaboration.

  • Week 3

    IT systems

    • IT systems

      Learn how computer systems and networks combine to form IT systems. Investigate the impact of these systems on society and how you can explain IT systems to children.

    • Safety and security

      Explore opportunities to teach online safety and how the choices children make using technology can impact their future prospects.

    • Digital citizenship

      Find out what a digital citizen is and learn how you can encourage positive behaviours by promoting good digital citizenship.

    • Next steps

      Discover where you can go for more support and how you can develop your wider computing knowledge and skills.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

If you'd like to take part while our educators are leading the course, they'll be joining the discussions, in the comments, between these dates:

  • 4 Oct 2021 - 25 Oct 2021

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explain the input, process, output (IPO) model of computing systems
  • Evaluate the impacts of computing systems and networks on everyday life
  • Model a computer network with your class
  • Summarise several ways in which people can communicate and collaborate over the internet
  • Lead your pupils through the working of big IT systems that span multiple networks
  • Demonstrate the skills and attitude needed to be a good digital citizen

Who is the course for?

This course is aimed at educators who work with learners aged 5 to 11 years old.

Who will you learn with?

I am a Learning Manager for the Raspberry Pi Foundation. In addition to creating educational resources, I enjoy looking at birds, clouds, stars or anything else in the sky.

Nuala has worked with the CoderDojo Foundation for over five years. She holds a First Class Honours BA from Trinity College Dublin, and enjoys podcasts, sea swims, long walks, and farming.

Who developed the course?

Raspberry Pi Foundation

The Raspberry Pi Foundation works to put the power of digital making into the hands of people all over the world, so they are capable of understanding and shaping our increasingly digital world.

National Centre for Computing Education

This course is part of our professional development teacher programme for the National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE). Our nationally-recognised certificates cater for all levels of teaching.

Funded by the Department for Education and supporting partners, we aim to transform the way computing is taught in schools across England, and enable more young people to benefit from studying this important subject.

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Available until 22 November 2021 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

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