A preview of the new Cambridge GCSE Computing Online!

We get a lot of emails saying: “Why aren’t you working on any schools stuff? We want to see materials!” The answer, up until now, has always been: “We’re working on it!” Here’s a sneak preview of what we’ve been doing. Working with OCR and Cambridge University Press, we’ve been producing a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) based around the GCSE Computing syllabus. You can have a look at what it’ll look like, and see some of the first videos and other materials we’ve produced for the course, today.

This MOOC will comprise an enormous suite of short, interactive videos and animations on every part of the curriculum, all presented by some of the UK’s best teachers. Most of what you’ll see at the moment is presented by Clive Beale, our Head of Educational Development and a kick-ass Computing teacher; we’re working with and filming with other teachers at the moment too. All of these videos will be supported by written materials, and audio and text transcripts of everything on the course will also be available for disabled students.

This is, we believe, the first MOOC linked to a formal GCSE qualification. Learning and teaching resources from Cambridge University Press will accompany each video (scroll right down to the bottom of the screen to find links to the resources – if you watch the videos in this area you’ll be able to see some of the interactivity), so teachers who have so far been teaching ICT rather than Computing will have support in any new materials. We envisage the MOOC being used in several different ways: a teacher can use a video at the start of a class to introduce a topic, or at the end to consolidate the learning that’s been done in a lesson; it can also be used by kids at home to reinforce what they’ve been learning at school. If you’re somewhere without access to a teacher – this MOOC is open to everyone, all over the world, not just schools – you can use it to learn all the material on the GCSE course on your own.

Part of the supporting materials for teachers. Click to see the whole document.

It’s important to us that these materials aren’t just available to people attached to schools; and that they’re not just available in the UK. Many online courses can only be accessed if you’re at a place of learning, but we wanted to see this course made open to anyone, anywhere in the world.

We want the materials in the MOOC to offer rigorous, interesting, engaging work and support for students and for teachers. If you’re a kid who wants to go beyond the syllabus, there will be plenty of opportunity to do that. Alongside around 120 “spine” videos which cover the entirety of the GCSE course, there will be several supplementary “ribcage” resources attached to each point of learning, which will take you further and teach you more if you want to go into the subject in more depth.

Part of an interactive video exercise. Click to do the exercise yourself, with help from Clive.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is very lucky to be based in Cambridge, where OCR, who we believe offer the best Computing resources out there in the UK at the moment, have their headquarters too. OCR is a branch of the University of Cambridge, and the platform that all this is built on is developed at the University of Cambridge Computer lab. Cambridge University Press will be providing written teaching and learning resources, and together all of these resources will add up to an entire course of study for the Computing GCSE.

We will start rolling out the MOOC formally in September, with 40 videos and all the associated MOOC content. Eventually, there will be more than 120 videos and animations to work through, and many times more pieces of supporting material which will help take you deeper into the subject.

We’ll be working hard with our partners on writing, scheduling and building the course for many months to come. Have a poke around the website (bearing in mind that it’s not even a beta release yet – this is very much a work in progress, so you’ll find some unpopulated links) and let us know what you think.  If you are a teacher and would like to get involved, drop me a line at liz@raspberrypi.org, and I’ll put you in touch with the organisers.

73 comments

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Excellent work. I feel it is very important that this material is available worldwide. Who knows what it may inspire ?

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Us too – I really think making materials like these universally accessible is key. I’m hoping we’ll see offline installations too when the course is completed, like the Khan Academy Lite materials we’ve been talking about over the last few months, for places without any connectivity.

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so which of us old fogies are going to be the 1st one to see if we could pass a GCSE these days?

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Apparently, that’d be you, Scone. :)

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i am tempted but my track record for procrastination and apathy is well known. and i always liked the exams that you just turned up to and did rather than the ones that required course work as well. exams with no course work component i passed well, exams with a course work requirement i was batting about 500.

i am tempted though as i always fancied doing an OU course or two over here but at 13 grand for the CS course not a snowballs chance

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I’d be more than happy to mark your coursework scone. *rubs hands together in evil glee*

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On the latest Raspbian OCR has an icon on the X desktop. But their site displays horrible in Midori when you click the icon. Since first impressions count I hope this can be improved (simpler page for the Raspberry Pi ???)

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Noooooo. Not sprouts and prawns!

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He said it actually tasted rather nice. One of our trustees, who will not be named, complained on seeing the video that children may try to replicate the demonstration, and that with this in mind, Clive should be seen to wash the sprouts. As you can see, this advice was not heeded.

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Washing the sprouts would have rendered his comments about “emptying his recycle bin” redundant. (perhaps)

The sillier the better – more memorable. I thought the video was superb.

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It all looks promising, but I hope the course will not have the glaring errors in it that are shown in the ‘Overclocking’ example:

1) We are told that the clock speed of 700Mhz equates to 700 Million Instructions per second, but most processor instructions take up more than 1 clock cycle, and so this is not strictly true.
2) After being told the clock speed is 700Mhz, we are then told in the conclusion that clock speed is measured in Ghz.

This is obvious to those in the know, but is potentially baffling to those newcomers who the course is aimed at.

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You know how in the Chemistry GCSE syllabus covalent bonding is explained in a way that’s basically a fiction so all the kids can get their heads around it, and the ones who go on to A level are then taught differently when they start the A level syllabus? Same thing.

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All we learnt in Chemistry A Level was how to make Orange Wine and then distill it into Spirits. that’s what happens when you have a Liverpudlian Chemistry teacher who marries the landladies daughter of the local pub

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[nitpick] shouldn’t that be landlady’s daughter?[/nitpick]

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No, I didn’t know that – but then I did my O & A Levels back in the mid to late 1970s, and I failed to understanding chemistry until later in life. I always thought it was because of a lack of interest, but now I can see that it was because I was baffled by the teachers not telling me the truth. I’m now disappointed with my past education – it was all lies

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If it helps, when my friend started his degree in Chemistry, he was told to forget everything he was taught at A-level as it was the ‘whole’ truth.

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Now I’m even more baffled – how have I survived for so long now I find out all my beliefs have been an illusion – I’m distraught

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i agree
if the teacher can communicate the *right* thing first up, then he/she is the right teacher.

In Industry its called “get it right the first time”. some times called “pack up your kit and go home” if you dont.

Its why the first thing a graduate gets told “forget what you learned in school”.

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First thing my A-level Biology teacher told us, in the first lesson: “everything we taught you in GCSE was wrong”

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Hi Dio — thanks for the comments.

The videos support written materials that are specific to the GCSE and course specification. The videos, especially the ad hoc demo parts, are not chapters from technical textbooks or scripts from a university lecture but just a lesson as I would teach it in the classroom (other teachers would do it differently). I don’t see any “glaring errors” myself, just different ways of talking about a topic to a specific audience. (We call this “teaching” ;) )

For example, I firstly say that clock speed is measured in Hz. I then say it can do so many “things” per second — “things” is not a technical term yet is appropriate at this level. I then talk about MHz because it’s on the Raspberry Pi screen — I’m aware of my use of the word “instruction” here but in this context I’m happy with it as the fetch-execute cycle, and instructions taking more than one cycle, are dealt with in a previous topic. At the end I deliberately use Ghz because in a classroom I would use the school PCs as an example and it’s the measurement that people typically encounter in adverts and shops. In short: it’s a lesson, not a Wikipedia page.

All of this is to cover the course requirement that candidates should be able to: “explain how common characteristics of CPUs such as clock speed … affect their performance.” Do the video and associated resources do this? Yes, I think that they do.

So to pre-empt anyone telling me that the clock isn’t actually a “chunk” of quartz or that my board pen wasn’t exactly 14.99 cm long — I know! :) Of course we want feedback on this pilot — and do please let us know of any errors — but when doing so please keep in mind the audience and the specification, and that a single video sits alongside a bunch of other videos and resources that teach a specific topic area. Thanks for the feedback.

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Thanks for the in depth explanation Clive. As you say, I am the wrong audience, and it is a long time since I was at school. As an ageing techie for a big IT company, my immediate instinct as a roaming troubleshooter is to notice inconsistencies, and my techie head kicked in.

As I said it all looks promising. I wish I had access to the same sort of education that can be provided by today’s technology – maybe I would have found lessons more interesting.

I wish you good luck with the courses – the example looks very stylish and well presented.

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I agree it has to be pitched at the right level, which may involve simplifying some things. I’m just really pleased that this stuff is getting back into schools after a long break.

I don’t know how useful this background information is for teachers, but the relationship between clock rate and performance is actually quite complex these days. As has already been pointed out, some instructions take more than one clock cycle. In some circumstances, the CPU can also execute more than one instruction in a single cycle (which is called superscalar). The CPU may also execute two distinct streams of instructions (hyperthreading). This also results in a single CPU core executing more than one instruction per cycle.

You also have to consider the speed of devices outside the CPU. The time taken for resolving a cache miss is independent of the CPU clock speed; it depends on the speed of the computer’s memory. The effect of memory performance will depend on the workload. If you are running something that doesn’t generate a lot of cache misses, you should go for a fast CPU and not worry about the memory. If you are generating random accesses to memory that tend to miss the cache, the opposite is true.

Presumably GCSE computing students don’t need to be told all this, but at least it will help you deal with the kid who tries to catch you out. :)

It’s funny how much this has changed since I did computing GCSE! At that time, common computers had one CPU core with no pipeline, no cache, and they drove the memory directly at the CPU clock speed.

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Actually, as a GCSE computing teacher, everything you said there I covered in my theory lessons. Some of it was aimed only at the more able students with a “this isn’t part of your exam, but as you’re interested” warning, but it was all mentioned. The OCR GCSE spec covers lots of potentially quite hard topics but mostly in superficial detail (for instance xor isn’t on it, but and/or/not is)

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they are both hz!…. the G and M is just to save you writing a lot of zero’s.

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I note that their current front page is running the survey “PC or Mac?”. Which one of those does my Pi fall under? :P

(I know, I know, it falls under “PC” in the generic sense; but a Mac is also a PC in the generic sense, so I think it safe to assume they mean windows/x86)

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“Which one of those does my Pi fall under? ”

dosn’t that depend which machine is under/over the pi when you drop it?

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Bravo. That’s all I can say. Just, Bravo.

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As someone half way through their GCSE computing course, I think this is brilliant. However, there i one vital flaw. Youtube is blocked at schools.

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That’s probably true of every school in the country. However I’m certain that it could be unblocked at certain times as requested by a teacher.

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No, it’s not feasible to unblock YouBoob in most schools because the available bandwidth can’t support it during class times. Some schools in my area are lucky to have a single 10 Mbps Internet connection for 800+ students in about 30 classrooms, plus a few dozen teachers and administrators using the network all day for higher-priority material and tasks.

YouBoob can’t be locally archived legally, which would be a huge improvement, but Google is apparently not willing to implement a download-allowed flag in content and players for things like educational material. It seems they’re not interested in the development cost, and also likely legal headaches if protected material was accidentally made available as download-enabled.

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Youtube is just a content delivery mechanism – I’m sure it’s not beyond the wit of the foundation/OCR to allow other ways of downloading them.

No development cost is required to download youtube content, a solution is already out there *technically*… has anyone checked out “freemake” yet (which downloads youtube videos for local playback) and whether this violates the conditions of use of YouTube?

I second the “can’t use youtube in schools” – most of the schools I work with also don’t allow twitter so the “OCR tweeting LED recipe” is impossible, and many (most actually) don’t allow kids to connect their Pi’s to the school internet, so doing updates is a bit of a nightmare.

Kids at our clubs hacked the wifi password out of the Pi in about 10 seconds, so the schools don’t allow the password out of their hands now as they don’t want all the kids phones connecting to the wifi. I see so many teachers using their personal mobile phone data plans as a way of enabling internet connected projects as a result of this.

It’s little things like this that make a great platform just slightly painful to roll out in a school environment.

P.S. Could someone who runs the raspberry pi forums make this comment box bigger, it’s like keyhole surgery here ;-)

@whaleygeek

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I know that everything is still in the early stages, but I hope the completed version will include subtitles.

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As it says in the text of the post, yes, text versions of everything will be available. There will also be audio versions of the printed material for blind students.

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Ah, I missed that. Thanks for that, good to know!

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What about translations? That way kids from non english speaking communities would also get access to the benefits of this material. Any way we can help on that topic?

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MITX OCW (open courseware) is in my mind one of the gold standards with online educational content.

https://6002x.mitx.mit.edu/

They have a really nice in-browser player that has full text annotation syncronised with the speech, and a X2 and /2 playback speed so you can whizz through it or slow it down a bit. Also you can click on any of the text paragraphs to jump to that bit of the lecture any time you like.

It’s very nice. There is a guest “try it out” on their website (link above) if you haven’t seen it.

@whaleygeek

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This is actually quite annoying! I have just finished my GCSE three weeks ago!

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I’m sure they won’t mind if you want to do it again.

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Well in the multiple choice both B and D are correct as CPS (cycles per second) is the old pre SI unit of frequency.

Mixing Si and Non SI units is probably not a good idea for an O level.

I trust this O level won’t be making the newbie mistake cisco make and call MIDI a presentation layer protocol when you touch upon the OSI model

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Did you watch the accompanying video? It’s very clear from the materials which is the correct answer – and you should remember that these kids are learning this stuff in the 21st century, so they are being asked to learn and use 21st century terminology. In the same way, and sticking with chemistry for my counterexample again, I don’t think kids who have learned in a modern classroom will be calling CO2 carbonic acid: they’ll be calling it carbon dioxide. KMnO4 isn’t known as Condy’s Crystals any more, and calling it that will probably get you marked down in an exam. (And don’t make the newbie mistake of calling a modern GCSE an O Level!)

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I hate to pick at this, but the single thing that put me off most about science teaching was the idea that an answer was technically correct, but “wrong” because it wasn’t the one specified in the teaching materials (or in one terrible case, technically unfeasible, but “right” because it was in the teaching materials). Your example (where the multiple choice answer is just “Cycles”) is fine (because cycles is dimensionally wrong for clock speed), but I find the responses worrying.

OK, so I’m the technical geek ahead of the rest of the class, that’s why I now have a masters in engineering. But do you really want me hacked off with the subject because I’m being told to parrot back something I know isn’t true in order to get a good mark? I’m not seeing that yet, but a couple of answers here suggest it’s expected, and I’m arguing it shouldn’t be. In the real world (where I now get to see A-level and sandwich course students at interview) it won’t wash, and it’s a very dangerous habit to get into. As for chemistry, probably explains why I dropped it after GCSE.

I have no problems with simplified models, they are essential, and probably need to be taught more (I can think of lots of undegraduates lost in the maths of the ebber-moll model who couldn’t get their amplifier to work because base and emitter were swapped…). But there is a way of presenting simplification which acknowledges this and respects the students, and there is the “Ha! fooled you” approach which various commentators have described. As a circuit designer, almost everything I do is done with ideal Op Amps and grossly simplified transistors, but that’s a choice – I know it isn’t the whole picture, and the simple description is a good enough description of what happens to do a job, without pretending that is explains how it happens (for which you need physics …), or that the results will be the whole picture. Most things work when I build them …

(disclaimer – I haven’t watched the videos, this is a response to the various comments here).

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“disclaimer – I haven’t watched the videos, this is a response to the various comments here”

Dick — you’ve made a whole lot of points for someone who hasn’t actually watched the videos and who is simply basing their arguments on other people’s comments! I’m sure that being “ahead of the rest of the class” and your master’s degree taught you that guesswork and anecdotes are no substitute for empirical evidence and primary research. Your straw men might be taken more seriously if you had actually bothered to look at what they have done as opposed to “parroting back” other people’s experiences.

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The OSI model is (currently) A-level Computing material. Please see my comments above regarding specification and audience.

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Neuromancer, you said:

Well in the multiple choice both B and D are correct as CPS (cycles per second) is the old pre SI unit of frequency

Since nobody has directly answered that, I will here. In fact, you are wrong as option D says “cycles” not “cycles per second”. They’re two different units! Just as option A (meters per second) is completely different to metres!
So, nothing wrong with the example question shown.

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Not exactly as back in the old days frequencies where quoted as kilocycles so the /s is obviously implied.

Just as engineers used to say so many “thou” no one added “of an inch” it was assumed

O levels are no place to potentially confuse kids by having ambiguous answers

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It’s not so much “used to”; I have the grave misfortune of having to hang out with a bunch of ASIC engineers and architects, and the thou is still their unit of choice. (Hi guys!)

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No, D is wrong. It says cycles, not cycles per second.
Read the question properly, then un-tick D

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Only 360p video? :(

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I don’t think that the fact that you can’t see Clive’s beard hairs individually detracts from the pedagogical impact. (I’m not sure, but I’m guessing that the quality is low so more videos can fit in a smaller space: if you’re a school in another country without internet trying to fit all the materials onto an SD card, that counts for a lot over 120 videos.)

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Very true Liz and as other comments here point out even UK schools are bandwidth constrained. Consider 30 kids each streaming 1080p from a wireless access point even if the content is cached on a local server.

I don’t want to upset anyone, but you need to think outside the 16 meg download you have at home and the purchasing ability you have for a one off purchase. divide your bandwidth by 100 and multiply your purchase by 100 and you get an idea of the issues(these are conservative figures). 360p may not be the best available quality but it is the most “affordable” for the target market(as many as possible) and as Liz points out SD card sizes are an additional constraint KA Lite just fits on a 64gb SD at 360p

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This is very cool, on the subject of KH Lite, would you be integrating this within the KH Lite server or would you have your own framework? Apart from my own selfish reasons of it being easier to support if it was integrated with KH Lite, the KH Lite ‘coach reports’ are a useful tool for teachers. I know, you come up with this fantastic project and all you get asked is, can you just do this or this is not right… However you did name the mascot Babbage, asking for trouble, potato peeling machine etc.

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The potato peeler quote is one of my favourite bits of speechifying ever. As for KA Lite – don’t know, right now. It’s early days.

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This looks like a fantastic resource, however my students will not be able to use the videos in school as they have no access to youtube (it is, for obvious reasons, filtered). Is there any way you could put the videos somewhere else?

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great, made myself look like an idiot on the internet again…. i see not all of the videos are on youtube.

Sorry!

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Does YouTube now work properly on the Pi? It’s still driven by flash here. It would be ironic if people browsing this on their Pi had to use youtube-dl on each video in order to watch them …

As regards resolution, youtube automatically produce reduced resolution versions if a higher quality master is uploaded (on a projector full screen, you get some big pixels …). I’m sure they aren’t _producing_ in 360p! On the other hand, Youtube feels like a temporary/secondary not a primary distribution mechanism for the site.

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Does OCR have a secret French translation team that are about to deliver a French open source version too?

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This is a wonderful start. It is good to see such professionalism and money devoted to making educational videos. These videos add many layers of sugar coating while at the same time move very quickly. In these aspects they are the opposite of the Khan Academy videos.

The blender lecture hides the fact that a computer program is the most interesting type of data and misses the obvious analogy between a computer program and a recipe used while cooking. An introductory cooking class will focus on reading and following a recipe. Many 14-to-16-year-old children already help in the kitchen and understand the importance of a recipe. A lecture should be both entertaining and interesting, but there are better ways to entertain than by stupidly making a smoothy using random ingredients and drinking it. Computer science does not become more interesting if it is simplified so much it is no longer useful.

Please start with reading and writing computer programs. After the elementary literacy needed to read and write simple computer programs has been developed, then it make sense to give that quiz about what RAM and ROM stands for and how far light travels in one cycle of a 2GHz CPU. Similarly, flow charts and pseudo code make much more sense after some elementary code examples have been written and executed on a real computer by the student.

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Hi Eric — you have some great ideas. Please have a look at the GCSE specification and if you think that you can help with writing scripts or resources for the next 116 topics (including reading and writing computer programs) then please get in touch. (Though do be careful not to conflate several large parts of the course — such as algorithms and coding — with a simple model a of computer system.)

N.B. The speed of light is not in the specification so will never be tested. It’s one teacher’s way of showing how fast computers are (thanks Grace! :))

Thanks for the feedback!

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I have my own experiment to make:

*Points at Clive* STUPID. STUPID STUPID STUPID.

Nope. It’s not making me feel bigger or cleverer, and I don’t think it’s enhancing any point I’m trying to make. Ho hum. Back to the drawing board.

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Liz, Your point is well taken that my post could be improved by removing the word stupid. I did not mean to call anyone names.

While using random ingredients in a smoothy is probably the most entertaining and memorable part of the lecture, for me the most important idea about computers is that they follow a written computer program to determine what and how inputs are used to create an output. Perhaps this video sets the stage for exactly that point.

I am very enthusiastic about these lectures and how they can help with teaching computer science at this level. It will be wonderful when the project materials get more fully fleshed out.

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Given that so many institutions are putting freely-accessible course content Out There (e.g., MIT’s EDx initiative to put the entire university’s curricula for all its colleges and schools on-line, starting with the computer science department), it would be fantastic to know what the creators of this effort considered as inspirational models at other institutions, and which things seemed to be things to be avoided.

I will second the comment about Khan Academy’s automatic assessment-tracking tools being nothing short of brilliant. One of the biggest changes in teaching ever has been the transition from summative assessment (grades assigned only a few times during a course based on major exams) to formative assessment (grades are assigned based on every single student interaction, not just exam questions). The continuous feedback based on differentiated instruction (e.g., based on variations on multiple intelligences theory) and event-by-event assessments provides the ability for educators and parents to see precisely what each student has mastered and what kind of instruction they respond to best at any point in time. This provides a means to improve a student’s performance immediately by spending more time on a problematic topic to conduct more concentrated teaching and learning. With an automated system such as KA’s, instructional material can be presented at the student’s pace and in manners that are most effective for each of them more readily.

I’ll be comparing what’s being done in this effort with as many others as I can track and will provide cross-pollination to help all of these programs in a kaizen (continuous improvement) mode as championed by Deming and implemented in Japanese auto manufacturing starting in the 1970s, which is now practiced worldwide to varying degrees.

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Migh need re-packaging in future if GCSEs get scraped/modified by Gove.

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Re: GSCEblogJun.doc

Getting started with computer engineering for beginners of any age has to start with conceptual understanding. A semantic debate by folks with experience, while fun, is irrelevant if your audience consists mostly of the uninitiated. In every technical field terms and their meanings change and evolve so I say do what works. When you get feedback from your target audience you will know if terms need to be fine tuned.
Hats off to all of you involved in this project. I’m hoping to introduce it to the local school district. The fact that they just became partners with the New Mexico public space endeavor makes me optimistic.

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The questions/answers are so confusing and inconsistent, its extremely worrying:

“What is a clock speed of a computer measured in?”
Well that depends:
– what part of the computer, FPU/Math which could equate to cycles, or, CPU/RAM which is hertz?
– In the second question you reference CPU as the item, why not here?

A better example:
“What is a clock speed of a CPU (Central Processing unit) measured in?”
– Meters/Kilometers per second
– Mega/Giga hertz
– Amps/Volts

The second question is simply unclear, bad grammar and confusing to read:

“In the table below, tick one box in each row to show whether each of the following is an advantage or disadvantage of overclocking a CPU”

– “the CPU uses more power”, is actually an advantage in overclocking to improve stability.
If “energy efficiency” was in the question itself, then disadvantage would be correct.

A better question would be:
“An energy efficient company is attempting to overclock their CPU. Use the table below to select if each item is an advantage, or, disadvantage”.

Honestly, this is one of the reasons i hated school all those years ago. Questions which are inconsistent, lack structure and formality.

Iam now a C++ programmer and a IT systems engineer. What your doing is great, but, these questions and answers need revising by someone who puts a little more thought into it.

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I personally think it’s a very credible thing that Clive and the foundation are trying to do here with the development of these resources for GCSE, and having OCR on side is good too.

But it’s quite a big feat to get all these resources together in time, it’s not going to be perfect (no engineering solution is perfect), and it’s going to need some refinement along the way. Throwing stones is not going to help. Constructive feedback and getting involved will help.

What is clear to me from some of the resources I have seen (and used) over the last few months, is that teachers need resources that just work, are relevant, well supported, and have no surprises.

One of the biggest failings of creating relevant, well supported resources with no surprises is the right type of review process – a process that is not too cumbersome, produces good results, and works quickly. Every person for themselves is just not going to work, it’s just going to slow everything down.

Clearly there is a huge community out there of professionals, makers, hobbyists, students, teachers, all with their own perspectives and many of them willing and able to contribute in many ways.

Can I make a call to that community to “be professional” and do what you can to help the foundation in the way that works best for the end goal – don’t slow them down. Roll your sleeves up, get involved, help where help is needed and welcomed.

At the end of the day, all they are trying to do is to support the teachers teaching computing, and to enable those teachers to teach the up and coming generation of engineers and scientists.

Soon the future of our profession will be in the hands of todays kids – lets do what we can to make that a great future.

I have no specific involvement with the foundation. I’m just a user of their technology and resources. But I see the pain that many of todays teachers are going through getting up the curve on the new curriculum and I really feel for them. Myself, I’ve rolled my sleeves up, dug in, and am trying to do what little I can to help.

@whaleygeek

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Thanks Whaleygeek — you get it. The Foundation is working hard to produce usable, interesting and rigorous teaching and learning resources and to support teachers in the switch to a computing rich curriculum (the online course is just one thing that we are involved with).

Your advice to ” Roll your sleeves up, get involved” is spot on, and of course there are many avenues to do this — not just through the Foundation — but organisations like Computing at School, STEM Ambassadors, Code Club, Coder Dojo, Young Rewired State etc or just helping once a week at your local school.

***N.B. I would like to point out that I am *only* in the preview videos because I was the nearest available (ex)teacher! The remaining videos will feature a wide range of teachers and educators and you will not have to sit through any more of me. I promise :) ***

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you will not have to sit through any more of me. I promise

Awwww :-(

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I’d like to look at the videos but it seems the website is blocked by our web sanitizer as containing “potentially damaging content”.

It’s good to see the education efforts ramping up. As always, the devil is in the detail, and the nice thing about online learning is that you’re not so constrained by the time limits of a classroom so you can afford some luxury of teaching to a bit more depth. For example, start with clocks as little slabs of piezo crystal (open up a cheap crystal earpiece and show the little Rochelle salt crystal), oscillating so many cycles per second, then onto Heinrich Hertz, and then introduce SI units kilo, mega, giga, leading to MHz and GHz. I don’t know if that would tie in to the physics GCSE, and maybe they don’t teach powers of ten in maths classes these days?

Oh, and carbonic acid is H2CO3 – it ain’t no acid unless its got some protons (H+) to give away.

Neil

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Great to see the Foundation “going back to their roots” and fulfilling their main goal: teaching kids about programming. A few points if I may:

* GCSE is a method hardly used outside the UK. I hope the Foundation will find the time, and finances, to integrate the program with what’s locally available and required to the student so (s)he can obtain locally available qualifications.

* Given the proliferation of optical media and it’s low cost, it would be wise to consider making the video’s available as download (DVD ISO) as well as pre-burned DVD sets, ideally with all video’s covering a specific topic per DVD. Video’s may cover more then a single topic, I see no problem in having multiple instances of this video on multiple disks: DVD’s are cheap.

* Include instructions on how to set up a separate LAN for showing these video’s, so that their use doesn’t eat bandwidth the educational institution doesn’t have. Content streaming from a NAS, for instance.

* Someone mentioned the youtube-dl tool to extract video from this medium. Having used it myself, I can recommend it: first, it’s a Python program and second, it’s already in the Debian repo!

* English is the language of choice for computer programming, but it’s not used natively in large parts of the world. Translations are required, unless you want to turn the computer course into a crash-course in English too ;-) Spanish and Portugese cover most of Central and South America, French is widely used in parts of Africa, and then there’s Hindi, several African and Asian languages and dialects and of course Chinese. Good luck ;-)

I hope the program will be a success, most likely I’ll be having a look at it when it’s acquired a stable status. :-)

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Having followed your blogs from inception and aware of the great things being done I have some concerns on the approach to the education piece.

(1) If the aim is to inspire young people to enjoy programming and being creative, why define it around the achievement of a GCSE. When I mentioned this to my son, who is 13, he couldn’t be less interested.

(2) As programming is one of the main aims why reinvent the wheel. Python is installed as the main educational so use something like Udacity as a kickstarter. For example https://www.udacity.com/course/cs101 then onto Web development or testing or even the logic behind the self driving car. Yes utilise the pi as an integral part of the process but don’t forget to embrace other available solutions

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It’s hard for me not to respond to that with heavy sarcasm, given how many people have been working themselves to death on our educational offering. I am trying my best.

Of course GCSE is not the only area of the syllabus we’re working on. It is the first we’re *publicising*, though. And if you think we haven’t been very busy inspiring young people to enjoy programming and being creative – well, I don’t think you’ve been following this blog very carefully at all. Just this week, Clive’s running hours and hours of CPD for teachers; we’re attending Technocamps Wales; we’re talking to and helping about a bajillion schools; and we’re running the Google Pi project. The community’s doing lots of work too.

If you’re worried about education, so should you. Get involved. Volunteer.

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That’s like seeing a Public Information film on TV one day about learning to swim and saying, “Why is the government only interested in swimming? My son finds swimming boring. Why not do free diving? Or golf?”

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If you want something a bit more advanced than GCSE-level, why not have a look at http://www.raspberrypi.org/archives/1913

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