Monday, 5 November 2012

Computing At School

I've been on annual leave for the past week, but on the Saturday after I stopped I attended the first meeting of the Computing At School (CAS) group, held in the Microsoft offices in Edinburgh. This new group is designed to promote the subject of Computing within Scottish schools. There was a fantastic turn-out at the event, with a long waiting list of people who could not be given a place.

The keynote was given by Muffy Calder, the Chief Scientific Officer for Scotland, who gave an interesting talk on the importance of computer science to Scotland and specifically about the concept of "computational thinking". The second keynote was given by Quintin Cutts, of Glasgow University, who spoke about "programming pedagogy", which explored the best way to teach programming skills. He argued, convincingly in my view, that we ask too much of students too soon and need to build their programming knowledge and skills more slowly.

The rest of the day was divided into a number of workshops and seminars, one of which was my own seminar about the vocational Computing awards available to schools. I was up against some stiff competition in my time slot so I was delighted that a large number of teachers chose to attend.

My talk promoted the range of vocational Computing qualifications available to Scottish schools, such as the awards in computer games, mobile technology and Internet safety.

It seemed to be well received. There appeared to be genuine interest in using these awards to broaden and enrich the school curriculum, alongside "traditional" qualifications.

It was a good day. There seems to be a lot of interest and support for this new group, including sponsorship from the likes of Google and Microsoft.

Contact Kate Farrell if you want to know more about Computing At School. Contact Hilary if you want to know more about vocational awards in schools.

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