New Courses – Your thoughts

  • chalove
    Keymaster

    So, what do you think of the new courses? What do you like? What do you not like? What do you see as the challenges and the needs for the subject now that we have the detail of what we will be teaching in 1 years time!

    Richard Scott
    Participant

    1 year! –  I have to start this in a few weeks.

     

    Our S3 and S4 are only getting 3 periods of Computing each year, so I have no choice but to start the courses in S3. So I am busy piecing together a Frankenstein course for 11th June. That is my CHALLENGE!

     

    btw

    I LIKE the core topics of programming and databases

    I WISH there was more on multimedia

    I DISLIKE the juxtaposition of the Systems content throughout

    I have previously expressed NIGGLES with the exact unit content – some content being artificially hard and other content nowhere near the required depth.

     

    IMHO I still think there is room for, and would be demand for, 3 separate courses in Computing and that we shouldn’t take from the poor past experience if C & IS that there would not be – the content was all wrong. (Applications, Arts and Technical based Computing courses)

     

    Yeah – 1 year? I wish!

     

    Richard

    jennifer5
    Participant

    We are also starting the courses in August and we are just hampered by SM not making decisions quickly enough!  Our pupils are choosing courses at the end of S1 and S2 – so basically I have no idea what I will be teaching to either year group!

     

    The course content seems a bit more uptodate, but I think it could have been even more upto date.  I agree that there should be at least two seperate courses, not them joined together.

    Robert Young
    Participant

    Interesting to hear that some schools are still thinking of doing the courses over two years.  Certainly we have been given a letter from our Director of Education and Lifelong Learning where Dr Bill Maxwell suggests that any schools which do this will not be looked at in a good manner.  In fact the letter is suggesting that the Director clamps down hard on any school which is even thinking about doing this.

     

     

    Darren Brown
    Participant

    The new courses seem to have overall less theory which I am happy about.  There is a lot of talk of bi-level teaching and teacher’s responsibility to make sure different levels do not have repitition.  I am still seeing a situation where I may be asked to run one S4-6 class N4/5/Higher if I want to run Games Development and other units.  I think there is even more workload (including own unit assessments and a lot of own verification) being put on teachers.  Differentation and having 20+ pupils all working in different environments and projects would be nice but in reality……

     

    The Systems theory really seems shoe horned in wherever it could be put.  Both units are basically developing and programming – the part of the course the pupils struggle to get to grips with the most?  Seeing pupils actually loving programming is great but I find the majority are turned off because it is too hard – they need to start developing and programming as early as possible (primary?).  CfE is not helping me with this as I don’t get any pupils until S3 where I will only start Scratch/AppInventor – I feel most pupils will still be gauged on N5 results in S4.

     

    We have had strong wording from government and authority about Broad General Education until S3 before National courses should start as choices S4.  Of course a year is not enough to cover all of N5 so I am looking at building theory into my S3 as much as possible (I could get an able pupil in S4 who has done no Computing/ICT previously!).  Despite the warnings I can say the majority of schools I have heard from are still going for an S3/4 doing N4/5 immediately – what can Mike Russell do to them really?

    tracy_m
    Participant

    Our kids have picked course choices in S2 for S3/4. So we will be teaching this (N4) when the timetable changes in a few weeks. Our school is aware of the letter and information about a broad general education for all till end of S3 but going ahead with the original plans anyway…

    Sean Stratton
    Participant

    Our courses were picked at the end of S2 and we go with a cohort in S3/4 from August. We are proposing to target level 4 E&Os and if we happen to pick up a few pieces of evidence and knowledge for N4/5 along the way, then surely they (Education Scotland / HMIe) can’t complain.

     

    Now is it just me or is there NO mention of how long the course is expected to take in the course or unit specs?

     

    @dbrown we have to teach them two separate programming languages as per LO3 of SDD (N5), surely Scratch and Appinventor are too similar to allow a good comparison. we were thinking along the lines of Scratch / VB

     

     

    Darren Brown
    Participant

    I would see AppInventor/Scratch more N4.  N5 may need to more complex – the materials on Education Scotland move onto SmallBasic after Scratch for N5.  As an authority we are trying to get a region wide license for LiveCode for more advanced App development.

    Sean Stratton
    Participant

    Thanks missed the education Scotland materials, TBH I still can’t find the link to the documents without searching for them. So if someone could send me a screen shot that would be great 🙂

     

    Here is what I found 

     

    Sean

    Darren Brown
    Participant

    http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/nationalqualifications/subjects/computing.asp

     

    The link to the new materials is under “Computing Science”

    George Mullin
    Participant

    I think there is far more to Computing Science than programming, and in our haste to incorporate more software development in our new courses, we have gone too far. Lots of kids find programming too difficult, but at least one positive thing we could say about the Standard Grade course is that it was accessible to a wide range of ability levels – you could still achieve a good grade without being a great programmer.

     

    What happens to these kids now?

     

    I think we are in danger of having to rename the course again – we may as well call it “programming” when there is so much more to Computing Science. I posted a while back about my dismay that AI seems to be all but absent from the new courses – not even an option – when it is one of the most interesting parts of CS:

     

    http://www.compednet.com/groups/curriculum-for-excellence/forum/topic/national-45-and-higher-course-content-and-names/

     

    DCullen
    Participant

    I’d have to agree with George there on AI. I teach AI at both Int2 and Higher as the optional unit. For the pupils and personally for me it’s definetly the most interesting of the three units.

    Sean Stratton
    Participant

    We have kinda thrown the baby out with the bath water. Computing can be quite a dry subject at times and AI and a lot of the elements of standard grade helped to keep it grounded.

     

    I know all about IRQs and Null modems by trial and error with early multi player games. I learned about Baud, Parity & GIFs so I could send email using a modem to a BBS. Think of the tasks and concepts the new course has as a list of things to get covered and it’s dull. However, can we not teach “expressions to return values using arithmetic operations (+, -, *, /, ^)” as score, lives, bonuses and multipliers in games? We risk getting bogged down in the syntax when we should be pushing forward with the ideals. I wish at times we would get back to the old definition of the word hacking. To me, computers are all about making things easier. Robotics and GPPs show that. With programming its hard to get that concept across in a way pupils understand, the rewards appear to be dwarfed by the step learning curve. Challenges, projects and websites like instructables are a great way to learn.

     

    Can you imagine a course where all year we prepared them to face a day long creative assessment and that was the basis for a qualification. So the task “make a robot that makes tea”, could be N3-5 with the final award being given by how complicated and involved the final product was. EG a picture and a powerpoint would get them a N3, use of code and a scratch demo a N4 and Lego Mindstorms working prototype N5.

     

    As a realist though I recognise that these courses come with exams and as such we must teach the course content so we can be compared against each other in the league tables. I fear the assessment of the course will not change sufficiently to meet CfEs lofty goals.

     

    Anyway this rambling post is just so I don’t need to get my reports finished, so its back to secure, developing and consolidating rather than “you should see the cool robot they made”.

     

    brendanm
    Participant

    I’d like to support the comments about AI. The topic area helps make compelling connections to so many other areas of the curriculum. Robotics alone is fast entering the consumer arena.

     

    I am wondering if there was a considered rationale for omitting AI or was there just no room left?

     

    Since the course is now called Computing Science yet has no AI, does it really deliver “what it says on the tin”?

    brendanm
    Participant

    Just picking through LO1 for N5 software development and design and following up on Richard’s comment (also dbrown) about the relationship of software with hardware; what is the learning intention of relating a HLL statement to LLM operations and structures? Surely the whole point of high level languages is to abstract the virtual machine that executes code and hide the low level machine. It is the resultant machine code which executes on the hardware, quite a different model in terms of objects and operations. Then a fuller explanation may require an appreciation of the nature of machine code instructions. This is perhaps an inelegant linking of software development to a  snap-shot of computer architecture order to explain how programs work and misdirects a pupil’s fundamental understanding of what a computer system is and does.

    As teachers I think we need a “big-picture” model of our computing science course that has an underlying integrity of ideas and concepts, (for example “low level operations” are mentioned but not identified). That way we can offer our young developers guidance that has breadth and solid depth. Computer architecture is proper to a computing science course and worthy of respectful study.

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