Category: From our Community

INSPIRING DIGITAL ENTERPRISE AWARDS AT GROVE ACADEMY

iDEA Awards, Grove Academy

Gavin Pyott, PT Computing Science

I became aware of the iDEA awards by chance when it was first launched 3 years ago. I can’t explain how glad I am that I did. The programme is so well written and produced that all learners are drawn into the modules and are keen to do more. Due to the positive impact iDEA had with classes in my department l began promoting the awards and encouraging others to use it within their schools. As a result of this l was awarded the title of Teacher Ambassador from iDEA.  

The Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award, known as iDEA, is an international programme that helps students develop and demonstrate digital, enterprise and employability skills.

Since its launch, iDEA has established itself as the digital equivalent of The Duke of Edinburgh Award. The iDEA awards are recognised by universities and employers so are a great addition to any student’s CV.

The iDEA awards allow students to map their knowledge and understanding of the digital world through a series of modules (badges).

The badges have been designed to unlock new opportunities and raise awareness of the diverse range of careers in our digital world, all the while allowing students to gain an industry recognised award to help them stand out from the crowd.

To achieve a Bronze Award, students need to earn a minimum of 250 points, including at least 40 points in each of the core categories of the curriculum: Citizen, Worker, Maker and Entrepreneur.

CITIZEN BADGES cover digital awareness, safety and ethics.

WORKER BADGES introduce tools and techniques which are useful in the digital workplace.

MAKER BADGES cover digital creativity and building and making in the digital world.

ENTREPRENEUR BADGES explain how to originate ideas and bring them to life.

GAMER BADGES investigate gamification techniques and help people learn how to make games.

These badges are all very informative and explain complex concepts in a straightforward, easy to understand, way. All badges are designed to be interactive, allowing pupils to answer questions as they go, building up their knowledge step-by-step.

To help track student progress iDEA have launched ‘organiser codes’ and the organiser area. This allows you to provide pupils with a simple code to add to their iDEA profiles. This will then pull the progress charts for each pupil together into a handy, easy to use spreadsheet.

After completing the Bronze award, many pupils volunteer to move on to the Silver. Unlike Bronze, the Silver award has been written as a series of topics. Each topic is story-based with students being guided through a real-life scenario as they discover the skills required to progress.

Due to the amazing quality and excellent writing in the badges in the programme the target audience range has really been opened up. I have successfully delivered the iDEA award in S1, S2 and S3. We now have pupils is S4-6 who are also tapping into the programme as it has caught their attention. iDEA also works great in an upper primary setting. My own daughter liked the look of the badges and had a go herself. She successfully completed the Bronze award in Primary 6 and completed her Silver when in Primary 7. Not wanting to stop there she completed a total of 50 Bronze badges to become ‘Badge Champion’ and completed the remaining Silver topic to become a

‘Silver Star’. This determination to complete the modules has been replicated by students in my classes who applied the Pokemon ‘got to get them all’ approach to the badges and awards. I have to admit, I have done this too! The iDEA badges are so interesting and informative I found I couldn’t stop either! As an introduction to a new concept (block chain) or to brush up existing skills the iDEA Award is great CLPL for staff too.

Mr Pyott has created a Sway which will give you a full introduction to the work and process involved in using iDEA and his top tips. To view click here.

To see more from Mr Pyott you can visit his Twitter feed on @MrPyott

To see more from Grove Academy, please visit their Twitter feed on @Grove_Academy

You can find out more on iDEA Awards via https://idea.org.uk/ 

CREATIVE COMPUTING SCIENCE AT STEWARTON ACADEMY

Fraser McKay, Computing Teacher at Stewarton Academy takes some time to talk about Computing Science delivery in the school.  Fraser discusses gender balance, escape rooms and physical computing among other topics,  We also hear from students in S2 and S5 about their experiences. in the course of these 3 videos.

Stewarton Academy is in East Ayrshire.

https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/ea/stewartonacademysite2016/

 

TEACHERS’ REFLECTIONS ON ADDITIONAL TEACHING QUALIFICATION IN COMPUTING

Jonathan Henderson, Lasswade Primary School, Midlothian, @MrHenderson321
Emma Hedges, Victoria Primary School, Falkirk, @MissHedgesVPS

We are delighted to be part of the first cohort of a new program of CLPL aimed at up-levelling primary teachers’ skills in delivering the Technologies curriculum. This online program leverages some of the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI)’s existing courses for cross-qualifying existing secondary teachers into Computer Science but provides primary teachers with the expertise necessary to deliver the computing curriculum up to SCQF Level 3. This course has been designed and supported by the British Computer Society, Microsoft, Education Scotland and the Scottish Government.

Currently, we are in Week 4 of the first 12 week module on Databases and Computer Systems, with a second module planned to start in September which will focus on Coding and Web Technologies. So far we have learned about Software, Hardware, Numbering Systems and Logic Gates, and we will soon be moving onto learning about databases and SQL. The work for each week is split up into sections which has contributed to making the course manageable to fit in around a full time teaching job. Each week has involved gaining new knowledge via videos and Sways. There have also been interactive elements such as mini quizzes and using what we have learned to complete tasks such as calculations involving binary numbers. There has been a feeling of satisfaction when we have been able to use our new found knowledge, or from learning from our mistakes, to complete these tasks.

We have also been given the opportunity to complete an additional entry-level Cisco course about Linux which many participants have signed up to complete.

So far, it has been fascinating to go further into subjects which are beyond the normal scope of the primary curriculum and refresh and update our understanding of computing. Through being provided with this opportunity we are once again in the role of the learner. This has been an interesting experience and has made us consider the different ways in which we can share what we are learning to the wide range of needs of our learners, as well as with our colleagues.

We are also enjoying the opportunity to network with colleagues from across Scotland as well as across primary and secondary education. It has been interesting to learn about the different backgrounds of our colleagues who are also enrolled on the course and to be able to interact with them online either on the UHI learning space or on Twitter. With the submission date of our first assessment approaching, we’re very much focussed on doing our best in order to get the most out of the course both for ourselves and for our pupils.

Find out more about the qualification here

REMOVING BARRIERS TO LEARNING COMPUTING SCIENCE AT SPEYSIDE HIGH SCHOOL

As a teacher of Computer Science I’ve always looked for ways to remove barriers to learning and make the curriculum more accessible. One of the biggest hurdles to this has been the complex nature of managing the installation and use of IDEs (Integrated Development Environments) to teach computer programming. Without a burning passion for the subject, you can forget getting a young person to download something like Microsoft Visual Studio or Eclipse at home.

A few years ago, whilst looking for a solution to my concerns I switched to repl.it to teach computer programming with the language Python. Repl.it is an online development environment which is completely browser based and requires no software installations on the user’s device. It is device and operating system agnostic, so it will work on desktops, laptops, mobile and tablet devices.

An example of the repl.it programming interface (Python 3.8)

An example of the repl.it programming interface (Python 3.8)

Over this period, I have transitioned from using repl.it to teach software design, to using repl.it to teach all practical elements of the course with support for creating rich web content using HTML, CSS and JavaScript and interrogating databases using SQLite. Students can easily share these projects with each other and with me. There are even tools to allow students to work together on the same project, allowing for latency free peer programming through repl.it’s “multiplayer” feature.

Repl.it provides tools for assessment, through their Assignments tool which provides the student with a set of instructions, a pre-populated piece of code as a starting point and a console window. The student can then submit the assignment to the teacher for written feedback and receives a notification when this is sent to them. Repl.it assignments also allow for test conditions to be set to provide some level of instant feedback to the student.

 

 

An example of an assignment in Repl.it showing student code, instructions, console and feedback area.

This has enabled my students and I to make a smooth transition from classroom teaching to remote learning for National 5 and Higher Computing Science during the COVID-19 lockdown. Although using online tools for home learning has always been a part of my pedagogical practice at this school, I’ve adapted my methods slightly. At Speyside High School, learners are currently using a combination of Google Classroom, Scholar, repl.it and YouTube videos that I have created to begin their new Senior Phase courses.

To create learning materials, I am using OBS Studio to capture my screen and webcam, which means I am then able to explain concepts to the students as if I was teaching a class and seamlessly flip between my course material and my live coding environment on repl.it.

The tools mentioned in this blogpost are all free to use for teachers.

Repl.it can be found at www.repl.it
OBS Studio can be found at www.obsproject.com


Marc McWhirter
PT Computing & Technical / Speyside High School
@SpeysideCS

Speyside High @speysiderector


 

BEBRAS COMPUTATIONAL THINKING CHALLENGE AT PORTLETHEN ACADEMY

post by Ian Simpson (@familysimpson), Faculty Head of ICT at Portlethen Academy (@portyacad)

What is the Bebras Computing Challenge?

The Bebras Computing Challenge is a long-running international competition which promotes the importance of computational thinking and problem solving skills in a wider world context. It is organised in over 50 countries and designed to get students aged 6 to 18 from all over the world excited about computing.

Students have to employ a variety of problem-solving strategies in order to complete up to 18 challenges in the allotted time. High scoring students may be lucky enough to qualify for a celebration event which, in previous years, has taken place at Hertford College, Oxford.

Why we entered the competition

At Portlethen Academy all S1-3 students take part in the competition, with those in senior phase given the chance to participate as part of their Computing Science or Mathematics classes. Every individual who takes part receives a digital certificate from the University of Oxford which can be printed out in school or at home and those who achieve scores in the top 25% of the cohort are invited to take part in the TCSOCC Challenge in February as recognition of their strong computational thinking skills and to increase their exposure to computer programming problems.

Faculty Head of ICT Ian Simpson has coached groups of students to take part in the Bebras Computing Challenge since 2013. “To get the best out of the groups it shouldn’t be an add on or break from ‘normal lessons’, it is in the school’s best interest to embed teaching of computational thinking skills and prepare for the challenge using the practice challenges or the Perfect Day app.”

What pupils learnt from it

Seven students from S1 and 2 scored highly enough in the 2019 challenge to receive an invitation to the celebration event at Hertford College in January 2020. Thanks to support from contacts at Total and Aberdeenshire DYW six were able to travel to Oxford to take part in the final round, experience Computing Science sample lectures and find out more about life as a student at the University of Oxford. Ian Simpson added “This was the first time that such a high number of students from a state school in Aberdeenshire had qualified for the final round. It was a surprise in some ways but testament to the hard work the students put in preparing for the challenge.”

As well as giving students the chance to think creatively and apply their knowledge from across a variety of subject areas the Bebras Computing Challenge helps build student resilience. These skills have increasing demand in further and higher education and will serve them well in the workplace of the future. Taking part in the final round also gave the students increased confidence in their own abilities and, on the drive back to Heathrow, many were sharing strategies they had learned from other participants to improve on their scores next year.

Sign up for Bebras here.

 

Our Lockdown Journey as ESO for Digital Learning

By Meg Brough and Dave Keenan

In January 2020 we gained the title ‘Education Support Officers for Digital Learning.’ After interview, it was decided we would job share for the duration of our secondment opportunity. We would each be allocated 2 days a week: one together, one independently. (Dave is PT Modern Studies and Meg teaches English and Media). This was totally manageable, right?

We sat with the previous Digital ESO Jenni for days, our heads spinning with new information about Computing Science, Computational Thinking, 3D Printing, Glow security and CRIS. We would be covering Jenni’s role when she moved to Education Scotland and were determined to learn as much as possible from her and keep continuity. “You have to make this job your own,” she said. Oh, how little we knew!

We began to support schools in Dundee, working with them to embed a robust digital infrastructure in schools and throughout the Authority. We developed a calendar of CLPL opportunities, attending meetings and enjoying the best part of the job – meeting new people. By the end of February we were steadily gaining confidence and making great contacts.

In March 2020, the schools closed and every practitioner in Scotland had to switch to engaging with Digital Learning. Our job started to creep into every aspect of our lives. The question of whether we were ready for this was irrelevant. It was imperative to provide our practitioners with the skills needed to continue to provide a high standard of education for our children and young people.
We had a few weeks to prepare for the impending closure, so we finished small jobs we had started and then moved on to creating help sheets and resources. Meg worked on creating the Dundee City Council Online Learning Hub. We didn’t want to restrict our support to staff, but to provide a central location to support pupils and parents too. This site would house Learning Resources, Information about Online Safety and Help with digital tools such as Glow. The website has been separated into sections for Staff, Pupils and Parents, and each houses information and links relevant to each kind of user.

We quickly realised that the volume of queries and support required couldn’t be managed by email alone. Dave had the idea of setting up the DCC Education Digital Support Team and adding every teacher in Dundee. No easy task! This was an area we could store our help sheets and answer any queries.

This grew arms, legs and many other limbs. So much so that the practitioners who were supporting us with Learning Resources had to split off into a separate support team. We worked with DCC’s amazing Pedagogy team to create a site where staff could access CLPL Opportunities and Learning Resources, which left the purpose of our Team purely for digital support. Since the creation of the team on the 6th March, we have had 1,268 active users leaving 258 posts. What is more impressive though, is that from those posts we have had 591 replies. This demonstrates a pattern we have noticed. We, as owners, are not the only people who are answering queries. By starting this support group we have upskilled staff to be able to answer each other’s questions. This fits in very well with our vision to promote Digital Leadership throughout the Authority.

We often see a peak in engagement within our Team when we host our Webinars. We have hosted a few webinars which have focused on setting up online classes, setting and marking assignments in Teams… the list goes on! Along with our own home-made efforts, we have hosted hundreds of staff in webinars with Ian Stuart from Microsoft and this is helping us build our MIE base across schools.

Staff uptake of MIE CLPL is really taking off and school managers are looking at how to take everything to the next level with Digital Schools, Microsoft Schools and Incubator status.We have also created a YouTube channel to house our tutorial videos. Reflecting on the help sheets we had originally made, we found it much easier to demonstrate how to use a digital tool by sending a link to a video. We were so fortunate that the Accessibility and Inclusion service provided us with videos which have been translated into Arabic. Our most popular video has been a guide to using Microsoft Teams Assignments and Immersive reader through Glow for pupils. Teachers have been sharing this with their pupils and have found it useful to see what their pupils are seeing.

The May Inservice day was planned to focus on Supporting Learners with Additional Support Needs. Our original plan was to deliver training to our Digital Leaders and in turn they would deliver this to their own school staff on the Inservice day. This was going to be a perfect example of the ‘Train the Trainer’ model we wish to develop. Our Digital Leaders are representatives from each school who have a vested interest in Digital Learning and who want to work with their colleagues to embed Digital Learning as a key component of the curriculum. As all events on our CLPL calendar had to be cancelled, we had to re-evaluate how to provide this kind of training. Instead used this situation to our advantage and tried to reach a wider audience by creating a presentation of all kinds of digital tools that could be used to support learners with ASN. In our Staff version we included links to training guides (such as the Microsoft Educator Centre) as well as information about how to use these in the classroom.

In our general guide we also included information about how these tools can be used at home to help parents and learners. We included information about Accessibility Tools on iPads, as well as Microsoft and Google products. We also plugged CALL Scotland who are fabulous at providing advice on these kinds of products. We had an extremely positive response towards this, particularly from members of the ‘Supporting Learners’ Microsoft Team which we have supported the Accessibility and Inclusion Service to set up. The effort from the AIS Team is just one example of the impressive work we have seen practitioners take on in order to up-skill themselves to provide the best support possible for our young people.

Unsurprisingly, we have seen the number of Digital Leaders across the authority rise as more staff realise the value and exciting opportunities involved with Digital Learning. We have set up a new Team for Digital Leaders who will be offered many training opportunities to support their schools in their Digital journey. We had aimed to work with select schools to achieve a Digital School’s Award and embed a digital infrastructure. We imagine that many of our schools, if they continue to engage with these digital tools, will be more than deserving of a Digital Schools award. A large part of achieving this is teaching Cyber Resilience and Internet Safety as a standard part of the curriculum. The first remote training opportunity our Digital Leaders will take part in is ‘Safe and Empowered’ training delivered by Jess McBeth from SWGfL. This is an excellent course which we attended as part of our own original training which takes the negativity away from conversations around internet safety, instead empowering young people to make responsible decisions online. We have really enjoyed working remotely with external partners to provide them with ways to engage with schools and staff remotely.

We also try to keep up to date and network with members of other authorities. Social media has been an excellent way to do this. We have also enjoyed taking part in the weekly Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert catch up on a Friday morning. This allows us to chat to other Microsoft Edu enthusiasts and try to emulate good practice we see in other authorities.

We continue to meet virtually, together and with partners (sometimes with the addition of a three- year-old climbing on Meg’s head) to develop the Digital Skills of all stakeholders. This week we have written a paper on “Effective Remote and Digital Learning in Dundee City Council” which we hope will complement the recovery plan of our authority as we move to into a Blended Learning environment. This outlines our vision for moving forward; we plan to build on the fantastic skills our educators have acquired and to make Digital Learning standard practice in every classroom in Dundee.

Finally, we’d like to extend our thanks to all staff in Dundee City Council for showing such passion, enthusiasm and resilience in the face of such an horrific situation. Personally, we can take so many positives from the lockdown situation which completely justify the hours we have put in! Digital Learning has exploded in Dundee and although we advise on the practicalities of using such tools, it is the practitioners who teach us all about the innovative ways to use these tools to deliver High Quality Learning and Teaching opportunities. From Virtual Sports days to online STEM challenges we are constantly amazed by the quality of Remote learning in Dundee and the positivity of our educators.

For helpful links, information or just to check out what we are up to, follow @DigiLearnDundee on Twitter.

@DigiLearnDundee@missmbrough@davekeenan8