Software to support server-side development for Higher Computing Science

The new Higher Computing Science has a clear focus on modern technologies and development for the Web.  Server-side scripting and online databases are the building blocks of the large information systems that we all use today.

The new Higher requires learners to provide “exemplifications and implementation of coding to create and modify information systems including the use of: … scripting (database/web pages), server-side scripting…”

This means that every learner studying Higher Computing Science should have experience of using these technologies.  To support the introduction of the new Higher Computing Science, Aberdeen City Council have created and deployed a number of open source software packages.

We have deployed EasyPHP to provide each learner with a dedicated web and database server. This open source software provides an Apache Web Server, MySQL Database Server, PHP language plug-in (to allow for server-side scripting), phpMyAdmin (a web based database management tool) and Xdebug (to provide full debug information for learners as they develop programs).  These servers are hosted locally on each computer where this software is deployed and the servers are controlled via a small application that learners can manage to start/store the servers as required.

This solution provides a full suite of technology that our teachers can now deploy in the classroom. We have modified the software so the data that a learner creates is stored and moves with the leaner in his/her roaming profile.  No matter which computer he/she is using the required data is available. 

As the solution is deployed locally on each station, the web pages are viewed using the localhost (http://localhost/) URL and the server is not broadcast to the wider Internet.

To assist with the development of programs, we have also deployed the open source NetBeans web project editor which supports development using a number of technologies that feature in the new Higher:  Javascript (client-side scripting), PHP (server-side scripting), MySQL (database queries), HTML, CSS and others.

In tandem with this software deployment, we have also provided training to support this technology, which all our Computing Science teachers have been involved with. 

If you would like additional information about this solution please contact Charlie Love at Aberdeen City Council.

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