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Facing the new computing curriculum with confidence

Helena Gillespie, the lead educator of the University of East Anglia’s ‘Teaching Computing’ free online course, explains how working with a team including Computing at School (CAS), classroom teachers and advisors has shaped this course, aimed at building teachers’ confidence with the new computing curriculum.

new computing curriculum

In September 2014, schools will begin to teach the new computing curriculum. While many teachers and schools are already including technology in their teaching, many do not feel ready to meet the specific demands of the new curriculum. The course team behind the University of East Anglia’s free online course, ‘Teaching computing: part 1’, have designed it in a way that takes teachers step by step through understanding the content of the new curriculum and the subject knowledge it requires, and on to how to plan, teach and assess computing. We’ve been lucky enough to be invited into real classrooms to film teachers and pupils at work and we’ve captured that on film to share with you. I hope that watching those teachers in action will make teaching the new curriculum seem both engaging and possible. The course is free, open and online, so all teachers can participate, either on their own or with their colleagues in school.

I’ve always believed that good teachers are also good learners, and in my role as Lead Educator on the Teaching Computing course, my learning curve has been steep. Building the course has led me to engage in video editing, conduct interviews, write content and really consider how teachers might be best supported by this course. This has been both challenging and time consuming, but the thing that has kept me going is the feedback I’ve had from teachers about how much they feel the course is needed. I know that the new curriculum is a real challenge for many, and we have designed this open online course with the aim of enabling teachers to build their confidence and competence in the new subject. We hope that by the time September brings the new curriculum, those who have completed the course will feel able to teach their own engaging computing lessons.

The team behind the course is phenomenally talented and brings together classroom teachers with educational advisors as well as the subjects association and academics to pool our understanding of what makes good teacher education for the subject of computing. When I meet members of the team, we often talk about what we’ve learned so far, what there is still to learn about this subject and about open online courses as a mode of teacher education.

But the driving force of the course will not come from the films we have made or the articles we have written. It will come from the teachers participating on the course. Our experience of providing open online learning so far has shown that it is the interactions between participants that drive the learning, the way they interact with each other, and the learning materials that brings the learning experience to life. As lead educator I am looking forward to joining in discussions and writing course emails that will contribute to this interaction. I’m expecting to learn a lot, I’m expecting those participating in the course to learn a lot too, and good learners will become good teachers of computing in schools.

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