First Steps in Computer Science

TEL’s SynergyNet framework is still finding uses over a year after the project it was developed for finished. The latest use is as the supporting framework for First Steps in Computer Science; an app intended to help teach the new computer science curriculum for Key Stage 1 in the UK.

The First Steps in Computer Science app is built on Logo: a concept commonly used to help teach programming to younger students.  What sets this app apart from the many others that utilise Logo is its intended ability to track students’ progress through tasks.  The app is designed to generate data which can be used in reports for teachers to track students’ progress. This data could also be used in reports intended for parents and the students themselves.

The app is intended to run on Windows 8 Tablets in the classroom which is the first of several reasons why SynergyNet was chosen as the supporting framework.   Its ability to easily integrate with the Windows touch interface means that development can focus purely on the contents of the app.

The computer science curriculum’s sudden introduction may mean that many teachers don’t have the relevant experience for teaching the concepts outlined on the new syllabus. The primary purpose of this app is to aid educators in teaching this new curriculum. This is why later phases of development intend to bring live reporting to the app. Using SynergyNet’s networking and web interface features, the app can update a teacher’s PC, tablet or phone with a live report on students’ progress.

Research is currently taking place into finding what reports produced from the app should contain.  It is intended that the reports highlight where students may be having difficulties or excelling.  This information summarised on class-wide reports could aid teachers in planning future lessons based on which concepts a class appears to need further instruction on.

The app’s development is being coordinated by Durham University‘s Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring and is funded through Innovate UK‘s Learning Technologies: Design for Impact scheme.

For more information you can read the summary of the First Steps of Computer Science project on page 4 of Innovate UK’s Design for Impact Results PDF.

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