Learning Episodes

First MOOC on Computing for Schools Now Live for All

Cambridge (UK), October 2013 - The first massive open online course (MOOC) designed to support teaching and learning of computing in schools has gone live for all. The first eighty-plus bite-sized videos released now focus on concepts at the heart of computing - hardware, data representation, and programming - essential for any teacher and student new to the subject.

A Cambridge-based partnership of exam board OCR, Cambridge University Press (CUP), and the Raspberry Pi Foundation is behind this first school-level MOOC built upon a GCSE curriculum. Designed primarily to support teachers and fourteen-to-sixteen-year-old Computing students, the course is accessible to anyone who wants to learn the basics of computer programming and demystify the world of algorithms, logic gates, and RAMs.

This free MOOC is accessible on the go via smart phones and tablets, as well as on pcs in the classroom or at home. Featuring a rich combination of videos and learning exercises, participants can either complete the MOOC or use the resources in the classroom, as a revision aid, as a self-teaching resource for flipped classrooms, or a combination of all three.

The online course is aligned to OCR’s pioneering GCSE in Computing, and the popular mini "Raspberry Pi" computer plays a starring role. The GCSE and the Pi have helped to revive interest in computing in schools, following its absence from the curriculum for a generation.

In total, the MOOC will feature over 350 bite-sized videos ranging in length and style to suit different learners. Each is presented by experienced Computer Science teachers from across the UK.

Interactive exercises designed to reinforce learning across all the key topics complement the videos. Participants can request electronic "statements of participation" for each topic and for the whole course that record their achievement and participation in the MOOC. An "Ask the Expert" facility will be available to give all users a chance to interact with the course presenters on popular questions.

All the elements of the MOOC are grouped into manageable learning episodes within larger key topics. More learning episodes full of resources will be made available at regular intervals during the academic year. (For a list of the learning episodes covered by the MOOC, see notes to editors).

ICT and Computing teacher Julie Hodgson, who presents videos on the MOOC, says, "I think these resources will massively benefit teachers, as they deliver a range of topics in detail and can be incorporated as part of a lesson or put as a link on a VLE for homework. The MOOC will enable students to be more independent in their learning and make links among the wide variety of topics."

Mark Dawe, Chief Executive of OCR, says, "Everyone interested in learning the basics of computing should take advantage of this resource, whether it’s for self-teaching, revision, or alongside teaching of our GCSE course in the classroom. This school-level MOOC is new to everyone and a potential model for rolling out in many other subjects. We are determined to learn from the release of each phase of the videos and welcome feedback along the way."

Peter Phillips, Chief Executive of Cambridge University Press, says, "We are proud to play a key part in this innovation: a flexible and open-access course for GCSE that draws on all the University's strengths to help students develop their computing skills, so important in today’s world."

Jack Lang, Chair of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, says, "We are very pleased to support the development of a truly open resource that offers such an accessible way into learning and teaching fundamentals of computing. Pupils and teachers will have a spread of different ways to work with the MOOC, so what they get out of it can be optimised for their current knowledge, their learning style, and for the resources they have available. We look forward to seeing more kids being able to discover just how rewarding and interesting computing can be - and to seeing what's next for the MOOC."