BBC unveils new computing and coding content for children (1 Sept 2014)

Reblogged from the BBC’s press release from 1 September 2014
“BBC Children’s and BBC Learning today announce a range of content across Bitesize, CBBC and CBeebies that will encourage children across the UK to get involved with computing and coding, with new education resources, lively television series, games and competitions.”


via BBC – BBC unveils new computing and coding content for children – Media centre.



OCR exam board apparently removes Controlled Assessments from GCSE Computing, via @tonyparkin

Updated 1 July 2014 2.30pm – the OCR has agreed to let students continue with their controlled assessments. More information available at (look for July 2014 » + GCSE Computing (from 2012) – UPDATE)


Updated 30 June 2014 1.30pm – the OCR will contact centres tomorrow to give their final decision.


— Original post below —

A few excerpts from the post OCR assessment shock hits GCSE Computing students are included below; there is a lot of Twitter discussion on the #withdrawnCA hashtag.

“In a major blow to thousands of students taking the OCR’s Computing GCSE, the exam board has withdrawn the controlled assessment task for June 2015 that many of them have already completed – and in some cases have already submitted.”

“In a surprise twist just after 9am this morning (Monday June 30), the notification letter was suddenly taken down from the OCR website, without any explanation. Whether this marks a shift in thinking at OCR, or merely means that the letter was posted too early online, as indicated by its curious July dateline, will no doubt emerge shortly.”

“As news of the letter reached the teachers involved, a storm broke online as they took to social media and web forums to discuss their reactions over the weekend. Prominent among them was Drew Buddie, well-known as @digitalmaverick on Twitter, who has started the #withdrawnCA hashtag to bring together the online discussion, and offer support from NAACE. Drew is currently Naace senior vice chair on its board of management.”

Further reading
Computing assessment scrapped amid fears of cheating (30 June 2014) tesconnect.




Can computers be creative? BBC R4 prog 15 May, 11.30am w Prof @Trevor_Cox

For those near a radio tomorrow morning Prof Trevor Cox is exploring whether we can consider computers as having the ability to be creative. His programme “Can a Computer Write Shakespeare?” will be broadcast on Thursday morning (15 May 2014) at 11.30am on BBC Radio 4, or you can listen online at the link given.

“Trevor Cox asks whether computers can ever be truly creative.

An old adage says that a monkey sitting at a typewriter could eventually write Shakespeare. By the same token, could a computer ever create a work of art that could match Shakespeare’s creativity?”

He’s also written a blog post “Can computers compose?” which talks about software used to create pieces of music, including a piece called ‘Adsum’ that had a full orchestral arrangement and premiere (see the video on Trevor’s blog).

For a more unplugged way of creating music have a look at Howard Goodall’s episode on Melody from his ‘How Music Works‘ series. In the video below (from 12min 54sec but Howard introduces the piece a few seconds before that) he asks people at a shopping mall to pick numbers from a bag and uses these to determine which notes to play on the piano, resulting in a piece of crowdsourced music.

Calling UK teachers – free copies of cs4fn issue on computer science and medical devices

Free magazine for UK schools from cs4fn, about computer science, medical devices and patient safety.

cs4fn (Computer Science For Fun, based at Queen Mary University of London, QMUL) has been providing school students and teachers with inspiring resources, including magazines, magic books, puzzles and schools talks, about computer science for almost ten years.

Teaching London Computing is a spin-off project from cs4fn to explicitly support teachers. It is run jointly by QMUL and colleagues at King’s College London and provides courses and classroom resources for teachers who’ll be delivering the new KS3, GCSE and A-level Computing curricula. Primary school teachers are also finding many of the resources useful.

There’s also a bit of overlap with a third project, CHI+MED, which is adding a human dimension to cs4fn and TLC. It is funded by one of the UK’s research councils (EPSRC) to investigate how interactive medical devices could be made safer. That project runs over four universities (UCL, QMUL, Swansea University and City University) and the main investigator at QMUL, Prof Paul Curzon, is also one of the people behind cs4fn.

CHI+MED (computer-human interaction for medical devices) takes a very broad view of medical devices – how they’re designed, how they’re approved for use on the market, how people in hospitals decide which one(s) to buy and how they’re actually used in the real world by busy healthcare professionals. Computing is an important aspect of medical device design (software performs calculations and determines how the machine responds to keypresses when a nurse enters a drug dose) but it’s not the only one. It’s important to look at the people involved (the ‘human’ bit of ‘human-computer interaction) at every stage of device development and use too, for example when trying to reduce the harm that can arise when someone makes a slip in mistyping a drug dose.

Magazine cover for cs4fn's special issue on medical devices and patient safetyIssue 17 of the cs4fn magazine series is about the research that people on the CHI+MED project are doing along with related work of other groups. It provides a good overview of some of the issues that researchers are thinking about when looking at patient safety in medical devices. It also shows how computer scientists and researchers work with other types of scientists (ergonomists, human-factors experts) in trying to understand and solve a real-world problem.

Sign up for free copies of the magazine
cs4fn already sends copies of the magazines to schools who subscribe. If you are a teacher or school librarian who would like to receive one or more copies (up to a class set of 30*) of this, and future magazines, please fill in your school’s address details (UK addresses only please) on this form and we’ll do the rest (while stocks last). The magazine is free due to support from EPSRC and Google.

*If you need a larger number of copies, eg for an event, please get in touch ( and we’ll do our best to get more to you.

[This post cross-posted to both Teaching London Computing and CHI+MED blogs]





From BBC News – ‘Master’ computing teachers recruited to train others

From BBC News, 22 January 2014
“A network of 400 “master” computer science teachers is being recruited to deliver a new computer science curriculum in schools across England.

These specialist teachers will train teachers in other schools and provide resources for teachers to use in class.

Funded by government, the scheme is run by the British Computer Society.”

This was announced at BETT 2014 and the full story can be read here