Earlier this year I took part in my first MOOC (Mass Open Online Course) on the FutureLearn platform. Teaching Computing: Part 1 covered some of the content of the new Computing curriculum and engaged teachers with other teachers along the way.
One of the activities on the course was to look at the glossary of terms which are covered in the new Programme of Study. Words such as algorithm, debug, control, variable – things that can easily be either misunderstood or dismissed as complicated Computing jargon. The course challenged us to think how we would explain these terms, either to colleagues or to our pupils.
As I started to re-write the glossary definitions, I had one of those light-bulb moments ….. algorithms are a step-by-step set of instructions, so why not structure the definition around a set of steps? After that, the ideas flowed – the definition of debug curved around a picture of a bug, control was written on a set of traffic lights, repetition went round in a circle whereas sequence was split into numbers.
I hesitantly tweeted some of my drawings out to see what the response was – positive. Wow! I asked if anyone would be interested in collaborating by computerising the pictures and Steve Tipton (@steveatlingbob) offered to turn the drawings into image files. We tweeted a few, and again the response was positive – I felt it was a good achievement as part of the course. We talked about doing some more, but my inspiration had dried up a bit. Still, we had a useful set of resources to use in the classroom.
Fast forward to August this year and the lead educator, Helena Gillespie, contacted me to ask if the images could be used in the second presentation of the course. A quick consultation with Steve ensued, followed by a crash course in Creative Commons licensing, and we arranged for all the images to be included as part of the course.
Teaching Computing: Part 1 went live today, and our images are in section 1.8. Of course, they are only one of many reasons to sign up for this MOOC – if you are interested, the link is here: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/teaching-computing-part-one-2. The course is sure to spark more creativity and bring more teachers together to share resources which has to be a very good thing indeed.