Get with the Program, oh and the Apps and the E-Safety and more!

Thanks to Dave Smith, Computing and E-safety Adviser at HES and Junior Vice-Chair of Naace for this blog post on Switched on Computing!

It’s certainly been an exciting time in the world of Computing in schools of late.  The new Computing curriculum is proving to be an exciting challenge for schools.  Schools using Switched on Computing are certainly getting to grips with the added emphasis on Computer Science.  For example, I have seen a marked improvement in teacher and pupil confidence in the use of Scratch.  They love the way in which they can not only develop knowledge and skills in school, but extend this at home too.  This isn’t the only aspect that is improving as a result of Switched on units…

E-Books and Apps – simple and easy

Many schools are also making use of tablet devices, such as iPads, to deliver content from the units.  This is particularly the case with units including a focus on E-Book creation – where apps such as Book Creator and My Story are proving particularly popular and allowing pupils to quickly and easily create high-quality digital books through one device.

The development of Apps in Year 6 is proving extremely popular too.  Schools really like the project-based approach to the units and are developing apps to help with aspects such as SATs revision, transition to secondary school, residential trips and the like.   Appshed is a good choice as an app development tool – it has a free version that you can try out first too.  Go on, give it a go!

E-Safety - Safe and Responsible use

E-Safety is a core component of the Switched on Computing materials.  The progressive nature of the resources are being well-received by teachers who are making use of these in order to facilitate a curriculum that is focused-on safe and responsible use of new technologies.   Make sure that your school is celebrating Safer Internet Day on Tuesday 10th February 2015 too.

What’s the best way to map the units?

Some teachers have been asking, “Do I have to teach the units in linear order within year groups?  Do I have to teach one per half-term?”.   The simple answer is, “No”.  You can decide how and when to teach the units and how long to spend on each one.  Therefore, why not block them, to enable perhaps whole mornings, afternoons or days to be spent on teaching them.  Often it allows for more concentrated learning opportunities and makes the organisation of the accompany technology easier to co-ordinate (and charge-up!).

Top tips to make the best use of Switched on ComputingSwitchedOn Computing logo (Medium)_less white background for web

  • Consider blocking units to enable more concentrated study.  This works particularly well in Year 6 where the pressure is often on focusing-on SATs in the Spring and first-half of the Summer term

  • Make sure you have mapped the Switched on units to your school’s curriculum.  Have copies of these, as well as the E-Safety aspects available for inspectors to see too.  This should be an absolute prerequisite.

  • Find every opportunity to extend learning beyond the classroom – using the Homework guidance in the units.  Encourage pupils to carry on with Scratch activities, app development and other projects away from school – then encourage pupils to share their knowledge and skills to help further learning in class (always ensuring that there are opportunities for pupils who have limited access to technology at home to have extra support in-school).



Computing and ICT, Switched on Computing

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