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Raspberry Pi backs launch of online computing courses to teach tech skills

02 Oct 2013
Raspberry Pi

The first massive open online course (MOOC) intended to assist in the teaching and learning of the UK's computing curriculum has been launched.

The course, set up through a joint partnership between exam board OCR, Cambridge University Press and the Raspberry Pi Foundation, is aimed at teachers and computing students aged 14-16.

The computing curriculum will become a mandatory undertaking for UK school pupils from September 2014, and this course is intended to play a part in making sure teachers are up to speed with the curriculum overhaul, as well as assisting with students and teachers at schools that already follow a computing curriculum.

Ultra-cheap, back-to-basics mini computer Raspberry Pi is said to play a "starring role" in the course, which will eventually offer 350 short videos on a variety of computing topics, from the basics of "what is a computer?" to in-depth discussions on algorithms and logic.

The Pi will feature both in videos and as a practical element of the course, although ownership of the sub-£30 device is not mandatory.

Currently 80 videos are live on the course's website, which is available free to all. Participants can choose to receive "statements of participation" to prove that they have taken the course, with details on how they have performed in the tasks they are given.

Mark Dawe, chief executive of OCR, said his firm welcomed everyone looking to bulk up their computing knowledge. "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."

Jack Lang, chair of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, added: "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," he said.

"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."

The new computing curriculum is designed to tackle the UK's and EU's ongoing skills crisis, where both businesses and government think tanks have warned that many more computing graduates are needed to fill highly skilled, technical jobs in industries including IT.

Its predecessor, the ICT curriculum, was dropped last year after being labelled as no longer relevant to students, with too much focus on productivity software and a lack of teaching of practical programming.

An example video from the new course can be found below.

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Michael Passingham
About

Michael Passingham joined V3 as a reporter in June 2013. Prior to working at V3, Michael spent time at computing magazine PC Pro. Michael covers IT skills, social media, tech startups and also produces V3's video content.

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