Saturday saw an early start and a train to Birmingham University for the Computing At School 6th Annual conference for teachers. With a ticket price of £35 this was a very reasonably priced CPD activity.
The University of Birmingham is a lovely campus and I was warmly welcomed by student ambassadors on my arrival and pointed in the direction of the Computer Science department for registration and choice of seminars and workshops. The organisation was very slick and free wifi was offered to all attendees which was nice.
The opening keynote presentation was given by Tony Hey (VP Microsoft research) on “The Computing Universe - origins of computational thinking”. This was very engaging, lively, relevant and interesting as it explored the origins of computational thinking and the history of computers.
Following a well needed coffee break I headed over to a talk by Pete Dring on assessment from Pete Dring of Manor CE Academy, York. This was a very interesting talk looking at how we can assess the new curriculum and show progress without using levels.
Hot on the heels of the first workshop I attended a very good talk from Mark Dorling and Thomas Ng on Managing the transition from ICT to Computing. Again this contained lots of very useful ideas and thoughts about the way that ICT is changing and the new ideas surrounding Computational Thinking.
Lunch was very pleasant with an excellent buffet provided. It was a good time to socialise and discuss ideas from the morning.
After lunch I attended one of the most inspiring talks I have ever seen! This was presented by Peter Dickman from Google. This was a very frank talk about what the actual needs of future employers are and the benefits of developing computation thinking for everyone. i am still reflecting and processing this talk but it gave me a real insight into the moral purpose of Computing in the National Curriculum ---- Watch this space for more -----
My final talk was presented by Aaron Sloman (Honorary Professor of Artificial Intelligence). This was a wide ranging and interesting talk which posed many important fundamental questions. I will definitely take away from both this and Peter’s talk that the future is simply not doing more of the same.
The day ended with a talk by Quentin Cutts (University of Glasgow) which discussed the key concepts required for computational thinking and how many teachers will have these concepts but forget that our learners won’t. We were given a couple of problems to solve.
In summary, this was a very encouraging and practical day. Although I am not a CS teacher (actually a Chemistry teacher!) it has definitely given me ideas about where I want to go in the future.
Computing at School