Saturday, June 22, 2013

Can Mozilla Webmaker tools meet new Computing curriculum requirements?

Can it meet new Computing requirements?

Today I finally completed my first html web 'quarter-page' using the brilliant Thimble tool of the Mozilla Webmaker site after signing up for an account over 1 month ago. It wasn't difficult to create the basics of the page as there is a wealth of information on the Webmaker site; if you wish you can be lead through the more intricate webpage building using CSS, I'll leave that for the summer holiday. The Webmaker site also includes Popcorn Maker which I haven't used yet but gives users the power to remix audio, video and image content found on the web.

New National Curriculum requirements for Computing (in England) come into effect from 2014. The requirements are as follows:

KS1 (5-7 years)

  • understand what algorithms are, how they are implemented as programs on digital devices, and that programs execute by following a sequence of instructions
  • write and test simple programs
  • use logical reasoning to predict the behaviour of simple programs
  • organise, store, manipulate and retrieve data in a range of digital formats
  • communicate safely and respectfully online, keeping personal information private, and recognise common uses of information technology beyond school.

KS2 (8-11 years)

  • design and write programs that accomplish specific goals, including controlling or simulating physical systems; solve problems by decomposing them into smaller parts
  • use sequence, selection, and repetition in programs; work with variables and various forms of input and output; generate appropriate inputs and predicted various forms of input and output; generate appropriate inputs and predicted outputs to test programs
  • use logical reasoning to explain how a simple algorithm works and to detect and correct errors in algorithms and programs
  • understand computer networks including the internet; how they can provide multiple services, such as the world-wide web; and the opportunities they offer for communication and collaboration
  • describe how internet search engines find and store data; use search engines effectively; be discerning in evaluating digital content; respect individuals and intellectual property; use technology responsibly, securely and safely
  • select, use and combine a variety of software (including internet services) on a range of digital devices to accomplish given goals, including collecting, analysing, evaluating and presenting data and information.

I want to build up a better picture of how various Mozilla tools could be used to meet these requirements. My initial reaction is to suggest that the tools will be better off with KS2 children as they do demand some degree of reading ability which may hinder progress at an earlier age. So let's say the tools are aimed at KS2 children. How can they be incorporated into the teaching and learning of Computing at that age group? How will teachers with no experience of coding cope? 

Here's my webpage created using Thimble. It took me less than 15 minutes to knock together. As basic as it is, the scope Thimble provides for building webpages is whatever you want. It can be as basic as you wish (you can create a page by just changing the default text included in the first demo page) and as advanced as adding CSS to control fonts, colours, text boxes, buttons and the rest.

I will use WebMaker as part of my Computing and Tech Club from September to train up Digital Leaders who can then use their skills to teach their peers and lead staff; I'm excited by the opportunities the new Computing curriculum offers schools.

If you have your own ideas of how the Webmaker tools (and the equally brilliant Hackasaurus X-Ray Goggles tool) can be used to meet new Computing Curriculum requirements then add them as a comment below.