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Department of Computer Science and Technology

Ada Computer Science is a free online platform for teachers and students around the world, developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the University of Cambridge.

As children return to school this autumn, Ada Computer Science – the new online computer science learning platform – is offering computing teachers a diagnostic test they can use to benchmark where students are in their learning. The test can also be personalised by teachers.

Ada Computer Science is a free online learning platform for teachers, students, and anyone interested in learning about computer science around the world. It has been developed jointly by this Department and the Raspberry Pi Foundation

The platform includes GCSE and A Level 'start-of-the-year' quizzes that  teachers can use to test their new GCSE/A level computer science students. They can set the quizzes as assignments and use the results to identify areas to work on.

Ada Computer Science is new – but it builds on the 10 years of experience, the technology and the sound pedagogical principles behind the Isaac programme. Since its launch in March, more than 5,300 teachers and students have signed up, answering more than 66,000 questions.

And the platform is being used for research as well as teaching. Data collected from users of the site and their question attempts is being used to develop and trial innovative new educational products and services.

So those who take part are helping push forward research in computing education as well as using a platform that supports their own teaching and learning.

With the rapid advances being made in AI systems and chatbots built on large language models, such as ChatGPT, it’s more important than ever that all young people understand the fundamentals of computer science.

Duncan Maidens

The evolution of Ada Computer Science comes at an important time, says Duncan Maidens, Director of Learning Products at the Raspberry Pi Foundation. 

"With the rapid advances being made in AI systems and chatbots built on large language models, such as ChatGPT, it’s more important than ever that all young people understand the fundamentals of computer science," he explains.

"Our aim is to enable young people all over the world to learn about computer science through providing access to free, high-quality and engaging resources that can be used by both students and teachers."

Quiz builder
Tools that have been created to help teachers include a 'quiz builder' that enables teachers to create a set of questions for their class as an assignment or as a way of benchmarking students’ progress.

Teachers can either build a quiz around a particular topic — for example, Boolean logic — or pick questions from all the topics across the curriculum. There are also options to personalise the quiz by setting a title and rearranging the questions into an appropriate order.

The Ada Computer Science platform is informed by research. Several features on the learning platform collect data which is then used to shape its development. One example is a data set compiled from analysing incorrect answers to questions. This has allowed the platform developers to identify new misconceptions – and to provide specific feedback to students to support their learning.

New Artificial Intelligence topic
And there are more features on the way. With AI changing the world and fast becoming an essential new part of computer science education, Ada will soon be adding a new Artificial Intelligence (AI) topic, as a blog post on the Ada platform makes clear.

"It's important that young people learn about AI and machine learning concepts so they can understand how AI models are built, trained, and applied to real-world scenarios," says Duncan Maidens.

"We've all seen misleading stories about evil AI-powered robots taking over the world. But while ethical concerns about AI are certainly not unfounded, our job as educators is to give students the correct information and context to make up their own minds. That's why we'll soon be adding a new set of AI resources to our platform.

"Created by our team of experienced educators and AI education researchers, it will bring together a wide range of AI themes including ethics, bias, data models, and more into one resource for teachers and students to use."


Published by Rachel Gardner on Wednesday 13th September 2023