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Department of Computer Science and Technology

The free Isaac Computer Science learning platform developed by experts from this Department and the Raspberry Pi Foundation is expanding to cover GCSE content as well as A levels. The change is happening in response to overwhelming demand from teachers and students.

The GCSE programme will be launched in January 2022, with the full suite of content available by September 2022.

Isaac Computer Science is a free platform that is already being used by 2,000 teachers and 18,000 students of A level Computer Science. It provides content, exercises to complete and a wide range of features for teachers such as gradebooks and auto-marked homework assignments. There is also a programme of events to support Computer Science learning, run by Raspberry Pi.

Record number of question-attempts
During the lockdown, the platform proved particularly popular with students who were learning from home. In late April last year, there was an all-time record – 31,418 – for the number of weekly question-attempts students made on the platform.

Isaac Computer Science was created in collaboration between this Department and the Raspberry Pi Foundation, thanks to the Department of Education, which is funding it as part of the National Centre for Computing Education.

Isaac runs collaboratively. "We provide the technological platform, run the analytics, and think about how the technology/pedagogy interaction will work such that we can create innovative ways of setting and marking students’ work," explains Professor Alastair Beresford, one of the co-leaders of the platform. "Raspberry Pi delivers the content, the events and the outreach."

And now it is going to be available to help GCSE, as well as A level, students and teachers.

GCSE content covers national curriculum
Isaac Computer Science GCSE will support students and teachers of GCSE computer science across the OCR, AQA, Eduqas and WJEC exam bodies, covering the whole of the national curriculum.

The content will be aimed at ages 14 to 16 and will be suitable for students of all experience levels and backgrounds — from those who have studied little computer science at Key Stage 3 and are simply interested, to those who are already set to pursue a career related to computer science.

Students will be able to:

  • Use the platform for structured, self-paced study and progress tracking 
  • Prepare for their GCSE examinations according to their exam body 
  • Get instant feedback from the interactive questions to guide further study 
  • Explore areas of interest more deeply

Teachers will be able to: 

  • Use the content and examples on the platform as the basis for classroom work 
  • Direct their students to topics to read as homework 
  • Set self-marking questions as homework or in the classroom as formative assessment to identify areas where additional support is required and track students' progress 
  • As part of Isaac Computer Science GCSE, Raspberry Pi will also organise an events programme for GCSE students to get support with specific topics, as well as inspiration about opportunities to continue their computer science education beyond GCSE into A level and higher education or employment.

Accessible all over the world
As is the case for the Isaac Computer Science A level content, the content for this project will be created to suit the English national curriculum and exam bodies. However, anyone anywhere in the world will be able to access and use the platform for free. The content will be published under an Open Government License v3.0

Published by Rachel Gardner on Monday 22nd March 2021