Computing Progress logo
Community Supported

Expansion and examples to illustrate the criteria

 

 

1. Design, write and debug programs

 

1.1 I can solve problems by decomposing them into smaller parts

Candidates should be able to break down problems into manageable steps

Evidence: from assessor observations, content of learner portfolios.

Additional information and guidance for assessors:

  • This work will set the understanding for dealing with algorithms in the later elements as it will introduce the key procedures and elements of problem solving.  Students need to see that problems can generally be broken down into smaller elements which allow them to then be more easily solved.  They need to have some opportunities to look at problems and see the separate elements and then practice on findings these smaller parts in other problems.  You can also cross reference to other subjects here.  In art, it is easier to create a painting by painting the background, then the middle ground objects, then the foreground.  In sport, you learn some basic passing and ball control, before you play any matches.  In Maths, you work out calculations in sequence and break down large numbers into their digits to manage the results better.
  • You could work through the class or school register with students as a "problem" to figure out how to organise the students.  How can you do this?  The obvious start is with surname.  So alphabetically.  This is easy enough, but what if you have other factors you would like to include such as age and height.  Give students the random data, and get them to work out the best way to find the result and therefore solve the problem.
  • Since you will be using computer programs later in this sub-section, you could introduce students to some problems that are broken down.  You could use some Blockly games as a class and talk about how each part of the puzzle adds up to an overall solution.  This will also introduce the look and feel of a visual program and give a visual sense of the elements or parts.

 

1.2 I can use sequence, selection, and repetition in programs

Candidates should be able to understand and apply these terms in their work

Evidence: from assessor observations, content of learner portfolios.

Additional information and guidance for assessors:

  • A key aspect or computer programs is the individual elements that make the whole work.  Students need to know these individual parts work and how they fit together as a whole.  They need to be aware that as a program or set of steps runs, there are parts where a selection needs to be made.  They can be made aware of this in terms of their own login to the school network.  The computer presents them with a box which asks them to select an action, such as login.  If they select this, the next sequence is that the computer will now expect to be presented with their login details.  If they are not presented, i.e. a wrong username or password, the sequence will then repeat.
  • Get students to create their own examples from real life when these words might apply.  They can show a sequence by showing they plan out their day, or a weekend, including activities they have to do and want to do.  They can talk about selection such as when they go shopping or choosing which activities or programs to watch.  They can discuss repetition by looking at their timetable and how it repeats.  Again, use some of their other subjects or hobbies to reinforce how this applies in all that they do.
  • These items can be easily visualized with something like Logo where creating shapes requires all of them.  In order to create a square, they need to have the right sequence of instructions and build it up.  What about more complex shapes such as multi-splined stars.  They could type in a sequence to go forward 20 and right turn 115, for example.  But do they want to type this 50 times?  Much easier to have that small set of instructions and then create a command to repeat them.

1.3 I can work with variables and various forms of input and output

Candidates should be able to explain what variables are, with relevant examples, and show how they relate to input and output

Evidence: from assessor observations, content of learner portfolios.

Additional information and guidance for assessors:

  • Students need to be introduced to variables and how they affect what a program or sequence does.  If you use something like Logo or Blockly, you can show the different variables and work through their effect on what happens when they are changed, and all of the variables will be visible and therefore more tangible.  Students can discuss how variables are used around them, for example pressure and temperature in the weather.  It may be a very sunny day in the Winter, but freezing cold.  What variables affect this outcome?  When they get books from the school library, the library database will keep variables about their name and what book they took out, as well as create a variable to let the librarian know when it is late.  Variables are place holders which computers hold on to while they wait to use them.  Students could also work with basic environments in Flowol.
  • The most obvious input device is the keyboard, but increasingly there are other devices.  Will today's primary school students still be using a physical keyboard and mouse when they enter the work place?  Other input devices can be explored, such as a temperature sensor, or light sensor.  If you have tablet devices with the appropriate software, you could use some voice recognition to show that as an input.  Students can see bar code readers at supermarkets that scan in information to the cash registers.  What input (variables) are they receiving?  Other inputs they could explore would be audio and video inputs.  You can also talk to students very broadly about digital vs analog inputs.  The keys that they press (an analog action) is converted into a binary code (digital) and displayed on the screen as pixels (digital) for their eyes to see (analog).
  • For output, students need to be introduced to a range of outputs and formats, though the final focus will be on how computers handle these outputs.  In very basic terms, a computer takes inputs, processes these, and produces an output, but the more students understand the wide range of inputs and outputs, the better.  Monitors and printers are output devices which both show processes from the computer in a form that we can understand.  If you are using a visual program, you can show the affects of inputs and outputs directly and students can investigate these and reflect on them in a blog or portfolio.

 

1.4 I can identify errors in programs

Candidates should be able to identify and correct some basic programming errors

Evidence: from assessor observations, content of learner portfolios.

Additional information and guidance for assessors:

  • If students can explore a great many programs, especially visual ones such as Blockly or Logo, they can then see the affect of errors, such as typing errors of position errors.  Visual programs make this quite obvious, but it is still important to make sure students understand what the nature of errors are and how to spot them.  In later courses they will learn some of the techniques used to help making error spotting easier in programs, such as the structure and commenting, but for now they just need to evidence that they understand that errors occur with some examples of what they might be.
  • Students need to be able to show that they understand that problems in computer programs can be caused by typing problems (errors in the syntax) as well as errors that the computer can not complete (logical errors).  There are also numerical errors, when the numbers are not correctly rounded or decimal places are in the wrong position.  There are also performance errors when not enough resources are allowed to be used for a process and the process therefore fails.  Other problems occur when the incorrect interface is chosen or it is used incorrectly.  Students don't need to know the explicit detail at this level, but it might still be useful to introduce them to the fact that computer programs generally work with combinations of smaller sections of programs and there are special sub-programs such as APIs (Application Program Interface).  APIs are written so that program writers can writ programs that will talk to pre-existing devices or elements.  For example, programmers can use a printer API which are a set of instructions to tell the printer how to work with an operating system, how to handle different paper and printing options etc.  If the wrong API is chosen, or some instructions that the API expects are wrong, then in this case, the printer will not print.

 

1.5 I can correct errors in programs

Candidates should be able to correct simple program errors

Evidence: from assessor observations, content of learner portfolios.

Additional information and guidance for assessors:

  • Errors in programs will mean that they will not operate; either completely, or at least in part, depending on the nature of the error.  Sometimes the errors are very obvious ones such as letters where numbers should be, or the other way around.  Sometimes they are far harder to detect, such as when a typing error has been used.  In some cases, the program might be expecting to read a small case letter L, but the programmer put in a number 1.  These appear quite similar on a small screen and are therefore easy to overlook.  The computer will get to this point, it will not be able to read the 1 for an l and will just halt.  In many visual programs, such as Blockly, it is easy to see errors in terms of perhaps turning right instead of left etc.  Students need to be able to work on as many of these possible errors as possible so that they get comfortable looking for and finding these errors.  It should be easy enough to create some instructions for a visual program with some obvious and not so obvious errors for them to find and correct.

 

1.6 I can write a program to solve a problem

Candidates should be able to demonstrate that they can create a program which solves a pre-defined problem

Evidence: from assessor observations, content of learner portfolios.

Additional information and guidance for assessors:

  • For this criterion, students need to show that they can create a program to solve a problem that has been set for them, or that they have set for themselves.  The problem could be something like getting an object from A to B in Scratch, or creating a particular shape on Logo.  If you have the programmable devices for Logo or Bee Bot, this can also be getting the Bee or Turtle through an obstacle course.  If using visual programming such as Scractch or Kodu, the problem could be getting a particular object or score in the game.  In all cases, it would be good for students to comment on and reflect about what they are learning, to show that they understand how problems are found and fixed using computing tools.

 

2. Work with algorithms

 

2.1 I can provide reasons why algorithms work

Candidates should be able to demonstrate a range of reasons and examples of working algorithms

Evidence: from assessor observations, content of learner portfolios.

Additional information and guidance for assessors:

  • Basic algorithms, simply put, are sets of instructions that solve a problem.  Students can be introduced to increasingly more complex algorithms as they begin to understand what the term means.  For example, they can be told a basic class algorithm about using the toilet.  First they put up their hand to ask a question to go to the toilet, the teacher responds and says yes, and they put their hand down.  They go to the toilet and return to the classroom.  All students will be aware of their daily algorithms.  Some children might travel to school by bus, so they need to be ready for when the bus arrives, maybe produce a ticket or ID, and travel to school.  This is a set of basic rules to solve the problem, "how do I get to school".  The instructions can be broken down into very fine grained detail.  Some class based activities to get students to follow instructions will reinforce the importance of the quality of the instructions in algorithms.  Students may not appreciate how intelligent they are, but a robot can ONLY do exactly what you tell it to do.  If you tell a robot to walk forward, without other instructions, it will walk forward and keep walking into the desk and wall until it is told to stop.  Students are intelligent enough to work out alternative instructions to solve the problem (a table in the way).
  • The reasons that students provide will therefore illustrate that they understand that the outcome is only going to be as good as the quality of the algorithm and that any mistakes and bad instructions will not result in the desire resolution of the problem.  They should be able to provide a number of their own algorithms, with comments, about why they work the way they do, or how effective they are due to certain elements such as the quality of writing or suitability to the problem they were designed to fix.

 

2.2 I can identify errors in algorithms

Candidates should be able to spot and correct obvious problems with algorithms

Evidence: from assessor observations, content of learner portfolios.

Additional information and guidance for assessors:

  • The key problems with algorithms are going to be in terms of the individual instructions being badly written, or not clear, as well as the steps not being detailed enough or not working in a correct sequence.
  • Students should be given opportunities to work their way through algorithms that are created for them or that they create themselves to look for some obvious errors.  With simples sets of instructions, it should be fairly easy to spot typing errors or perhaps numbers which will not work.  Some of this might be linked to cross curricular work and reinforce concepts in other areas.  For example, students should be aware that the Logo Turtle can move more than 360 degrees, but that is the full extent of a circle's angles so it would be a waste of time to move more than that amount.  Other obvious ones would be syntax errors such as rite instead of right.
  • Sequence errors should also be relatively easy to spot since the problem will not really be solved.  In working with a problem such as a maze, if the students instructs the sprite to move forward without specifying how far, they might not reach the goal or might go past their goal and therefore end the program.

 

2.3 I can relate an algorithm to controlling events

Candidates should be able to show that they understand the relationship between algorithms and their effects

Evidence: from assessor observations, content of learner portfolios.

Additional information and guidance for assessors:

  • The key evidence for this criterion is that students show a clear understanding of the link to what they write as an algorithm, and how this has an effect on the output, whether that is a physical Turtle or Bee, or something on a computer monitor.  There should be good evidence that they know the quantities and can relate these effectively.  If writing an algorithm for Logo and the Turtle is going off the screen, then they need to change their variables to make sure it is properly controlled.  It would be useful for students to write some of their ideas on how this relationship works on a blog or portfolio to make it clearer and personalize it.
  • If students use a blog or portfolio, such as the Learning Site, they can show clear evidence through screen shots of what the relation is to their algorithm and what is happening in the program.  They can then comment on this or allow other people's comments and respond to these.  They could also write a set of basic instructions for younger children to see how clear their algorithm is.  Students can also use programs such as Flowol, Commotion or MakeyMakey to control physical items.

 

2.4 I can relate an algorithm to repeating actions

Candidates should be able to demonstrate the use of repeats in their algorithms

Evidence: from assessor observations, content of learner portfolios.

Additional information and guidance for assessors:

  • The key understanding in this criterion is that some instructions are repeated quite frequently and that it is more efficient to create some way to repeat the sub-set than typing out the instructions 100s of times.  Many times, recipes are used to illustrate what an algorithm is.  In this case, it would not be necessary to out an ingredient's name several times with the instruction to mix or blend it, it would be far better to say, "repeat step two five times" etc.  As with earlier examples, this needs to be clear in programming.  Most people will understand what this means in a recipe, but a computer will not understand this instruction unless it is clearly defined elsewhere or very explicit.  Students therefore need to be able to show that they know that repeats are required in algorithms and they can evidence their own or point them out in someone else's instructions.
  • A range of examples will help students appreciate this criterion and be able to apply it to their learning.  Students should be familiar at home with a repeat algorithm in terms of their home's heating (or cooling in the Summer).  The house boiler will kick in when the temperature drops below a certain threshold, and keep firing and warming the house until the temperature reaches that figure.  The program will then repeat periodically to maintain that temperature.  The same for the oven for their food.

 

3. Understand computer networks, including the Internet

 

3.1 I can identify the World Wide Wide as an important part of the Internet

Candidates should be able to identify the key aspects and attributes of the WWW and how this relates to the Internet more widely

Evidence: from assessor observations, content of learner portfolios.

Additional information and guidance for assessors:

  • Students need to be introduced to some of the key components and technologies that make the world wide web work and how information on the Internet gets to them or from them.  Some of the key terms and components they will need to know include routers, switches, packets, protocols, media (cables, fibre etc), IP address, DNS.  They can gather information about these items from various sources and will need to compile them to show that they have a reasonable understanding of what they are and where and why they are used to make the www.  Some physical activities of passing information between themselves would work well here, especially if each person has part of a message and only when it is assembled at the end will it make sense.  This will show how data packages are chopped up and sent various ways through the web to get to their target, but the target still needs to know what it has to show on the computer screen properly.
  • The Internet is essentially billions of computers that are connected together through various cables and wires.  Each computer has a physical address and this is its IP address.  The address is a series of numbers or letters which identify it over other computers.  Humans struggle with big number sequences, so instead of 212.58.224,20, which is hard to remember, we type in bbc.co.uk.  Special servers called DNS (Domain Name System)  servers translate the number ID of computers (their IP address) into a more understandable name or web address.  Other specialist servers on the web maintain a large datanase of names and IP addresses and keep a map of the best way to get closer to target computers.  These servers are routers.  When students click on a web site to retrieve an image, their computer message is routed through all of these devices to the target computer, which then chops up the image into data packets, with information about what they are and how to put them back together again, and sends them back to your computer.  Your computer reads all the packet information, determines what programme is needed to deal with the packets when assembled, and assembles them into, in this case, an image.
  • The World Wide Web is a connection of computers which each have a special software running on them called a Web Server.  The web server allows you to connect to a computer on the Internet and to look at or retrieve its data and files.  The web server has folders which contain files which are index files, which point to the correct places in their folders for you to find the information you want.  The index pages are made from Hyper Text Mark-up Language (HTML) which is read by your computer and creates web pages which make sense to humans.
  • Since the Internet is a huge web of computers, there is obviously a large chance of information getting lost in the maze.  In order for computers to be able to talk to each other correctly, send the right information to the right place, and assemble it when it gets there, they need good clear rules.  These rules, or instructions, are called protocols.   If you click on an image from the BBC, your computer is asking the BBC server to send a picture to your computer's browser to be displayed.  The message your computer sends is to use Hyper Text Transport Protocol (http), hence the http:// at the beginning of any browser based request.  If you want the data to be sent securely, for example from a bank, it will use secure http, so you will see https://.  This will encrypt, or scramble, the data between computers.  If you are transferring data from computer to computer and you want it to be more reliable, you might use File Transfer Protocol.
  • When data comes in to your school network, it probably comes in to just one server which is the gateway machine, which might have a firewall to stop bad data coming in or unauthorized computer access.  This computer needs to send data to many other computers on the network, but can't be directly connected to all computers at once, so networks use switches and hubs to connect computers together.  A hub will take all the incoming data and share it equally with all connected devices, but a switch will change from port to port to make sure that the computers that need full data speed always get full data speed.

 

3.2 I can find information which is useful for my work

Candidates should be able to demonstrate that they can use the Internet to find information effectively and efficiently

Evidence: from assessor observations, content of learner portfolios.

Additional information and guidance for assessors:

  • The Internet and www, as noted, are billions of computers that contain files, pictures, videos and other data which can be information.  Some of this information is very useful, some of it is not relevant, and some of it is probably useless.  Students need to be able to show that they can use the Internet to assist their work; by finding the information they need and being able to check that it is correct and valid.  There is so much information on the web that it is easy to get lost and distracted.  Various tasks using search engines and basic common sense should be able to demonstrate that they can use the tool effectively to support their work.  This could also be useful for some inter departmental work where they can demonstrate the skill in other subject areas.
  • Useful is a very subjective word, so students need to be able to show that they understand the information they have found and can demonstrate its use in what they are working on.  Just getting a picture which is marginally related to what they are doing is not really evidence that they know why or how much it is useful for their work.

 

3.3 I can appreciate how a search engine selects results and ranks them

Candidates should be able to evaluate the process of search engine ranking

Evidence: from assessor observations, content of learner portfolios.

Additional information and guidance for assessors:

  • A search engine works primarily on algorithms which take various factors and build up a best fit for the end user.  If you use a search engine to look for a particular item, the search engine will look for web pages that contain that exact item as a name in their URL (Uniform Resource Locator) or domain name.  It will then look for information in the web page header files which describe what the site and pages are about.  It will finally look for reference to the item in the various pages that make up the web site.  All of these factors will gain a higher score in the search engine's algorithm and therefore make the web page more likely to be a good match and ranked higher in the presented results.  Students need to be shown some of these mechanisms and be able to test them out in practice to be able to reflect on how they work to show an understanding of the mechanisms.

 

3.4 I can detect obvious bias in content

Candidates should be able to show an awareness and appreciation of bias in the content they find

Evidence: from assessor observations, content of learner portfolios.

Additional information and guidance for assessors:

  • Most search engines, especially the more popular ones, are businesses.  As such, they do not necessarily present information in a benign way, but in many cases present it in order to benefit the companies that pay them large sums of money for their service.  If the algorithms used can be tweaked in such a way to make certain large company's information always be highly ranked, then this is in the interests of the companies and search engine developers.  Students need to be made aware that these factors might lead to some bias in the content that they can access.  For example, large oil companies are likely to present more content which shows their environmental activities and planet saving ways, rather than the pollution and destruction to the environment their practices might cause.  These critical skills are important for students so that they are confident and competent users of the Internet and www.

 

3.5 I can use collaborative technologies

Candidates should be able to demonstrate the use and understanding of collaborative technologies

Evidence: from assessor observations, content of learner portfolios.

Additional information and guidance for assessors:

  • The increase in web based technologies and the advent of a more workable cloud means that students can work more collaboratively both in school and out of school.  The TLM Learning Site uses collaborative tools to allow students to communicate with each other and share ideas.  There are also fully collaborative systems such as Google Docs which are free to schools.  These systems allow students and staff to post documents and work on them and comment on them at the same time.  You can also use something like Hang Outs to discuss over video what you are working on together.
  • Students can use other subjects to display their knowledge and application of collaborative tools and do not have to use them in computing to meet the criterion.  Students in MFL can hold language based shared sessions with colleagues in other countries, or work on a geography project with schools in different parts of the UK.  At a very basic level, students can use email based systems to exchange ideas and information digitally and in a timely way.  A VLE is a useful way to collaborate with other students and learners.
  • If your school uses them, you could also use tools such as WizIQ or similar which allow you to teach remotely by sharing your desktop and a virtual interactive whiteboard.  
  • You could also get your student to set up a wiki page for other schools in the area of their local community, possibly as a local history or local interest site.
  • You can't use a social networking tool like Facebook as users have to be 13, but you could use other systems such as the open source system Diaspora or an ePortfolio system such as Mahara.

 

4. Use a range of technologies to support work, safely and responsibly

 

4.1 I can use the World Wide Web to support my work

Candidates should be able to show a range of skills in using the World Wide Web

Evidence: from assessor observations, content of learner portfolios.

Additional information and guidance for assessors:

  • This is another criterion which will work well with collaboration across different departments.  Students need to be able to show a range of work which clearly indicates they have used the www in an effective way and that they are comfortable in using it to find the right materials to support their work.  They should also show some basic idea of referencing their finds to show that they are aware of licensing issues and giving credit for other people's work.

 

4.2 I can select technologies for a particular purpose

Candidates should be able to show skill and aptitude in choosing the right tool for the right job

Evidence: from assessor observations, content of learner portfolios.

Additional information and guidance for assessors:

  • There are a multitude of good software packages on the Internet, including many which are cloud based.  Some of these systems are capable of doing many different things.  Some word processors are able to do some basic image manipulation, but it is not an ideal tool to create decent graphics for the web, and students need to show that they are aware of the file types and packages required.  Equally, you can make web pages in word processing systems, but the resulting html is full of extraneous code which makes the web pages impractical and inefficient.
  • Students need to be presented with a number of tasks which require them to show that they have thought about the correct tool to use, have used it in the way designed, and can discuss why this was the case.

 

4.3 I can combine technologies for a particular purpose

Candidates should be able to demonstrate they are comfortable in a mix of technologies and can combine them for a required end result

Evidence: from assessor observations, content of learner portfolios.

Additional information and guidance for assessors:

  • This criterion lends itself to a small project where students can use a number of software and hardware technologies in order to solve a problem.  They could use a word processor to write up a set of instructions for using something like Scratch or Logo, and then record a short sequence as a user guide.  They could use a tool such as MakeyMakey to create an instrument with fruit as the input devices to make a fun way for other students to learn how to play music.  This music could then be sampled by a digital software and remixed for another purpose.
  • The students need to be clear about what the purpose is and refer to the tools they are choosing to fit that purpose.  They can use a blog in order to reflect on their work and show their understanding.

 

4.4 I can use technologies to collect data

Candidates should be able to collect realistic and useful data using soft and hard technologies

Evidence: from assessor observations, content of learner portfolios.

Additional information and guidance for assessors:

  • Data for this criterion can be text or number based, but can also be audio or video based.  Perhaps students can collect data from people in their village who fought in WW2 as a historical record to be stored at the library.  They could so the same with a digital audio recorder if people do not want to be seen visually.  They could use a web based tool such as LimeSurvey to create a questionnaire or survey.  They could create a spreadsheet or database to collect a range of information in order to answer a specific question about their local area, perhaps related to a building project.
  • Using hardware based input devices, they could use some connections to something like Flowol or a weather system to collect data about changes in pressure and temperature.  This data could be displayed on a school website.   Students could place some infra red sensor cameras about the school to collect video data of what animals frequent their school out of hours.

 

4.5 I can use technologies to analyse, evaluate and present data

Candidates should be able to display some knowledge of being able to do something with the data collected from 4.4

Evidence: from assessor observations, content of learner portfolios.

Additional information and guidance for assessors:

  • Depending on the nature of the data collected in the previous criterion, will determine how they analyse it and look for answers with the data and turn it into information.  If it is part of an overall project, they can incorporate all of these skills together and finish by presenting the findings to their class, or other intended audience.  In terms of evidence, if the students create a presentation and incorporate some of their findings as part of an evaluation, this can be submitted as is for assessment.

 

4.6 I can relate data to useful information

Candidates should be able to demonstrate the value of data which then equates with information

Evidence: from assessor observations, content of learner portfolios.

Additional information and guidance for assessors:

  • Any piece of writing or series of numbers is data and does not necessarily equate to information.  The number sequence 2, 6, 14, 25, 34, 41 could mean anything, and is therefore just data.  However, if it was next weeks lottery numbers, it then becomes very valuable information.  Students need to show an awareness of this distinction.  It is no good them setting up a system to collect data only to find that the data they gathered is no more than that and can not be used as information.
  • Some activities to demonstrate and play with the idea of data and information would be useful, or if run as a project, some feedback from an audience about the value of the information collected and presented.

 

4.7 I can work safely and responsibly in a technological environment

Candidates should be able to demonstrate that they worked safely and responsibly

Evidence: from assessor observations, content of learner portfolios.

Additional information and guidance for assessors:

  • The nature of the data collected, could dictate the level of responsibility that students need to show.  If they are collecting data of a sensitive nature, they need to show that they are aware of why they need to be careful with it and the implications relating to law such as the Data Protection Act.
  • If collecting data using physical systems, they need to make sure they abide by any safety and security standards and recommendations and not work in a dangerous way; something that might lead to RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) for example.  Perhaps some class based teaching on the safe and responsible way to work with data collection will help students to appreciate what they are doing and how to do it properly.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email