Free workshop for Computing teachers in London with a CHI+MED flavour (from Paul Curzon of @cs4fn/ @TeachingLDNComp)

As part of the Teaching London Computing project (which supports those who are delivering the new Computing curriculum in schools) CHI+MED’s Prof Paul Curzon (see biography at end) will be giving a FREE workshop on “Computational thinking: it’s about people too” next Friday afternoon at 4pm at Queen Mary University of London.

This is part of a series of five workshops which demonstrate engaging ways of introducing programming topics and computational thinking into the school classroom, using simple materials in an ‘unplugged’ style.

There will be an earlier workshop (workshop A) at 2pm, on “Programming unplugged: learning programming without computers“, but it is the second (workshop B) which is of particular relevance to CHI+MED.

Who are the workshops for?
The workshops are aimed at those who are currently (or who are about to begin) teaching the Computing curricula (particularly GCSE and A-level, though the information in the workshops has been used with younger children). As Teaching London Computing is funded by the Mayor of London they will prioritise those who are currently teaching in London schools. The workshops are not suitable for school pupils though as the events are about how to introduce computing concepts into the classroom.
Contact Jo Brodie ( for further information.

Workshop A: Programming unplugged: learning programming without computers
2.00-3.30pm (free Eventbrite tickets)

It’s easy to assume that programming is something you have to learn at a computer but if you want your students to deeply understand programming concepts, rather than blindly getting programs to work then unplugged techniques can work really well to get students started. We will see how to program a robot face that is made of students, look at a simple way to give a deep understanding of how variables work by making them physical, and see how to compile programs onto your class instead of onto a computer.

Session material This session will cover:

  • Inspiring ways to introduce programming away from computers.
  • What is a variable?
  • How does assignment work?
  • Programming simple objects
  • Introducing flow of control and if statements

Workshop B: Computational thinking: it’s about people too
4pm-5.30pm (free Eventbrite tickets)

Computing is not just about technology, it is about understanding people too. When we solve computing problems we are solving them for people. Computational thinking is the general group of problem solving skills that students learn as a result of studying computing. Often this is equated with algorithmic thinking – a direct result of learning to program. However it just as important to make programs usable by people – or they won’t be used. We will see how magic gives a fun way to introduce these ideas and how a simple game demonstrates why graphical user interfaces are effective.

This session is in collaboration with cropped-chi-med-logo.png, an EPSRC-funded project about making medical devices safer.

Session material This session will cover:

  • computational thinking: understanding people
  • human computer interaction
  • why GUIs are better than text-based interfaces
  • The importance of data structures

Paul Curzon is a Professor of Computer Science at Queen Mary University of London. He runs the cs4fn ‘Computer Science for Fun’ (cs4fn) project, It aims to inspire school students about computer science through a series of free magazines, website and school shows. He regularly gives such shows around the UK as well as continuous professional development talks to teachers about the cs4fn approach to teaching. He is Director of the Teaching London Computing Project. He was made a UK National Teaching Fellow in 2010 in recognition of his excellence in teaching and outreach, was a finalist in the 2009 Times Higher Education Innovative Teacher of the year award and has twice won the student nominated Queen Mary award for excellence in teaching.

Paul is also one of the principal investigators for the CHI+MED project, which operates across several universities in the UK.

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