What's New in Switched on Computing 3rd Edition

Nov 16, 2020

Miles Berry

The new edition of Switched On Computing includes some significant new content. The Teachers’ Guides have been substantially rewritten to make the scheme more accessible than ever to non-specialist teachers, whilst retaining the flexibility that expert computing leads might look for to make the scheme their own. Alongside the new lesson plans, extensive online support now includes step-by-step teaching slides and lesson walk-throughs, CPD videos and online quizzes to check pupils’ understanding at the end of each unit.

We’ve taken the opportunity to bring all the units up to date, with a focus on tablets and cloud based software such as Google Apps for Education and Office 365, as well as creating some brand new units for each year group.

Year 1’s We Are Painters uses Brushes Redux and Autodesk Sketchbook on the iPad to explore the work of some great 20th century artists. Pupils use the power and flexibility of digital painting and drawing to create their own work inspired by Rothko, Kandinsky, Picasso, Matisse, Opie and Mondrian, building cultural literacy alongside technology and fine motor skills.

Stop motion animation using Stop Motion Studio is the focus for Year 2’s We Are Animators, with pupils taking inspiration from their studies elsewhere in the curriculum to plan and make a short animated cartoon. There’s much scope here for creativity, but pupils also learn about how images and audio are represented and can be combined to make video, and the importance of algorithmic thinking before turning to technology.

The new Year 3 unit, We Are Who We Are, emphasises pupils’ sense of personal identity, alongside developing their fluency in making, narrating and sharing presentations drawing on their own and Creative Commons multimedia assets. More importantly, the unit includes a powerful message about circles of trust, teaching pupils to think carefully about what content, if any, can be shared with family, classmates, the wider school community and random strangers on the internet.

This edition of Switched On Computing sees more emphasis on physical computing, with Year 4 and Year 6 units on creating programs for the BBC micro:bit. In Year 4’s We Are Makers, pupils learn about this simple bare circuit board computer, creating programs to keep track of the score at a match, to play rock-paper-scissors and to create a digital sorting hat, before going on to develop their own project. In Year 6, We Are Toy Makers, they apply their computing and design and technology skills by creating a smart, interactive toy powered by a micro:bit.

In Year 5, We Are VR Designers, pupils learn about virtual and augmented reality, exploring locations through Google’s Streetview, creating their own 360º photospheres and then experimenting with, and designing their own, interactive VR or AR scenes in Cospaces.

Year 6 extends pupils’ computer science knowledge through the new We Are AI Developers unit, learn about decision tree classifiers and neural nets, experiment with speech and image recognition and add sentiment analysis to Scratch programs. They program their own self-driving car, and use this to consider some of the ethical questions raised by AI.

Alongside all the great new content, we’ve retained the features and content that has made Switched On Computing such as a success in the past: comprehensive coverage of the national curriculum, some great cross-curricular links and plenty of opportunities for creativity, critical thinking and collaboration.

Originally published on the Rising Stars blog