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Year 9 computer science question

(17 Posts)
Neolara Mon 02-Oct-17 21:42:23

My dd tells me that they spent today's 45 minute computing lesson learning how to search using google. I would have expected them to a) have learned that in Year 7 or possibly primary school and b) be spending their time learning how to code. Before I talk to the school, I just wanted to check what others think about this. If you teach computing at school I would be particular interested in your views.

KittyVonCatsington Mon 02-Oct-17 21:46:50

Unusual yes. Depends how used. It can be used to show logic in search using AND OR and NOT and might have been used as a pre-cursor to Binary Logic. Could also have been used to show how Google's famous PageRank algorithm works (is on the A Level syllabus)
No harm in asking. If I had a reason for doing something in one of my lessons, I would have no hesitation in justifying it with reasons.

karalime Mon 02-Oct-17 21:48:04

When I was at university a few years ago I had a seminar on using Google - how to make your search more specific to get the results you want, how to decide if it's a good source etc. It was quite useful and I did learn a few things.

KittyVonCatsington Mon 02-Oct-17 21:51:43

Exactly, keralime
You would be surprised, OP, how poorly young people are at 'Googling' efficiently. It is a skill and learning how something works, that you use everyday, can be a useful skill. Besides, Computer Science is not just 'coding'. In fact, it is only 20% of the GCSE and A Level.

BossyBitch Mon 02-Oct-17 21:58:17

I'm in tech (a management role, TBH, but I do have two relevant degrees) and I actually think it's a good idea if the kind of thing karalime mentioned was covered.

It never ceases to amaze me just how poor people's (and I mean people in my industry!) basic computing skills actually are. I've met programmers with years of experience who are unable to use basic formulae in Excel.

I'm also geerally a bit ambivalent about the 'everyone learning how to code' thing. Yes, it's technically a great idea - but some of the 'approachable' stuff I've seen is very much geared at teaching how to do stuff as opposed to understanding, on a fundamental level, how computers actually work. And what results are people who can code but don't understand why what they're typing makes a machine do something or other. Which is a problem once they end up having to analyse complex, real-life problems. It's also why, as CS undergrads, they made us do 'pointless' stuff such as converting things into binary on paper and manually allocate and de-allocate memory when there were perfectly good tools to take care of it.

Rant over. Long story short, I'm kind of a fan of teaching basics!

noblegiraffe Mon 02-Oct-17 22:02:10

It's amazing how crap people in general are at using Google or other search engines. I'd love a 45 minute lesson on how to use it really effectively.

Hopefully they did actually learn some useful stuff and weren't just plonked in front of a computer with no actual teaching.

charlmum60 Mon 02-Oct-17 22:03:39

My daughter is doing year 11 Computer Science (GCSE)and as per someone else's post only 20% is coding and I think allot of children taking Computer Science have a shock when they realise this ....allot of it is in my daughter's words "boring theory" and it took her a while to accept this ...she's fine now - her coding has always been strong but this wont get her a high grade GCSE.

MissEliza Mon 02-Oct-17 22:37:58

Ds1 took computer science GCSE because he loved coding. It was just a small part of it. He totally regretted taking the course.

cricketballs Tue 03-Oct-17 06:17:50

The problem with the drive to computing for all, starting coding in primary is the loss of basic skills.

I teach ICT to KS3 (haven't touched proper computing for over 20 years so GCSE is taught by more recent specialists!). In a recent baseline test with year 7 they could annotate perfectly a block of scratch code but haven't got a clue what a cell reference is, the vast majority can't use 2 keys at the same time as they are far to used to a touch screen keyboard and therefore use caps lock for one capital letter.

But as kitty pointed out not only could it have been a lesson to improve efficiency when searching it is also a good tool to introduce logic

KittyVonCatsington Tue 03-Oct-17 06:45:49

^it's crazy how quickly those basic skills go if not taught, eh cricketballs?!
This Sept, I have had three separate Year 7s from different Primary Schools never having touched a mouse before (because they don't have them at home and their schools only had Tablets.) Spending time teaching them to left/right click, double slick and scroll took time away from that lesson, as I just didn't expect it and with only one lesson a week, I am finding I am having to stop and demo basic features like sending an email. I can see why the OP's school may have got fed up and done this type of lesson in Year 9.

Gove has played an almighty own goal here by taking away ICT digital skills and replacing with only Computing based ones (if you follow the KS3 National Curriculum) when every single legacy ICT teacher argued that we needed both. <face palm>

cricketballs Tue 03-Oct-17 06:59:16

Kitty it has become a major issue for us, especially the mouse skills! We have an intake from more than 5 primaries and whilst one of the primary schools have still kept actual machines, the rest are using tablets....

In all the years I have been teaching I have never had to go back to such basics for year 7, sometimes a reminder but never first time teaching of spreadsheets; so whilst they can put together a block of code in scratch etc and edit a video on a tablet - ask them to open Word and type in some text with a centred heading set in bold and oh boy do we have problems!

Therefore we don't follow the set KS3 curriculum and we focus year 7 on ICT and then bring in CS in year 8

sashh Tue 03-Oct-17 07:20:34

Learning how to do advanced searches is useful. Also learning which are reliable sources and which to avoid.

Google scholar is quite nice to use and you can also look at how google data mines and produces adverts specific to you and comparing google chrome with Tor if you want to be anonymous rather than using 'private browsing'. How anything put online is there forever so you might think the pic of you at a party with doggy ears on is funny but will it still be funny when you are looking for a job.

Why does everyone (almost) use google as a search engine? What are they alternatives? What is the difference between a search engine and a browser? (common GCSE question, name a web browser - google chrome, internet explorer, Tor all get you the marks, google doesn't).

What algorithms does google use? Can you create your own algorithm for searching? What is an algorithm (also a GCSE question).

Cookies, what they are,how they are used, when should you delete them if at all?

Plagiarism - useful for kids to know if they are cheating, lots think changing a couple of words makes something 'theirs'.

Online safety.

This could also spiral off into discussion about Edward Snowden and the US data collection and who the US considers a spy (answer anyone working for a foreign government so teachers in state schools are fair game).

Lots of things that can also be used in other lessons.

RedSkyAtNight Tue 03-Oct-17 07:54:44

Most people have no clue how to search effectively for something they need to find out if if it's more than (say) just searching for a customer's website.

Potentially the lesson also covered how spiders work, how Google indexes search terms and optimising your own site. I'd be very surprised if they literally spent the whole lesson putting simple search terms into Google.

Rainybo Tue 03-Oct-17 07:59:03

Perfectly reasonable lesson - I’m sure it was a lot more than putting a search term in Google and pressing go!

This is covered at FE and HE level too.

brownfang Tue 03-Oct-17 13:18:13

just look at the queries you get on MN sometimes, which someone could sort quicker themselves with a good search engine phrase.

KittyVonCatsington Wed 04-Oct-17 19:26:13

I wonder if the OP doesn't like these responses and that's why they haven't replied?!

Neolara Thu 05-Oct-17 22:29:55

Hello, I'm back! Got distracted by life. Thank you everyone for your thoughts. Sounds like maybe it wasn't such a pointless lesson after all then. I will have to quiz dd a bit more on what else they did.

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