Developing Isaac CS GCSE
Isaac Computer Science is a free online platform with concept-led exam board content and a large number of questions to test students’ knowledge and understanding. It previously catered solely for A-level students, but the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the University of Cambridge have been working hard to bring GCSE content to the platform, with the initial launch in January 2022. The good news is that all the features that were previously available to A-level learners will now be available to GCSE learners too, plus some other exciting developments for everyone, including teachers! Content creators have been busy curating material that meets the needs of all learners, regardless of which examination board’s specification they are following. It is packed with explainer videos, walk-through demonstrations, animations, and questions to support learners on their computer science journey. Learners can really develop their understanding and get a sense of their progress, tackling relevant problems of a similar level of difficulty to those they will face in an examination.
New features for all
There is a large overlap in the concepts covered at A level and GCSE, which the platform is using to its advantage with the integration of stage and board views. In the board view option, users will only see content that is applicable to the examination board they have indicated they are studying. This is to ensure that topics are tailored to the subtle nuances of each examination board. The stage view option is useful for both GCSE and A-level students: if a GCSE learner wants to see what is coming up at AS, or how a topic is different at an advanced level, they can choose to see content relevant to that stage. Likewise, an A-level student could go back and look at the fundamentals of a topic by viewing the GCSE content. Teachers will benefit from these different views too, as they are able to select more than one examination board in their profile. This will be useful if a teacher is teaching OCR at GCSE and AQA at A level, for example. They can easily toggle between content that is relevant to their current class, without having to dig out specifications or individual schemes of work to surface that subtly different content.
Personalised learning experiences
Question levelling is another brand-new feature that has been introduced. There are hundreds of A-level questions, with hundreds of GCSE questions in the pipeline. Just like content, questions can be useful for all users at differing levels of ability. There will be three levels of practice (P) questions, and three levels of challenge (C) questions. The content team has spent a considerable amount of time tagging all the questions. For instance, a question tagged C2 at GCSE could also be tagged as a P1 question at A level. Using this system, learners effectively have access to a huge bank of questions in which they can select the level of difficulty and topic. As before, the feedback supplied to learners when they submit a wrong answer is specific to the wrong answer they gave, offering some advice on why that answer is wrong, or providing a hint on how they should proceed.
Currently, 20 percent of the platform’s new GCSE content is live, and this should increase to 50 percent by the end of March 2022. By August 2022, Isaac Computer Science will be a wealth of interlinked content to help GCSE and A-level learners alike develop their subject knowledge and computer science problem-solving skills, and help teachers to directly access related lesson content and professional development opportunities.