Tag Archives: Ada Computer Science

Careers in computer science: Two perspectives

Post Syndicated from Dan Fisher original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/careers-in-computer-science-two-perspectives/

As educators, it’s important that we showcase the wide range of career opportunities available in the field of computing, not only to inspire learners, but also to help them feel sure they’re choosing to study a subject that is useful for their future. For example, a survey from the BBC in September 2023 found that more than a quarter of UK teenagers often feel anxious, with “exams and school life” among the main causes. To help young people chart their career paths, we recently hosted two live webinars for National Careers Week in the UK.

Our goal for the webinars was to highlight the breadth of careers within computing and to provide insights from professionals who are pursuing their own diverse and rewarding paths. Each webinar featured engaging discussions and an interactive Q&A session with learners who use our Ada Computer Science platform. The learners could ask their own questions to get firsthand knowledge and perspectives from our guest speakers.

Our guest speakers

Jess Van Brummelen is a Human–Computer Interaction Research Scientist at Niantic, the video games company behind augmented reality game Pokémon Go. After developing an interest in programming during her undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering, she went on to complete a Master’s degree and PhD in computer science at MIT.

Ashley Edwards is a Senior Research Scientist at Google DeepMind, working on reinforcement learning. She received her PhD in 2019 from Georgia Tech, spent time as an intern at Google Brain, and worked as a research scientist at Uber AI Labs.

You can read extracts from our interviews with Jess and Ashley and watch the full videos below. Teachers have contacted us to say they’ll be using the webinars for careers-focused sessions with their students. We hope you will do the same!

Please note that we have edited the extracts below to add clarity.

Jess Van Brummelen

Jessica Van Brummelen.

Hi Jess. What advice would you give to a student who is thinking about a career in human–computer interaction in the gaming industry?

In terms of HCI and gaming, I’d actually recommend that you keep gaming! It’s a small part of my job but it’s really important to understand what’s fun and enjoyable in games. Not only that; gaming can be great for learning to problem-solve — there’s been all sorts of research on the positive impact of gaming.

A second thing, going back to how I felt in my mechanical engineering classes, I really felt like an ‘other’ and not someone who is the standard computer scientist or engineer. I would encourage students to pursue their dreams anyway because it’s so important to have diversity in these types of careers, especially technology, because it goes out to so many different people and it can really affect society. It’s really important that the people who make it come from many different backgrounds and cultures so we can create technology that is better for everyone.

[From Owen, a student on the livestream] What’s the most impossible idea you’ve come up with while working at Niantic?

I’m currently publishing a paper addressing the question, ‘Can we guide people without using anything visual on their phone?’ That means using audio and haptic (technology that transmits information via touch, e.g. vibrations) prompts instead. We tried out different commands where the phone said ‘turn left’ and ‘turn right’, but we really wanted to test how to guide someone more specifically in a game environment. For example, if there was a hidden object on a wall in a game that a person couldn’t see, could we guide them to that object while they’re walking? So I ran a study where I guided people to scan a statue by moving around it. Scanning is the process of using the camera on your phone to scan an object in real life, which is then reconstructed on your phone. Scanning objects can trigger other augmented reality experiences within a game. For example, you might scan a real-life box in a room and this might trigger an animation of that box opening to reveal a secret within the game. We tested a lot of different things. For example, test subjects listened to music as they were walking and when they were on the right path, the music sounded really good. But when they were off the path, it sounded terrible. So it helped them to look for the right path. Then if you were pointing the phone in the wrong direction for scanning objects, you would get warning vibrations on the phone. So we did the study and we were hoping it would improve safety. It turns out it was neutral on improving safety — I think this is because it was such a novel system. People weren’t used to using it and still bumped into things! But it did make people better at scanning the objects, which was interesting.

Watch Jess’s full interview:

Ashley Edwards

Ashley Edwards.

Hi Ashley. Is there something you studied in school that you found to be more useful now than you ever thought it would be?

Maths! I always enjoyed doing maths, but I didn’t realise I would need it as a computer scientist. You see it popping up all the time, especially in machine learning. Having a strong knowledge of calculus and linear algebra is really helpful.

How do you train an AI model using machine learning

You start by asking the question, ‘What is the problem I’m trying to solve?’ Then typically you need input data and the outputs you want to achieve, so you ask two more questions, ‘What data do I want to come in?’ and ‘What do I want to come out?’ Let’s say you decide to use a supervised learning model (a category of machine learning where labelled data sets are used to train algorithms to detect patterns and predict outcomes) to predict whether a photo contains a cat. You train the model using a giant set of images with labels that say either ‘This is a cat’ or ‘This isn’t a cat’. By training the model with the images, you get to a point where your model can analyse the features of any image and predict whether it contains a cat or not.

In my field of research, I work on something called reinforcement learning, which is where you train your model through trial and error and the use of ‘rewards’. Let’s imagine we are trying to train a robot. We might write a program that tells the robot, ‘I am going to give you a reward if you take the right step forward and it’s going to be a positive reward. If you fall over, I’m going to give you a negative reward.’ So you train the robot to prioritise the right behaviours to optimise the rewards it’s getting.

[From a student] Will I still need to learn to code in the future?

I think it is going to be very different in the future, but we’ll still need to learn how to build different types of algorithms and we’re going to need to understand the concepts behind coding as well. We’ll still need to ask questions like, ‘What is it that I want to build?’ and ‘Is this actually doing the correct thing?’

Watch Ashley’s full interview:

Broadening access

Jess and Ashley are forging successful careers not only through a combination of smart choices, hard work, talent, and a passion for technology; they also had access to opportunities to discover their passion and receive an education in this field. Too many young people around the world still don’t have these opportunities.

That is why we provide free resources and training to help schools broaden access to computing education. For example, our free learning platform, Ada Computer Science, provides students aged 14 to 19 with high-quality computing resources and interactive questions, written by experts from our team. To learn more, visit adacomputerscience.org.

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How we’re creating more impact with Ada Computer Science

Post Syndicated from Ben Durbin original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/how-were-creating-more-impact-with-ada-computer-science/

We offer Ada Computer Science as a platform to support educators and learners alike. But we don’t take its usefulness for granted: as part of our commitment to impact, we regularly gather user feedback and evaluate all of our products, and Ada is no exception. In this blog, we share some of the feedback we’ve gathered from surveys and interviews with the people using Ada.

A secondary school age learner in a computing classroom.

What’s new on Ada?

Ada Computer Science is our online learning platform designed for teachers, students, and anyone interested in learning about computer science. If you’re teaching or studying a computer science qualification at school, you can use Ada Computer Science for classwork, homework, and revision. 

Launched last year as a partnership between us and the University of Cambridge, Ada’s comprehensive resources cover topics like algorithms, data structures, computational thinking, and cybersecurity. It also includes 1,000 self-marking questions, which both teachers and students can use to assess their knowledge and understanding. 

Throughout 2023, we continued to develop the support Ada offers. For example, we: 

  • Added over 100 new questions
  • Expanded code specimens to cover Java and Visual Basic as well as Python and C#
  • Added an integrated way of learning about databases through writing and executing SQL
  • Incorporated a beta version of an embedded Python editor with the ability to run code and compare the output with correct solutions 

A few weeks ago we launched two all-new topics about artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

So far, all the content on Ada Computer Science is mapped to GCSE and A level exam boards in England, and we’ve just released new resources for the Scottish Qualification Authority’s Computer Systems area of study to support students in Scotland with their National 5 and Higher qualifications.

Who is using Ada?

Ada is being used by a wide variety of users, from at least 127 countries all across the globe. Countries where Ada is most popular include the UK, US, Canada, Australia, Brazil, India, China, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, China, Myanmar, and Indonesia.

Children in a Code Club in India.

Just over half of students using Ada are completing work set by their teacher. However, there are also substantial numbers of young people benefitting from using Ada for their own independent learning. So far, over half a million question attempts have been made on the platform.

How are people using Ada?

Students use Ada for a wide variety of purposes. The most common response in our survey was for revision, but students also use it to complete work set by teachers, to learn new concepts, and to check their understanding of computer science concepts.

Teachers also use Ada for a combination of their own learning, in the classroom with their students, and for setting work outside of lessons. They told us that they value Ada as a source of pre-made questions.

“I like having a bank of questions as a teacher. It’s tiring to create more. I like that I can use the finder and create questions very quickly.” — Computer science teacher, A level

“I like the structure of how it [Ada] is put together. [Resources] are really easy to find and being able to sort by exam board makes it really useful because… at A level there is a huge difference between exam boards.” — GCSE and A level teacher

What feedback are people giving about Ada?

Students and teachers alike were very positive about the quality and usefulness of Ada Computer Science. Overall, 89% of students responding to our survey agreed that Ada is useful for helping them to learn about computer science, and 93% of teachers agreed that it is high quality.

“The impact for me was just having a resource that I felt I always could trust.” — Head of Computer Science

A graph showing that students and teachers consider Ada Computer Science to be useful and high quality.

Most teachers also reported that using Ada reduces their workload, saving an average of 3 hours per week.

“[Quizzes] are the most useful because it’s the biggest time saving…especially having them nicely self-marked as well.” — GCSE and A level computer science teacher

Even more encouragingly, Ada users report a positive impact on their knowledge, skills, and attitudes to computer science. Teachers report that, as a result of using Ada, their computer science subject knowledge and their confidence in teaching has increased, and report similar benefits for their students.

“They can easily…recap and see how they’ve been getting on with the different topic areas.” — GCSE and A level computer science teacher

“I see they’re answering the questions and learning things without really realising it, which is quite nice.” — GCSE and A level computer science teacher

How do we use people’s feedback to improve the platform?

Our content team is made up of experienced computer science teachers, and we’re always updating the site in response to feedback from the teachers and students who use our resources. We receive feedback through support tickets, and we have a monthly meeting where we comb through every wrong answer that students entered to help us identify new misconceptions. We then use all of this to improve the content, and the feedback we give students on the platform.

A computer science teacher sits with students at computers in a classroom.

We’d love to hear from you

We’ll be conducting another round of surveys later this year, so when you see the link, please fill in the form. In the meantime, if you have any feedback or suggestions for improvements, please get in touch.

And if you’ve not signed up to Ada yet as a teacher or student, you can take a look right now over at adacomputerscience.org

The post How we’re creating more impact with Ada Computer Science appeared first on Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Launching Ada Computer Science, the new platform for learning about computer science

Post Syndicated from Duncan Maidens original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/ada-computer-science/

We are excited to launch Ada Computer Science, the new online learning platform for teachers, students, and anyone interested in learning about computer science.

Ada Computer Science logo on dark background.

With the rapid advances being made in AI systems and chatbots built on large language models, such as ChatGPT, it’s more important than ever that all young people understand the fundamentals of computer science. 

Our aim is to enable young people all over the world to learn about computer science through providing access to free, high-quality and engaging resources that can be used by both students and teachers.

A female computing educator with three female students at laptops in a classroom.

A partnership between the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the University of Cambridge, Ada Computer Science offers comprehensive resources covering everything from algorithms and data structures to computational thinking and cybersecurity. It also has nearly 1000 rigorously researched and automatically marked interactive questions to test your understanding. Ada Computer Science is improving all the time, with new content developed in response to user feedback and the latest research. Whatever your interest in computer science, Ada is the place for you.

A teenager learning computer science.

If you’re teaching or studying a computer science qualification at school, you can use Ada Computer Science for classwork, homework, and revision. Computer science teachers can select questions to set as assignments for their students and have the assignments marked directly. The assignment results help you and your students understand how well they have grasped the key concepts and highlights areas where they would benefit from further tuition. Students can learn with the help of written materials, concept illustrations, and videos, and they can test their knowledge and prepare for exams.

A comprehensive resource for computing education

Ada Computer Science builds on work we’ve done to support the English school system as part of the National Centre for Computing Education, funded by the Department for Education.

The topics on the website map to exam board specifications for England’s Computer Science GCSE and A level, and will map to other curricula in the future.

A teenager learning computer science.

In addition, we want to make it easy for educators and learners across the globe to use Ada Computer Science. That’s why each topic is aligned to our own comprehensive taxonomy of computing content for education, which is independent of the English curriculum, and organises the content into 11 strands, including programming, computing systems, data and information, artificial intelligence, creating media, and societal impacts of digital technology.

If you are interested in how we can specifically adapt Ada Computer Science for your region, exam specification, or specialist area, please contact us.

Why use Ada Computer Science at school?

Ada Computer Science enables teachers to:

  • Plan lessons around high-quality content
  • Set self-marking homework questions
  • Pinpoint areas to work on with students
  • Manage students’ progress in a personal markbook

Students get:

  • Free computer science resources, written by specialist teachers
  • A huge bank of interactive questions, designed to support learning
  • A powerful revision tool for exams
  • Access wherever and whenever you want

In addition:

  • The topics include real code examples in Python, Java, VB, and C#
  • The live code editor features interactive coding tasks in Python
  • Quizzes make it quick and easy to set work

Get started with Ada Computer Science today by visiting adacomputerscience.org.

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