Published: 01 July 2020

Undergraduates deliver virtual masterclass for school students

When Covid-19 meant that they could no longer go into schools to complete their Computer Science Education module, undergraduates instead delivered interactive online webinars which have been very well received by school students.

Computing webinar screenshot
Screenshot from one of the computing webinars.

Nine third year computer science students took part in the webinars, which were organised in collaboration with Surrey’s Widening Participation and Outreach team. Aimed at giving students in years 7 to 9 and 10 to 11 a greater understanding of the basic concepts of computer science, the webinar lessons were used by students in schools across Surrey and Hampshire.

Among the topics the undergraduates covered were the typical number bases found in computer science and how to convert between decimal, binary and hexadecimal format, helping participants to understand how computers store information.

The webinars were organised as an alternative to the in-school assessment students complete as part of the optional third year Computer Science Education module. Designed for students with an interest in entering teaching, the module usually involves a placement in a local secondary school or college.

While the experience of teaching to students they could not see or hear was challenging, the group encouraged participants to ask questions through Zoom’s chat feature which helped them to gauge students’ understanding and adjust the lesson accordingly.

Student Luke McCabe said:

“During these difficult times, it is imperative to engage with students. The simple act of showing our face creates a human connection, which lets the students know that they are not alone in their studies.”

Fellow student Liam Apostolides commented: “I enjoyed doing this module and found the placement interesting. It was very different to anything I had ever done before in my education or work experience, and I’m grateful for the opportunity I was given.”

In feedback after the webinars, 81 per cent of students agreed that they now had a better understanding of computer science, 91 per cent said they had learnt something new, and 79 per cent had enjoyed the webinar style of learning.

Stella Kazamia, Teaching Fellow, said: “These sessions were introduced as an alternative assessment because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but students went above and beyond the expectations of the assessment. They did an amazing job and the feedback has been extremely positive.”


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