Students - How to use this MOOC

Hello and welcome to exa.foundation's Moodle course for OCR GCSE (9-1) Computer Science J276. My name is Alan O'Donohoe and I've based this course on a strategy that I successfully used with my GCSE classes over 4 years.

The new GCSE (J276) contains lots of content for you to learn and understand. This Moodle course has been designed so that you can learn the topics required by the exam board at your own pace and spend more time in lessons on the practical elements of the course, eg. programming and problem-solving.

There are 3 steps to follow using this course that I call U.S.A. (Understand. Summarise. Answer)

  • Understand - in your own time, you read resources provided, books, website content and watch videos to help you understand each topic.
  • Summarise - you then summarise what you have learnt and understood using visual notes.
  • Answer - every few lessons in class, your teacher will ask you to answer some exam questions. Some of these will be Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) on this course, others will be formal written responses that you answer in your exercise book.

This video I created a few years ago explains how it works, I hope to record a new version soon. It was created for parents of children I taught at my school following an older version of this GCSE course.


Each week your teacher will ask you to Understand and Summarise one or two topics. Your teacher will tell you which topics and explain how they expect you to complete them. Then every few lessons, they will ask you to Answer some questions based on these topics to see how effectively you have been understanding the topics.

Here are some important points for you to consider:

  • Scope of resources - some of the resources I've listed only barely touch upon the topic requirements, while others go into a great amount of depth. Some are better than others at explaining different concepts. If you are committed to achieve the best results, you should definitely use more than one resource to help you for each topic.
  • Follow the references carefully - some jump about from one page to another, so try to only focus on the topic that you are actually required to for each topic, otherwise you'll become frustrated at the amount you need to understand.
  • Avoid Distractions - it is very tempting when using online resources like webpages and videos to read other topics that are not relevant to the topic you are working on. It's much easier to be tempted online than when reading a book. Try to be aware when this happens and have a strategy to use, maybe you could make a list of interesting things to look at after you have understood and summarised.
  • Video Sections - if you're watching a video clip, make sure to only watch the section highlighted eg. 2:33 to 4:10 This will save you some time as some of the video clips are 20 minutes or longer, but the section you need to watch might be only 2 minutes long. With a video clip you can replay the relevant section until you understand it.
  • Do not copy - when you are summarising, you need to create visual notes. These are diagrams, sketches and doodles that illustrate the topic you are learning. If you simply copy from the resource - you will not learn as much.
  • Summarising is a skill - it will take practice to perfect, but doing so will really help you to learn the topics. Simply copying words from a website to your book will not really help you at all.
  • If in doubt - ask your teacher. Sometimes, no matter how much you try to understand a topic, you will find it a struggle. Ask your teacher to explain it to you.

Last modified: Saturday, 27 August 2016, 9:05 AM