We have seen a significant shift from face to face to virtual - an inevitable consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, the average number of event attendees increased by 400% compared to F2F meetings, and 41% of all teachers engaging from April 20 did so for the first time. We switched our annual conferences to the CS virtual showcase which attracted more than 8,500 attendees throughout June and July.
We want to maintain this momentum, to reach many more teachers and to build the community to reach every teacher of computing, digital and computer/ing science.
CAS provides essential support to the £84m DfE backed National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE). However, the digital community toolset that underpins the community sits outside the scope of the NCCE funding envelope.
We want to support teachers and leaders in every UK school and college to develop their digital and computing offer so that every child has access to a world-leading digital and computing education, that equips them with the skills to thrive in our digital world. But to do that we need your help.
CAS is made real amongst teachers, locally, supported by core online tools which deliver access to:
- News, articles, opinion, and updates
- Local Community meetings, led by volunteer Community Leaders
- A directory of members, including Community Leaders and subject matter experts
- Online discussions, advice, and guidance, enabling members to give and seek advice
- A collection of catalogued resources, most shared by teachers
- A series of online events including webinars, conferences, and meetups
- Tools to enable members to establish and lead communities
- Tools for communities to coordinate activities, communicate and collaborate
Geographical location of CAS Communities
Key: Green = Primary (93) Blue = Secondary (83) Yellow =
Mixed (72) Pink = SEND (4) Grey = Not defined (11)
There are on average 12,700 downloads of CAS resources each month, over the past 12 months there have been 152,535 resource downloads in total. The current digital community toolset lacks the flexibility or scalability that we require to ensure that the amazing distributed CAS community has the support required to achieve our common mission - to make the world a better place.
The initial phase, with financial support from Arm and BCS, included a design direction and architecture for a new digital community toolset.
BCS are now seeking financial support to help move to the second phase to bring about the change that will really help to cement the glue between individuals and groups right across the UK and beyond, and help us to reach more teachers, in more schools, right across the UK.
The following sections set out our approach and the functionality we have planned, following extensive consultation with the CAS community.
A clean, simple and easy to use site that provides features, content and functionality that supports the Computing teacher community, in line with refreshed branding.
We have designed
the site to reach three key audience groups, Primary Teachers who lead the
subject. Secondary/FE teachers and heads of department and supporters. We will
ensure that each audience group is supported in the right way, providing
flexibility as well as targeted links, the community can learn and inspire one
another in so many ways.
The new site
will enable us to track data and gain an improved understanding of our
community and their needs to allow us to further develop our support and offer.
Diversity and Inclusion
community has grown organically over a short number of years. We want to
ensure that, as our community continues to grow, the community and key roles
within our community reflect the diversity in schools and the wider teaching
Primary Teacher Audience
86% of all primary classroom teachers are female, 43% of all primary classroom teachers are female and under 35; 32% are female and under 30. Most primary teachers are not specialists in Computing. The new site will focus on providing content and features that meet the needs predominantly of Primary Subject Leads.
Since November 2018, we have seen an increase in the proportion of females joining CAS (49% of all CAS members are females) and an increase in the proportion members from primary schools.
Females are less likely to contribute to the forum discussions, 38% of those contributing on the forum are female, and 34% of those posting are female. Whilst females continue to be under-represented on the forum, they are now more likely to contribute to the forum than previously.
Relatively recently we have launched Primary and Secondary Facebook groups. The Facebook Primary group is the only area where females are over-represented with contributions and posts. In all other areas, the proportion of females posting is lower than the proportion of females in the group. The proportion of females contributing to the Secondary Facebook group is equivalent to the proportion of females within the group. Combined with the Primary FB data, this suggests that females feel more empowered to engage with the CAS community through the Facebook groups than through the existing forum.
Secondary Teacher Audience
40% of secondary computer science teachers are female. The new site will focus on providing content and features that meet the needs of all Secondary and FE Digital and Computing Teachers.
Different aspects of the site are integrated so that, for example, the events, community related, resource related, chat related, articles related, and blog related activities of a specific person are associated with that person on the website.
Each main section has the same sub-structure of six main headings:
Events are where CAS becomes real. They are frequently local, regular, and informal meet ups, usually held after school. Teachers meet up to share ideas, challenges and solutions. They share resources, support and encourage one another. But they can also be conferences or training sessions.
Events or meetups are increasingly taking place online, the Covid-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we live and work. Virtual meetups have been very popular, we’ve seen a 400% increase in engagement, and we need to build on this opportunity to continue to grow the community and to deepen engagement between members.
Events tend to be hosted, planned, and led by volunteer-CAS Community Leaders, supported by the CAS outreach team. They are generally free, although there are occasionally paid for events.
Events will be quick and easy to create, straightforward to advertise by sharing through other channels including social media and automated direct email to members of the community.
Events will be promoted on the site, eye-catching to users and simple and quick to book. Events will be promoted (regional/ personal) to target audiences. For users browsing the events section, filter & find options including region, content, presenter, phase (primary/secondary), and weekend/weekday will be included.
The solution will be flexible enough to deal with participants who turn up without having previously registered, and/or are not yet CAS members. Allowing them to quickly register and attend.
CAS Communities are usually geographically based, and led by volunteer CAS Community Leaders, but they can also be specialist interest groups, led by specific Members, focussed on an area of interest examples include Assessment, Inclusion and Research. There are 275 active CAS communities in England, as well as active communities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and 6 special interest groups.
It is a real challenge to bind together a large, disparate, geographically dispersed, community of volunteers, so that they can work together with a common purpose. The CAS digital toolset is the critical “glue”. It is a critical way in which we make our “community” into something tangible and real, something that actually helps teachers in their daily lives, and something that gives industry professionals a “way in” to help.
People are CAS. CAS connects members to one another, locally, regionally, nationally, internationally. It brings together academics, teachers, industry specialists and others. The website is a really important tool in providing individuals with the space in which to share their own expertise and knowledge, as well as to signpost those who need help and support. The new digital toolset will include tools that help people connect more deeply with one another, for example every member will have a blog and a resource collection that they can publish amongst members or more widely publicly.
Resources are created and shared by the community. There are over 4,000 resources in the current resource bank, our Content Review Panel have been supporting us with a refresh approach to ensure that resources are kept up -to-date and meet the priorities of serving teachers.
Resources will be easy to find and quick to access. Teachers will be encouraged to use resources, rate, and review them as well as upload their own.
Curated resources for specific audience groups will be presented in ‘collections’, for example those that provide a good place to start for teachers who are new to the subject. In addition, members will be able to select resources for their own collection which can be kept for personal use or shared publicly.
There are currently over 90,000 discussion threads on the forum, so online conversation is something that some of our members really value. However, the forum needs revitalising, to ensure it offers value to a broad range of members. A new, modern social forum will be included in the digital toolset. It will link directly to other key parts of the site including Communities, Resources and Blogs. And members will be able to opt to receive targeted notification, just as one would expect with any modern communication tool. Discussions will continue to take place in Facebook Groups, Twitter and other social channels. It is critical that CAS uses a wide range of social channels to reach out to members and potential members – taking the conversation to where the audience is.
And because the new digital toolset will be fully mobile responsive, we hope that there will be a continued growth in the engaging, positive and stimulating discussions amongst members of the community.
Articles and News
CAS is the voice of the Computing subject, the community has much to say on successes and celebrations as well as challenges and potential solutions. CAS is its people, so blogs are an important way of ensuring that individual contributions can be heard. Articles provide a channel for insightful, valuable thought leadership as well as highlighting good practice in communities. And news is an essential part of any communication plan.
Membership and joining experience
We want the joining experience to be simple, easy and quick. We want to encourage every teacher who visits the site to feel that they can get value from joining as a member.
We want to ensure that, as our community continues to grow, it reflects the diversity in schools and the wider teaching population. We will actively monitor diversity within our community and benchmark ourselves against other similar communities.
Migration of existing content and existing users:
All active user accounts will be migrated, including profiles and roles. We will be encouraging members to ensure their profile information is up to date, and there will be a managed campaign to alert members of the changes and support them to access their new tools.
We’ll find a way to offer access to an archive of the discussion forum, complete with discussion threads, and user associations. But the forum will be brand new without any prior content, ready for the community to dive straight in and start sharing.
We will be migrating all relevant resources, including all their images, people associations, downloadable and metadata. All Communities will be migrated with all people associations.
Events migration will need some careful planning. Future events may already have bookings when the old site is taken down. There may be a need for a one-off migration of events and bookings during a switch-over embargo. But we will work closely with Community Leaders throughout this phase to ensure we minimise any disruption.
We will not be migrating inactive member data, members that have not accessed the website for some time will be encouraged to re-engage before we complete the data deletion process.
We want the content to be easy to update, with articles, blogs, events, resources and chat happening many times every day by a large range of people. However, we want to simplify the content editing. We will have a content editor responsible for the overarching site contents.
We do not want to disenfranchise our wonderful volunteers, we want to ensure that they have the functionality they need and the processes in place to ensure that their contributions can be promoted to the right parts of the site, seamlessly.
Our aim is to launch the new site early in 2021.