exa.foundation - a Year in Review

Exploring with exa.foundation

This Tuesday, we ran the last of this year’s exa.foundation-branded #exabits events, exploring the teaching of programming, algorithms and Computational Thinking for GCSE Computer Science, introducing teachers to new concepts and approaches. One of the many CPD events we’ve run this year, last night saw a fantastic turnout, with local teachers heading over to Rainhill High in Prescot for a full evening of classroom support.

Founded two years ago to Inspire, Support and Promote Computing in schools, our exa.foundation is a not-for-profit branch of our organisation, running hundreds of events every year for students, teachers and hobby clubs across the UK.

While our foundation’s still set to help out at some great events this year, including next week’s STEM Learning Python camp in York, our programme for this year has largely come to an end. As we get ready to launch next year’s programme, we’re taking a look back through some of the biggest news and events from our 2017:

exa.foundation activities across 2017

Across this year, we’ve seen some major successes. In total, we’ve run, or helped out with, a full 109 events, attended by well over 1000 people across the last 12 months. By far the biggest of these events was our #exabytes17 conference, held on the 7th of July in Bradford’s fantastic Midland Hotel.

A look at the audience from the keynote session of #exabytes17

Now in its second year, #exabytes is a huge event, focused on exploring the use of technology in the classroom, with dozens of sessions covering everything from BBC micro:bit and Raspberry Pi to VR, cybersecurity and far more. Following last year’s #exabytes, we made a range of changes to make sure that everything across the show ran even smoother - with next year in sight, we’ll be making #exabytes18 an even more impressive show.

Getting ready for next year's #exabytes18 conference

In September 2016, we launched the exa.foundation MOOC, a great online course designed to support a flipped learning approach to the GCSE J276 Computer Science curriculum, provided free to Exa connectivity customers (and at a low cost for non-customers).

Over a little more than a year, our MOOC has really taken off - we hit a full 10,000 users in time for our first anniversary, and have recently reached another major milestone, with a full 15,000 registered MOOC users. In context, there’s roughly 60,000 candidates registering for Computer Science GCSEs (not just the J276 specification we cover) per year, so our MOOC is providing support to a huge percentage of GCSE students - a number which we hope to keep on improving!

Recently, we’ve launched some quality of life changes for the MOOC - the course is now simpler to access, allows teachers to auto-generate classes rather than creating extensive lists manually, and has cut out a lot of delays for teachers adding new students.

At practically every exa.foundation event, we collect feedback from our visitors, making sure that everyone gets the most that they can from the time they spend with our foundation. We’re proud to have had some truly excellent feedback over the year - some of the forms from this year’s last session are shown below (keep in mind that 1 is the most positive result on our forms).

Some of the great feedback we received at our last exa.foundation event this year

What’s Happening in 2018?

Along with our ongoing programme of #exabits events (and more), the first major event for Exa in 2018 is the Bett Show, the UK’s largest edtech show. Along with the promotion possibilities for Exa Networks itself, there’s a lot of opportunities for exa.foundation, as Bett offers some truly excellent networking opportunities - we’ll be at stand C322 all show, right next to the Microsoft stand.

This year, Bett’s set to be particularly important for exa.foundation - our MOOC’s been shortlisted for the 2018 Secondary Content Bett Award, a distinction we’re particularly proud of having achieved.

Later in the year, we’ll be running our #exabytes18 conference, again at the fantastic Midland Hotel. #exabytes takes place on the 29th of June, and you can book tickets right now - don’t miss out on one of the most genuinely helpful conferences around.