Computer Science Teacher
Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

September, 2005

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    A Blog for the Classroom Teacher?

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    When I was teaching I tried to keep up a web page with information for my classes. The idea was to post assignments and links to useful information. This way students could double check their assignments. Parents could also keep up with what their children were supposed to be doing. My intentions were good and I did try to keep it current. But it was hard to maintain because the only way I had to do it was to update an old style web page using HTML. Then I had to upload the file to the web site. It was tedious. Not hard to do but tedious. So the truth is that I seldom updated the class web pages as often as I should have and they seldom contained as much or as current information as they should have.

    Today I’d have a class blog. Blogging software is easy to use and avoids the entire nasty HTML thing and the troubles I used to have with uploading files to the right place.

    I think that blogging would allow me to communicate more information more often to both students and parents. A lack of communication between teachers and parents is, I think, a common source of frustration for both. While there are certainly a lot of parents who are not interested in keeping up with the classroom assignments and activities of their children there are many parents who are frustrated about lack of information. What do they want to know? Well, the obvious is they want to know what assignments their children should be doing, what tests or long term assignments are in the future and what topics are being covered in class. I think that many of them would also welcome pointers to additional resources that they can use to help their students learn to topics under discussion.

    Now of course parents often want up to date grading and attendance information that would be inappropriate for a public blog. That sort of detail is best coming from a password protected Student Information System. A blog site could easily link to such a resource with information about getting access.

    I tend to think that the educational process works best when there is a partnership between teachers, student and parent. Adding some transparency and additional communication to the process through blogging seems to me like a step in the right direction. Are you or do you know a teacher using blogs for communication with parents and students? How’s it going? I’d love to hear about it.

    - Alfred Thompson

     

    Note: Also posted at CyberSpace People Watcher my blog on social computing.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Future Ready - a chance for money for education

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    Are you a K-12 teacher or administrator with a vision for the future using technology in Education? Or do you know someone like that? If so, the Future Ready site is something you want to visit. From the web site:

    "Dell and Microsoft are teaming up to give away over a million dollars worth of education technology and services. If you'd like to find out how you can enter for a chance to win equipment that can make a world of difference in students' lives, then visit www.FutureReady.org."

    There are three different contests at Future Ready for schools to enter.

    • Mobile Lab contest - Five schools will get a lab on a cart worth about $10,000
    • Intelligent Classroom - Three schools will win a "smart classroom" worth about $75,000
    • K-12 IT Visionary - One school with a vision will get $250,000 to implement their vision.

    - Alfred Thompson

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Anders Hejlsberg Visits with HS CS Teachers

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    This must be my trip to Redmond to meet famous Microsoft people. Yesterday I spent some time with Robert Scoble (famous Microsoft Geek Blogger and founding member of the Channel 9 Team). Robert and I have met before and we had a great conversation. Today I got to meet Anders Hejlsberg. Anders came to talk about LINQ which is a new data feature for C# and Visual Basic .NET. Anders also talked about LINQ at a recent Channel 9 video. Anders is a great speaker. He is also quite approachable. I've met super smart, really technical people who are difficult and intimidating to talk to. Anders is not one of those people. He was just great about explaining a complex topic and answering questions from the people in the room. I think the audience was impressed with his talk. I know I was. If you ever get a chance to here him talk be sure to do so.

    The occasion for this meeting was a Faculty Advisory Board meeting that we are running in Redmond this week. We have 10 high school teachers here for two days of meetings. Anders was one of the guest speakers we brought in to talk to them so that we can introduce them to what is coming from Microsoft. We will be asking them for feedback in the future. We are really interested in seeing how our tools can be more effective in the educational process. Advisory groups are one of the ways we try to listen to customers.

    Another way is through blogging. I asked for teacher feedback on Visual Studio .NET in an earlier blog entry . If you have thoughts I’d love to hear them.

    - Alfred Thompson

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