Diane Zak at ACET

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

Diane Zak at ACET

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The lunch speaker for ACET today was Diane Zak, noted text book author. This was the first time I have heard her talk or met her. She gave a very interesting talk about teaching with Visual Basic .NET. Like me, she is in the process of updating a book for Visual Studio .NET 2005 and excited about the new features that are coming. Of course she also complains a bit about how fast things in computer science change and how much work that creates for teachers. And that is an issue. It is a struggle to keep up with technology. One of the things I am hoping we at Microsoft can help with over the next year or so is ways to prepare teachers for these changes. I'm planning a number of web casts that I hope to start later this month.

The other think that Diane Zak talked about was the controversy over using console applications against GUI applications. Her opinion is to use both. That is what I have been doing in workshops lately. I still have mixed feelings about it. I like GUIs but I am aware of the issues that can cause. It will be interesting to see how she develops her ideas in a future textbook. I'm also always interested in what others think about this issue so feel free to leave comments.

By the way, tonight's dinner is at Billy Bob's Texas. Apparently they are the world’s largest honky tonk. Contrary to the suspicions of most students teachers do know how to have a good time so I am looking forward to this.

- Alfred Thompson

  • What kinds of issues do GUIs cause in the classroom?
  • That is probably something I should write a whole blog entry on. But the short answer is that many students spend all or too much of their time working on making the GUI look nice. This doesn't leave enough time for writing the code behind it that is generally the most important part of the project. I'll follow up on this over the weekend.
  • that's an interesting notion. I suppose that might be true from the perspective of an Academic. In contrast, when I was at PDC the team that is working on the <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/products/expression/en/default.aspx" target="_blank">Microsoft Expression tools</a> was talking about the need for UI and code to come together. I must say that I agree. as an end-user, I care less about how well written the code is (as long as there is a managable level of performance) and more about how easy the developer has made it to discover how to use features. maybe that isn't something that educators are concerned with but for students who want to some day be "developers" I will bet that the folks who pay their salary will care. my $0.02.
  • One of the things that XAML and the new design tools do is seperate the development of the UI from the writing of the program. Programmers who often do a poor job of designing a UI can hand off that job to designers, who generally are not programmers.
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