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

April, 2006

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    The Washington Post says the Teacher's Lounge is moving online


    Teachers are starting to blog. Slowly and sometimes anonymously and for a number of different reasons. But starting they are. MSNBC has an interesting article from the Washington Post on the subject. (Quoted in small part below.) I can think of a number of good reasons for teachers to blog.

    1.      Communicating with their students and teachers. Blogging tools allow teachers to quickly and easily upload information about homework, up coming tests, and other things that are going on in class. Allowing comments permits a conversation to take place in ways that email and phone calls do not.

    2.      Sharing ideas with their peers. I link to a number of blogs by computer science teachers at this blog because I am finding that a lot of great ideas are being spread that way. Teachers, while masters of their own classrooms to a great extent, are at times very isolated in that they don’t get enough time to share ideas with other teachers. Blogging allows them to share their own ideas and to read about the good ideas others have.

    3.      Educational projects for their students. There are teachers using blogs written by their students as the latest form of online journals. The Washington Post has an article about that here. The article features Will Richardson whose blog I read on a regular basis. Another article talks about blogs at the university level.

    4.      Putting a face on education. Education is one of those “businesses” that really needs to open up a bit. Education is all too often perceived as a closed off part of society where parents are only let in for a peek now and again and non-parents are excluded from completely. This really has to change if education is going to get the kind of support it really deserves. Teachers and administrators can use blogs to open up a bit and let people understand what is really going on.

    5.      Facilitating an open discussion about education. This is related to the last item of course. But basically I think that teachers feel themselves excluded from a lot of the discussion of things like No Child Left Behind, vouchers, unions and union decisions (many senior union officials are not elected by the general membership) and other issues of school funding and governance. Teachers can use blogs as a platform for getting their voices heard. I read a number of blogs with that focus already.

    6.      Understanding what their students are up to. One of the reasons I first started to blog was to help me understand the whole phenomenon on blogging. With the large numbers of students blogging that is one reason some teachers are trying it out. After all, teachers know a lot about learning by doing.



    WP: The teachers' lounge goes online - Highlights -

    The teachers' lounge — that secretive place where, students imagine, teachers sip coffee, smoke and gossip about them — has gone global.

    The blogosphere is the new lounge where teachers gather to talk about vicious administrators, educational reforms both stupid and smart, marriage, divorce and, yes, students.

    Educators had been slow to catch on to blogs, in part for privacy and security reasons, according to some teachers. But their blogs have been growing exponentially over the past year, according to people who monitor Web content. A few years ago, there were practically none; now there are thousands.

    Some teachers use blogs in the classroom to communicate with students and allow them to critique each other's work. But it is in the personal blogs that teachers have some of the most open, and occasionally brutal, discussions about themselves and their profession.

    Note: Crossposted from my Social Computing blog.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Microsoft education grants, scholarships, and academic discount pricing


    Microsoft gives out a large number of education grants, scholarships, and academic discount pricing oppertunities. Are you eligible for any of these?

    If your school recieves donated computers you will want to check out Fresh Start for example.  More computers than ever are now qualified for this free program so if you haven't checked it out lately you may want to check it out now.

    If you buy Microsoft Office and related products you will want to check out the Student Select program.

    And of course for Visual Studio there is the MSDN Academic Alliance program which has special offers for high schools.

    Speaking of pricing - View a short video and find out how a Microsoft Campus or School Agreement can keep your technology current, reduce administrative overhead, and save you money.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Academic .NET Radio


    I just ran into an audio interview with Dan Fernandez talking about Visual Studio Express at a site called Academic .NET Radio.

    Academic .NET Radio is a series of podcasts by Matt Cassell, a 15 year old software developer from Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. Matt is also a Microsoft Visual C# MVP. You don't see many teenaged MVPs so you know Matt is a pretty exceptional person. When you see the list of other people Matt has interviewed you'll be even more impressed.

    One of the things I take away from this site is that young people can be taken very seriously when they learn a lot, act professionally, and produce good work. It's not all about age in technology these days.

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