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

August, 2006

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Make Movies with Windows Movie Maker

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    With the advent of digital video equipment, digital auto equipment and computers software, often free software, a lot more people are interested in doing interesting things with video. It has probably never been more easy for regular people to create great looking video. Sites like You Tube have made it easier for people to share their work of course. But often people need a little help getting started.

    Thanks to a link from Alex Barnett I found this how to video on YouTube that explains how to make a movie with Windows Movie Maker.  Blake Handler links to still more Windows Movie Maker resources here. I can see a lot of fun and educational things students (and perhaps teachers as well) can do with this free tool. It's about 13 minutes long, uses the Spanish version of the software, but the language of instruction is in English. Check it out.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Internet Safety Videos

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    The netsmartz.org web site is a joint effort of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. They have a number of excellent videos on cyberbullying and the risks of strangers children can meet online. Most of the videos also have activity cards (often different ones for middle school and high school students), links to related news articles and other supporting resources. These are easily used as part of a curriculum to teach students about safe and responsible behavior on the Internet.

    Netsmartz is one of the organizations that is part of the Get Net Safe Tour that Microsoft is proud to be a partner with. More information about the tour and programs on Internet safety can be found at http://www.staysafe.org/ Upcoming tour dates and locations include:

    Dallas        August 29, 30, 31

    Chicago     September 12, 13, 14

    Detroit       September 26, 27, 28

    New York City    October 10, 11, 12

    Philadelphia      October 17, 18, 19

    Charlotte       October 24, 25, 26

    Los Angeles     November 14, 15, 16

    Seattle          November 28, 29, 30

    Orlando       December 5, 6, 7

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Big O Notation - just how bad is that algorithm?

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    Someone sent me an email the other day looking for information to help him understand Big O notation. Big O notation is used to compare the efficiency of algorithms. If you teach Advanced Placement Computer Science (APCS) then this is something you have to teach because it appears all over the exam. If you are a professional developer or computer scientist than you'd better understand it as well. In real life it is part of the vocabulary that lets people have some important discussions about what algorithm to use.

    I had some materials that I've used in the past that I send to my correspondent but the web links for the original locations were no longer valid. I don't like the idea of trying to archive other people's work. I'd much rather provide links so that people can go to the source. So I asked a number of my teacher friends what online links they were using. What follows are the links they sent me. As always with Internet links I can not be sure they will stay valid for ever. But as of this morning these were all working links. I hope that others find these useful.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_O_notation - it seems like you can't discuss anything computer related without a link to the Wikipedia article

    http://www.cprogramming.com/tutorial/computersciencetheory/algorithmicefficiency1.html - Algorithmic Efficiency -- Beating a Dead Horse Faster - This is a short but interesting introduction to Big O notation.

    http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~hasti/cs367-common/notes/COMPLEXITY.html - Complexity and Big-O Notation - Some rather complete notes from a course at the university of Wisconsin

    http://www.cs.duke.edu/csed/talks/sigcse2004/bigo/slides.ppt - Tradeoffs, intuition analysis, understanding big-Oh aka O-notation - a PowerPoint presentation by Owen Astrachan of Duke University. Very well done.

    http://staff.fcps.net/jlreed/CS2Files/11.2%20Compl... - 11.2 Complexity Analysis A PowerPoint presentation apparently by J L Reed. Used by several other teachers that I know of.

    One of these days I'll have to write my own notes up. I've never been all that strong on understanding and teaching Big O (my students already know that I don't know everything so that mystery is gone) so I really need to spend some time working on this. My feeling is that working on it hard enough to explain it well will force me to a much higher level of understanding. That's usually how things work.

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