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

July, 2007

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Why would you want to teach high school computer science?


    Brian Scarbeau and I had an interesting conversation in Atlanta last week. Brian blogged about some of it. One of the concerns we both have is the shrinking pool of high school computer science teachers. A friend of ours just left teaching to take a job in industry. (of course I have done the same thing I admit.) Many of the computer science teachers we saw at the CS & IT symposium and that I saw at NECC last week are older. Not old really but a lot closer to retirement than to the beginning of their career. A good number of great teachers have retired in the last couple of years and that will only continue in the near future.

    So who is going to take over for these teachers. In far too many cases no one is. There are schools where the computer science program has basically died after a teacher has retired because there was no one to replace them. We don't see a whole lot of young people moving in to take their places. There is a growing shortage of teachers in general of course. And high demand jobs like math and science teachers are leading the list of specialties in short supply.

    Let's face it, if you really know your stuff in computer science you can make some good money in industry. But even if you feel a calling to teaching (and I feel it still and hope to get back to it some day) the system doesn't make it easy for you. There is no national standard for certifying computer science teachers. And in fact more states than not have a complete mess when it comes to certification for CS teachers. Often one has to be a either a math (ok close) or a business (what?) teacher to teach computer science. There is seldom a stand alone CS teacher certification. In fact if there is one I am not sure I know where it is. How do you even know what/how to prepare?

    There are a bunch of problems here. At yet teaching high school and even middle school students (some people love teaching middle school others prefer other grades) computer science is a wonderful, enjoyable and rewarding career. But it is hard to communicate that in a society that keeps score based on income. We really need to find a solution here and not just for computer science education but for education in general.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Some Useful Links For Teachers


    I put together a handout of useful links for teachers today for a workshop that was hosted in Microsoft's Waltham sales office today. Most of these links were in response to questions from teachers in attendance. It seemed to me that these links may be interesting to others as well. And I was having trouble coming up with a post that was both original and useful. :-)

    Microsoft Education Home –

    Microsoft Learning -

    Student Tech Support Programs

    Math Resources

    Online Workshop Microsoft has sponsored a free online workshop for 3-5th grade teachers regarding how to teach math better using technology.  It can be found on the home page of the math forum: (Continuing Education Credits are possible)

    Microsoft Math There is a free trial (full functionality for 30 days) available from the left navigation menu at the Microsoft Math website -

    Computer Literacy

    Online Computer Literacy Curriculum from Microsoft - 

    SharePoint Learning Kit - - E-learning delivery and tracking application built on Windows SharePoint Services (free, open source)

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Turning Our Backs On Tech


    Or perhaps the growing shortage of Chief Information Officers (CIOs). All of a sudden I've been getting copies of or links to this column in Fortune by Geoff Colvin. According to some sources there is a shortage of really qualified CIOs in the US. I can't say that I am surprised.

    Being a CIO (I was one once in a small scale and without the title and pay check) requires a difficult mix of skills. Sure you have to be tech savvy but you also have to be business savvy and people savvy. Geeks who work best locked in a dark room coming out only for pizza, Jolt or Chinese takeout need not apply.

    The column says a few things I have been trying to say.:

    It isn't coding in cubicles anymore. Those jobs really are going offshore, and they should be. The jobs that remain are more demanding, higher paying, and multiplying fast - if only there were people to fill them.

    This is a problem and companies, especially high technology companies have to have a hand in fixing it. They have to show people, especially students that there is a future, a bright, fun, exciting future, in computer science and information technology. But parents and teachers have to get involved as well.

    Spread the word - "Companies big and small desperately need well-rounded IT experts."

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