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

September, 2007

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Tablet PC Articles available


    This must be the week for Tablet PC news. The IEEE Computer Society magazine issue with a bunch of articles on Tablet PCs in education is available for free download (PDF file - 4.6 MB) for a limited time (thanks to a link from Jim Vanides at HP)

    Articles include:

    1. Magic Paper: Sketch-Understanding Research – how does one think about a surface that is natural and easy to draw on, yet understands what you draw?

    2. Ink, Improvisation, and Interactive Engagement: Learning with Tablets – thoughts on the integration of technology features and instructional models developed by educators.

    3. Handwriting Recognition: Tablet PC Text Input – how do you accomplish recognition over a wide range of writing styles and poorly formed cursive script? Use a time-delay neural network working with a lexicon.

    4. Classroom Presenter: Enhancing Interactive Education with Digital Ink – this system supports the sharing of digital ink on electronic slides to promote active learning and collaboration in the classroom.

    5. Facilitating Pedagogical Practices through a Large-Scale Tablet PC Deployment – tablet use by all students and faculty in and out of the classroom has shown positive initial results.

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  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    What Do You Do the First Day of Class


    The first day of any class often sets the tone of the whole run of the course. That's the time when teachers get to introduce the students to what the course is really about. What are the expectations the teacher has for the students? What are the rules students are expected to follow? And most important what will the students be learning? And how will things be taught?

    Leigh Ann Sudol (I talked about her yesterday) has a post in the Computer Science Teachers Association blog last week where she talks about one of her favorite first day exercises. She has students write the directions for a paper airplane and then has them switch so that others try to follow those directions.

    That's one of my favorites as well and I've used it for years. It shows students just how complicated giving instructions can be. Leigh Ann asks for other first day suggestions on the CSTA Blog and I hope others drop some by in the comments or in their own blogs linking back to there.

    Which reminds me, a first day exercise that was used in a class I took a long time  ago used writing instructions for tying shoes. Writing directions for that task without using pictures can be quite a challenge.

    BTW I highly recommend the Computer Science Teachers Association to all teachers of computer science. If you teach computer science it is worth checking out.

    [Note: There are a number of interesting suggestions in the comments of the post at the CSTA Blog. ]

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    The Risks of Letting Students Use The Network


    You really have to be careful about letting students use computer/network chat programs in school. I mean you hear it all the time. If you let them run chat programs they'll do all sorts of talking behind your back. Who knows what they'll be talking about. You can't have that sort of thing going on. No no no. One person at a time talking and most of the time that should be the teacher who of course knows everything. You've heard all that right? I have.

    But as the Cool Cat Teacher Vicki Davis found out recently one real risk is that students might learn something. Something you want them to learn.

    Take a look at this blog post. Read the post but the short version is that she set up a chat room for the students in her class to chat about what was going on in class. What happened was that the kids learned more. They asked each other questions and answered them. Students who seldom spoke up or participated in class discussions participated in the chat version of the discussion. And the teacher had a better idea of what the students did and did not understand.

    Really does it get much better than that? I hardly think so. Oh it wasn't perfect and there are still issues to work out in the process but it looks pretty good so far.

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