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

October, 2007

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    How many posts are too many posts


    This is sort of a meta post. That is to say it is a post about posting. I've been thinking a lot about how often I post here. How much is too much, how much is not enough?

    What I try to do here is to post information that is useful/helpful/interesting to people who teach high school (and middle school) computer science. That's my main audience. I seem to have an actual audience that is much larger than that which is of course great. I am mindful that it is a good idea to post things of interest for those people as well. But the main audience is high school teachers. And if I know anything about high school teachers it is that they do not have a lot of free time. What time they have is valuable and I do not want to waste it.

    So I set out a goal to post one really useful thing every business day. Some times maybe an extra post but never more than 24 a month. Is that too much? I'm not really sure. No one has complained but then generally if people find the volume of a blog too much they just quietly stop reading it. Plus I don't know for sure how people are reading this blog. If they are using an RSS reader (and only about 42%of my traffic is from RSS reads) then it can be easy to skim titles and just read what looks interesting. That makes more posts less of a problem generally.

    If  they are reading via the web then they are likely to only read the top article or two or maybe three. So unless they are reading several times a week (which seems unlikely given the time constraints that teachers are under) they may be missing things. A lot of the web traffic appears to be via search engines or links from other blogs though. Hence the uncertainty about how many people are using the more efficient RSS feed.

    So the rate I am using seems like a balance I can live with. But is it right for my readership? Also, sometimes I find a lot of things that I think are high enough quality to post about. Do I add extra posts risking information overload or do I do something else? For the most part I use my goal of no more than 24 posts a month as an additional filter - a forcing function to only post the most valuable stuff. Sometimes though it is hard to leave things out. Sometimes the answer I come up with is to post something later in the week or perhaps the next week. But sometimes timeliness is an issue. One hates to post stale information.

    Then the issue is combining posts or posting separately.  What would the user prefer? No idea. So I thought I would ask. Please some thoughts in the comments.

    • Is the current volume of posts too high, too low, or just about right?
    • When I have multiple good things for the same day which do you prefer - a single post covering multiple topics or a separate post for each topic?
    • Any other comments you'd like to leave about the way this blog is being run please write them as well.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    What Guidance Needs to Know About Computer Science


    When ever computer science teachers get together and talk about what makes their life difficult school guidance counselors come into the discussion. Listen in and you will hear stories of guidance "dumping" unqualified students into CS classes to fill elective needs, counselors advising students to avoid CS because "there are not jobs there" or because "colleges want to see more foreign languages on the transcript", and other tails of counselors who just don't appreciate computer science education.

    This came up in the CSTA blog recently with a post titled "What School Counselors Need to Know About CS" I'll tell you that blog has been on a roll lately and this post contributed by Dr. Debra Richardson, Dean of the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California at Irvine packs a punch.

    Two paragraphs in particular are worth repeating (emphasis mine):

    I'm going to repeat a somewhat controversial quote, but it's something that is echoing the halls of higher education today: Computing and information "is the liberal arts education of the 21st century - the skill that can be universally applied across domains to help solve the toughest scientific, economic and social problems. Nurturing and energizing the next generation of liberal arts specialists will bring about new dreams and new discoveries."

    It was Dan Reed, Director of the Renaissance Computing Institute who I first heard say this, and it's just so true. Today's college graduates simply can't call themselves properly educated for the 21st century if they don't have appropriate fluency in computing and information technology.

    There you have it. In the future, and I think that future is coming fast, students who are not fluent in computing and information will not be seen as properly educated. Not quite "reading, [w]riting and [p]rogramming" but close. Insert the broad "computational thinking" as an extension of math that includes programming concepts (can you search a database without Boolean expressions? Not really.) and I think you get the picture. There are far sighted people who are starting to say out loud that computer science (not applications usage either) should be a required course.

    The guidance department needs to understand that computer science will soon no longer be optional and if they really want to prepare students for the future they should work with computer science educators and not against them.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    DigiGirlz Days are scheduled


    The DigiGirlz Days schedule is out (actually I got a sneak peak - thanks Diane) and there are more of them in more places than ever before. What is a DigiGirlz Day?

    During the event, students interact with Microsoft employees and managers to gain exposure to careers in business and technology and to get an inside look at what it's like to work at Microsoft. This exciting event provides girls with career planning assistance, information about technology and business roles, thought-provoking exercises, and interesting Microsoft product demonstrations. By participating in the Microsoft DigiGirlz Day, young women can find out about the variety of opportunities available in the high-tech industry and can explore future career paths.

    The main DigiGirlz site also includes information about week long summer programs although that schedule for this coming summer is not out yet. I'll post news here when it becomes available. Or bookmark the Digigirlz site and keep tabs on it yourself.

    And don't miss looking at Logan Olson's Video Story. Logan is a former DigiGirl who created Logan Magazine - "Fashion and lifestyle for young people with disabilities." It's an inspiring story of a young woman who is using technology to accomplish her dreams.

    Below is the list of dates and locations as I know them today. Look for more information on the ones in the UK and India in the near future.

    Wednesday, February 20, 2008

    Toronto, Canada

    Thursday, February 28, 2008

    Farmington, CT

    Friday, March 07, 2008

    Malvern, PA

    Friday, March 07, 2008

    Washington, DC

    Friday, March 07, 2008

    Denver, Colorado

    Friday, March 07, 2008

    Phoenix, Arizona

    Monday, March 10, 2008

    Waltham, Massachusetts

    Tuesday, March 11, 2008

    St. Louis, Missouri

    Friday, March 14, 2008

    Salt Lake City, Utah

    Thursday, March 20, 2008

    Iselin, New Jersey

    Monday, March 24, 2008

    Irvine, CA

    Tuesday, March 25, 2008

    Mountain View, CA

    Wednesday, March 26, 2008

    Islandia, NY

    Thursday, March 27, 2008

    New York, New York

    Friday, March 28, 2008

    Tampa, Florida

    Wednesday, April 16, 2008

    Bloomington, MN

    Thursday, April 17, 2008

    Pittsburgh, PA

    Spring 2008

    Hyderabad, India

    Spring 2008



    [Edited on 7 Nov 2007 to change the date of the Farmington CT event.]

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