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

October, 2007

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    New Community Site for Robots in Education

    • 2 Comments is a new community portal for robotics and technology in education. Highlights include links to various robotic competitions for school students, lists of workshops and camps and discussion forums. Their mission: exists to connect students, mentors, and schools in every community to a variety of successful and engaging technology-based programs. Our goal, along with our primary co-sponsors Autodesk and Innovation First Inc., is to provide these programs with services, solutions, and a community that allows them to flourish in a way that fosters the technical and interpersonal skills necessary for students to succeed in the 21st Century. Whether it's a competitive event, workshop, camp, or conference we understand the unprecedented level of passion and commitment it takes to create, maintain, and execute such programs. is committed to promoting technology and related student and professional advancement so that one day these programs become accessible to all communities.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Security V. Ease of Use


    I've run into lots of security talk lately. I visited a school last week where the programming teacher is having some issues because the IT department wanted him to try letting them manage the lab's new computers. Sort of "let's see if it makes things as difficult for [the teacher]" or if it is really not bad. So far the review is that it is making life much harder for the teacher. Now since there were no real problems with the way it was or still is in other computer science labs one has to wonder why IT is insisting on managing things this way.

    This of course leads to the age old question of where do you draw the live between security and ease of use. This was a big issue at EDUCAUSE last week. The Chronicle: Wired Campus Blog reports on a presentation by people from the Air Force Academy. There are a number of great points at the blog but I'd like to highlight one of them.

    "When the user pain exceeds security gain, think twice. “If you tighten things down to the point where users start to work around what you are doing, you’ve got a problem,” Mr. Bryant said."

    BTW the blog originally called "Hackers @ Microsoft" changed their name to "%41%43%45%20%54%65%61%6d" for a number of reasons largely around (my reading between the lines) not scaring people. I bring them up today because they have a number of interesting links as well as a great quote for discussion.

    "The research indicates there are tensions within organizations over how data should be managed. Security and privacy professionals see customer data as an asset to protect, while in functions such as marketing where personal data is collected and used, employees are more likely to see it as a resource to achieve business objectives."

    The tension between keeping data safe and actually using it is one I see on a regular basis.

    We tend not to have these discussions with high school students except in the context of them violating school rules. Perhaps we need to have them more often though. They need to understand the problems that they will face in the outside world as they both use and create computer systems. And as the speaker from the Air Force Academy said we need to "Communicate with users about why there is a real threat. Tell them about the risks of insecure networks and bad behavior." That sort of thing should be part of a student's education.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Tablet PC Tips on Video


    The Tablet PC Education blog points out that Jim Vanides has created some videos to show instructors how to get more out of their Tablet PCs. SO far there are three in his series:

    1. How to use ink to annotate PowerPoint slides - did you know you could do that? And then you can save the notes if you want and distribute them to students. or just same them to update the slide in a more fancy way later.
    2. Advantages of Microsoft Journal over PowerPoint - Journal might just be a hidden gem of a tool.
    3. Using ink to mark up and otherwise annotate homework from students - skip that whole print everything out step and do it all on soft copy. Neat stuff.

    I'm sure Jim will be adding to this. I know he is interested in hearing from teachers as to interesting ways they are using Tablet PCs or things they want someone to explain.

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