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

    Worldwide Teacher Appreciation Day


    By designation of UNESCO today October 5th is Worldwide Teacher Appreciation Day. I am very lucky that every day I get to talk to and work with some of the best, most caring and hardest working teachers in the world. Frankly there are a lot of great teachers out there. But there are two teachers who I most appreciate.

    One of them is my wife. My wife teaches in a middle school and teaches exploratory courses. She teaches kids how to do research, how to use a library, how to use technology in support of there education, but most of all she teaches kids to appreciate reading. She works with teachers in all of the regular courses - science, math, social studies, English and the like. But  as a librarian she has a gift for getting kids to read for pleasure. She spend uncounted hours reading middle school level fiction so that she can recommend books to young readers. She learns their interests and helps them find books that they will enjoy. Because she has read the books she knows what the book is about and how the story is told in ways far beyond what one gets from reading a synopsis. Pleasure reading is way up since she came to that school. And that is a contribution to society that I appreciate.

    The other teacher who constantly amazes me is my son. My son is an elementary school special education teacher. He is something of a specialist in Autism and those wonderful but often challenging students have a special place in his heart. With his training, his patience and his caring he helps some of the hardest to help students in his school. And he does it with style and grace. He is also protective of his students and even students who are not "his" assigned students. If he sees a student not getting a fair break he will step up for them. If there is one thing we really need it is for teachers like my son to stand up for what it right and fair - to lead by example.

    So I appreciate a lot of teachers around the world but these two are special to me.

    Other Microsoft bloggers are thanking teachers today as well:

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    How would you improve K-12 Computer Science Education


    Chris Stephenson is the director of the Computer Science Teacher Association and recently her Advisory Council put some interesting questions to her:

    "What would CSTA do if it had unlimited financial resources? What projects would it undertake that would truly improve K-12 computer science education and address our current enrollment crisis?"

    Over at the CSTA Blog Chris is soliciting ideas and suggestions from others in the computer science education field to help answer those questions. There are a lot of possible areas. Teacher training, curriculum development, and the whole question of attracting more students into the field. Simple questions without simple answers. Give it some thought and if you have some good ideas be sure to jump on over there and share them with others. Perhaps with enough conversation we can come up with some good ideas.

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