Additional profile information on Alfred Thompson at Google+
Microsoft’s new Pre-Collegiate Faculty Connection site is where K-12 educators can access resources developed for middle school and high school technology, computer science and math teachers. It's actually been open for a while but only last week did a discussion forum capability get added. To me the ability for teachers to talk and share ideas and ask questions was and is a key component of any community site. So now that a forum is available I thought it time to talk about it.
Besides the forum one of the other key pieces of this site is the Academic Resource Center. At the ARC teachers can find a variety of curriculum resources from individual units and supplemental materials to complete courses. There is some very good stuff there that has been used at schools all over the world. It's worth checking out.
The forum can be accessed several ways. If you visit the site and click on the Forum menu item you will be taken to a web based reader/writer for contributing. You can also go directly to Microsoft's community forum at this link. If you are an old school Internet user and are comfortable with USENET style news groups you can add microsoft.public.facultyconnection.k-12teachers to your newsgroup reader. (I use Outlook Express myself.) If your current NNTP server does not show microsoft.public.facultyconnection.k-12teachers then create a link to msnews.microsoft.com and you should find it easily. A few people have joined the conversation already but more are always welcome. Come help build a community.
Back in November I listed some high school computer science teacher blogs that I am following. At the top of my list was Brian Scarbeau about whom I said "does not post a lot but I always find a lot of value in what he does post." Well lately he's been a blogging house of fire. He recently started teaching a course on game development using XNA with his advanced students. They are learning C# as the programming language and also learning a lot about the various concepts that go into making a modern game. From what I am reading in his blog it looks like students and teacher are both learning a lot and having a lot of fun.
It's not a cake walk course - Brian expects a lot from students - but it seems like it is working out well. I know a number of other teachers who are using games and XNA in their courses these days but Brian is the one blogging about it. I'd love to hear from and about other courses using game development as well.
I'll be seeing some more high school teachers who are interested in game development in their courses on Microsoft's Game Development in Computer Science conference the end of February. Kathleen Weaver who is also on my list of high school computer science teachers is also going to be on the cruise. She's already blogging about that and I expect she will have a lot to say about what she learns on the cruise.
Last week I found something that may be of interest to school and district technology coordinators and CIOs. At the Higher Education West Technology blog I found a link to something called the Education Test Drive. This is a site that lets people "see first-hand how SharePoint and Exchange can be used to develop a learning community within an institution." I think that most people know about Exchange but SharePoint is a particularly useful but under well-known application that I think has amazing potential on school environments.
There are a number of tutorials there that should be of interest to IT administrators. And the nice thing is that you can run them when and where you have some free time. And I know that finding free time is difficult but not having to travel or to work around someone else's schedule should be handy for people.