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

June, 2008

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    The State of the Education Blogosphere


    Controversy is nothing new for education and the rise of education blogs is not exempt from that reality. The latest is over the domination of the education blogosphere by tech education bloggers. The second big group by the way is education policy bloggers and a related controversy is that those two groups do not cross communicate enough.

    The latest round started innocently enough with Scott McLeod posting a list of the top 54 education bloggers as selected by Technorati rank. There in the comments is discussion about the large number of tech ed blogs, and a shortage of ed policy or classroom specific blogs. There is not much in the way of complaints about using Technorati as the ranking tool although someone does point out that Google and Technorati both can give different results depending on the search string.  But as usual the real interesting discussion takes place across blog posts.

    Jon Becker at Educational Insanity talks about the Ed Tech echo chamber in a post inspired in part by Scott’s list. Jon also talks about the problem of a lack of cross communication. He says “a problem as I see it is that there are very few nodes connecting the unfortunately and unnecessarily distinct networks (i.e. the ed. tech. networks and the ed. policy networks).” I think he is right there to some extent. I have about 100 or so “education” blogs in my RSS reader right now and I see very little interaction between ed tech and ed policy bloggers.

    Justin Bathon talks about how the circle of ed tech bloggers appears scary to outsiders and that people are afraid to try to break in. After all they think they know a lot and then they jump into the edu blogosphere and find a bunch of people with huge followings and years of experience with sharing what they know. I guess it can be daunting. I would hope many would try though. If they get a chance to attend NECC later this month (I’ll be there and hope to see people) they will be able to meet many of these top bloggers. If they do they will find them warm, friendly, helpful and quite encouraging in person.

    I do see some ed tech and ed policy discussion in the blogs of teachers who are basically classroom teachers though. I wonder if part of the problem is that many ed policy bloggers and ed tech bloggers are primarily experts rather than classroom teachers. What I mean by that is that many of the ed tech bloggers who rank the highest are making their living giving advice and sharing their expertise rather than being classroom teachers as their main job. People like Will Richardson who is a top ranked education blogger is a consultant who makes his living, as far as I can tell, teaching people how to use Web 2.0 tools in education. Will used to be a teacher and I have no doubt he was a great one but his livelihood depends in part on his ed tech reputation. Many of the education policy writers are professional (or at least semi-professional) pundits. Andrew Rotherham at is the director of an education policy think tank.

    Now there are some great classroom teacher bloggers of course. Vicki Davis is among my favorites and while I think she would be reasonably classified as an ed tech blogger she talks about policy from time to time as well. And there are also some classroom teachers who blog more about life in the classroom than about either ed tech or ed policy. Chris Lehmann, who is the principal of the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, is someone I think of as a general education blogger. Sure he writes about Web 2.0 stuff from time to time, and he writes about education policy, but he writes a lot about his school and how things work in the real world he faces every day.

    I am interested in Web 2.0 and ed tech as topics. I am interested in education policy as well. That’s why I read those bloggers. But honestly the area I am most interested in is “my subject” – K-12 computer science. My concern is that there are not enough subject matter teacher blogs. I know they are out there in most subjects and I have found a few in computer science education. (I especially appreciate Brian Scarbeau, LeighAnn Sudol and Kathleen Weaver in the high school space. There are others in my blog roll who are also great. Mark Guzdial in the higher ed space has lots of things I find useful as well.) But we sure could benefit from more. Time is a problem. Teachers work killer schedules and some of them want to have an actual life. If we can’t have more of them blogging I wish there were more of them to follow the blogs that are out there and leave comments.

    But the real truth is that most teachers are not following the blogosphere. There just isn’t enough time in the day and they don’t know about the tools that would make it easier. And of course it is still much too hard to find good blogs. can help though. Guy Kawasaki made sure that all the blogs on Scott McLeod’s top 50 list made it onto that site but there are plenty of other sites – new voices perhaps – on that list. The top 50 on Scott’s list are not the top 50 on that page though. Things are moved around a bit to encourage people to explore beyond the “cool kids.”  I think if one wants to get a snapshot of the education blogosphere that’s a good place to start.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Dream Build Play 2008


    Well I see over at the XNA Team Blog they have announced the latest Dream Build Play competition for people creating XNA Games for the XBOX 360.

    In Dream-Build-Play 2008 you can build your dream game to compete with other game developers around the world.  This year’s contest will feature Xbox360 development only and to ensure that everyone has access we will be giving away one free 12-Month XNA Creators Club Trial membership to everyone that registers.  Contestants will compete for $75,000 in prizes and the bragging rights to say their game was the best.  Additionally, one of the top ten finalists will win an opportunity for an Xbox LIVE publishing contract. 

    Some key features that are available in this release:

    · $75,000 in prizes and the chance to receive an Xbox Live Arcade Contract.

    · Create and deploy Xbox360 games using XNA Game Studio 2.0

    · Everyone who registers will receive a FREE 12-Month Trial Creator Club Membership



    I expect the competition to be serious but a lot of fun. If you know someone who thinks they have the next great Xbox 360 game in them and they have some time over the summer to work on it let them know about this.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Friday's List of Links


    Every so often I run into a number of things that I think are interesting and useful but that I don’t feel like I have enough added value to write a whole blog post about each one. This is one such week. I hope you will find at least one of these links interesting and useful.

    CeeBots – from their web page (which is available in English, French and German):

    CeeBot is a brand new concept that will introduce you to programming while having fun. The programming language you'll use is very similar to those used by professional programmers to develop their products. CeeBot introduces many modern concepts found in today's most popular environments like C++, C# or Java.
    After teaching you the syntax of CeeBot, progressive exercises will lead you to use important concepts such as variables, loops, conditional branching, functions, classes, objects, etc.

    OurCourts – This is a new project  that will eventually include an educational game about the US Court system Retired Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor is involved in this project. Right now it holds a lot of useful links and information but there should be more still by the fall.

    Randy Guthrie interviews a student who will be an intern at Microsoft this summer. I hope he does a follow up after the summer. Randy also has a lot of resources for students here.

    Chris Stephenson of the CSTA blogs about the recent meetings that CSTA ran to discuss K-12 computer science outreach with a number of universities and colleges. She discusses the various levels of support that universities are (or in some cases are not) putting into this effort.

    On a related topic there is information about Microsoft Tech Trends events here. Tech Trends events are one way that Microsoft is working with colleges, universities and in some cases high schools to create and run events to get students interested in the CS and IT fields of work and study.

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