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

November, 2008

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Top 10 Education People to Follow on Twitter


    This is a list of the people I know who are twittering about education (in general – not much CS education) and who I think are the people to follow if you are looking for people to follow on twitter about education. If you are looking for a very scientific and highly authoritative list of the top education people on Twitter that everyone should follow this isn’t it.

    The ideal list would include a systematic study of who is following who, who is replying to who, and take into account all the followers each person has. Twitter Grader does something like that and its ranking was one thing I took into account when I created this list. But my list is also highly subjective based on who I see talking and more importantly who I perceive as others taking seriously. If you went strictly by Twitter Grader this is not the list that would result. There are some high ranking Twitter people who just don’t twitter as much or engage in as many conversations. I see conversations as a real good thing in someone I am thinking about following.

    I follow all of these people and most of them follow most of the rest of the list. A couple follow me too. :-)

    So here is my list in no particular order. The first column is their Twitter user name with a link to their Twitter page. The second is their name in real life with a link to their blog if they have one. Lastly is the Bio they used on their Twitter page. This is a format and an idea inspired by the list Ten People All Twitter Beginners Should be Following by Mark Hayward wrote for the ProBlogger Blog Tips blog.

    Jump in and tell me who I should have put on it and who I should have left off. Tell me WHY though.

    chrislehmann  Chris Lehmann Principal of the Science Leadership Academy
    garystager Gary Stager
    teach42 Steve Dembo Online Community Manager, Discovery Education
    coolcatteacher Vicki Davis Teacher, blogger, technology geek, Mother
    jutecht Jeff Utecht   Education, Technology, Consultant, Presenter
    dwarlick Dave Warlick 30+ year educator, technologist, programmer, author, & public speaker
    wfryer Wesley Fryer I'm here for the learning revolution
    budtheteacher  Bud Hunt I'm learning.
    McLeod  Scott McLeod Director, CASTLE.
    jonbecker Jon Becker Assistant professor of educational leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)

    If you want to follow me on Twitter I am at AlfredTwo.

    BTW if you are interested in education blogs take a look at this post by Scott McLeod who looks at recent changes in Technorati rankings of the to 50 education blogs.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    English as a required language for programmers?


    This is unexpected. It’s worth discussion though. Scott Hanselman wrote a post titled Using Crowdsourcing for Expanding Localization of Products which is a very interesting discussion of issues around human v. machine translation of software documentation. This is a huge issue for many international companies. In fact writing software in a way to make messages more easy to internationalize is a worthy topic of discussion in any computer science program. It influences all sorts of design decisions and understanding of different concepts and tools. So far so good. But then the comments get interesting. For example one person says:

    I absolutely agree with Erling Paulsen. If you don't know English, you're not a programmer!

    That comment and several of the comments who agree were not made by people whose first language is English. The argument in brief is that most of the documentation is in English and that English is a sort of defacto common language for programming concepts. If you search the internet using your search engine of choice you will often not be able to look up translated error messages with much success. Therefore the argument goes that for many products, especially for programmers, English should be the one language in use. Please go read Scott’s post and the comments there. There should be a lot more since I wrote this post because I wrote it in advance. :-)

    Wow! These are all things I as an English only speaker never thought about. I just assumed that people would prefer messages in their native language. I remember my wife working in the NYC office of an Italian company having to call Italy for translations of that company’s computer error messages which were all in Italian. I always assumed that others would prefer to avoid the opposite problem.

    So what do you think? What do your students think? In general what do people whose native or first language is not English think about this idea that serious programmers should (must?) learn English?

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Thanksgiving Reading


    Why post anything on Thanksgiving? I mean people are all spending time with family or sleeping through football games on TV and generally staying away from the Internet for a couple of days.  Well maybe not. I get bored and I don’t watch TV and my wife loves me enough to let me stay home while she enjoys “Black Friday.” Honestly she loves it. So typically some time over a long week end I get online hoping to find something to read. And lo and behold the Internet is closed. OK not closed but there is far from the typical amount of stuff out there to read. So clearly I should do my part for those of you who are like me. If any …

    [Note: In the comments Stephen Downes rightly calls me out about Thanksgiving being a US only holiday. And I did think about my non-US readers and how they might be looking for typical Thursday faire today. I was going to bring that up but forgot. I apologize for that oversight. I really do appreciate all my readers including those outside the US.] 

    Here is an interesting article on games. The Army is spending $50 million over 5 years to develop games to train solders. That’s a lot of money. But even more than as something to train solders I think (hope) it might inspire a lot more people to look at other sorts of educational games. Especially those that are more customizable. [Hat tip: Brian Scarbeau for the link.]

    Teamwork in searching? Interesting article in the NY Times (free subscription required) about a Microsoft Research project that allows several people to research together using different computers. The product is now available for free and is called Search Together. It seems like this might be a very helpful tool for students doing group research projects. Maybe you want to use some time this long weekend to try it out?

    Functional Programming? Ever wonder about it? It’s getting a lot of attention in many higher education computer science circles. Sure you can use a special functional language like F# but what if you want to learn in a different context? Eric White has a blog post that introduces a set of tutorial information that uses Visual basic as the language for functional program. You may want to start out at Introduction to the FP Tutorial which makes the case for functional programming.

    Leigh Ann Sudol has a post titled Numb3rs and Trains and CS with a bunch of interesting links and a discussion on the TV show and how it relates to making computer science mean something to people.

    Study: Math Teachers 1 Chapter Ahead of Students – This is a typical problem in computer science education as well. I taught a course where I was only 1 chapter ahead of students once and still feel guilty over it. How can we fix it? I don’t know. If you have ideas I’m interested in hearing them.

    By the way I will be looking for interesting things to read online by Saturday (probably Friday morning) so if you run into something good please leave a comment. Thanks! I may also be on Twitter but don’t tell my wife. :-)

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