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. :-)
> Why post anything on Thanksgiving?
Because while 300 million Americans are having a holiday, 5.7 billion people worldwide are not.
You know when I was thinking about this post that very thing crossed my mind and I really meant to bring that up. Honestly I did. It is so very valid and so typically American to forget it. I am embarased and I deserved to be called on it. I appologize to all my readers from outside the US.
Most of my regular readership is from the US and most of my outside the US readership is from search engines.
When I first started teaching math I was lucky to be a whole chapter ahead, and I had a teaching degree in math ed! I took four years of math yet was totally unprepared to teach high school math. College math is not high school math. High school freshman do not learn a lot of ordinary differential equations or field theory. I can still remember when a kid mention using the FOIL method. What in the heck was FOIL? And last time I had messed with the quadratic formula was when I was in high school myself. Don't do a lot with the quadratic in college calc. Math Ed teachers should be required to sit in all the bone head college math courses, not because they do not know the math but because they have probably forgotten what a high school math course contains. I have yet to use my second year calc, ODE, non-Eucidean Geometry and most of my other 300 and above college math courses in my high school teaching career. Most math teachers I observe need less math and more teaching experience.
Now that I teach CS it is even worse. I have kids ahead of me because they have more time to tinker with a language. I am trying to teach my Prog II kids some C#. I have never used C# or taken a course in C# (not offered at the local Univ) and am therefore learning it with the kids as we go. Is this a problem? At times, but the kids usually show me what I did wrong. As a math teacher I was always "the expert". Now I am just one of the struggling learners. It is kind of a kick. The kids are having to be responsible for their own education and they are dragging me along. This obviously does not work with all kids but for now I am perfectly happy being half a chapter behind.
For those worldwide that do not have Thanksgiving, do not start one. Too much turkey stuffing is really bad for you, especially if you eat too much at 2PM and too much at 6PM the same day. I better go for a jog.