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

February, 2009

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Teaching Office Resources, University Lectures, Things Found on Twitter


    Twitter continues to grow as part of my professional learning network. This week I learned about a number of new resources for training, teaching and learning. For example, from MSOfficeResKit  I learned about a large set of customizable training resources for teaching Office 2007. The full list on on the MS Office resource Kit blog. From the site:

    You can customize and use each of these presentation templates to provide in-house training to your users. Each presentation contains detailed instructions for performing the task, including screenshots and short quizzes. Instructions on how to use the template are included on the last slide in each deck.

    Pretty cool. Designed for professional development/training I don’t see why these would not also be useful in the school classroom.

    And then there is Academic Earth. I forget who I heard that one from because I just hit the link and didn’t get back to it for a while. The computer science sessions look very interesting to me. Harvard, MIT, Berkeley and Stanford are all represented with computer science course lectures. I’ve heard good  things about al four of those universities – even the ones on the west coast. (joke people joke)

    And two talks by Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer are making their way around these days. Bill Gates’ TED talk where he talks about malaria and then about quality teachers is the first one. The tech geeks are talking about Bill letting mosquitoes loose but educators are all discussion what it means to be a good teacher. And the role if any of tests in determining that.

    Steve Ballmer talked to the Democratic Caucus last week about the need for more science and technology education. Some interesting snippets:

    “And in today's knowledge-driven world, innovation will depend on people who are actually technologically sophisticated, have strong critical thinking skills, have expertise in math and science and engineering.”

    “We really need to transform math and science education in America.  We need to improve teacher training, teacher quality. I was talking earlier in the day with some folks about just how many of our math and science teachers don't have the correct training and accreditation, and that stands in the way of us really breaking through.”

    “For those who are unemployed, we need new technical skills training to give those people a start back up the economic ladder.”

    “I sat down with the speaker at 8:00 AM, and she woke me right up.  She said there are four things I want you to make sure you understand are a priority: science, science, science, and science.”

    A lot of good stuff being discussed these days. If you’re on Twitter follow me at

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Finding the Titanic


    The closing keynote TCEA was given by Dr. Robert Ballard of oceanographic explorer fame. It was a talk that was both interesting and inspiring. One thing he said was particularly thought provoking to me. I think it is highly relevant to the current and worsening recruitment problems we are having in computer science – especially with non-traditional CS students.  Dr. Ballard explained that for many years he was making important discoveries in science. Uncovering secrets of the earth and of life that caused people to throw away the old textbooks. Revolutionary discoveries. And yet all his graduate students were from over seas. Children had never heard of him. There was no excitement in the field outside of the field. Then he found the Titanic!

    Within weeks he’d received 16,000  letters from young people with two questions on their mind – "What do I have to do to do what you do for a living?" and "The next time you go, can I go with you?"  From relative obscurity he and his field had grabbed the imagination of young people in a way that was unprecedented. These days all of his graduate students are Americans and many young people grow up wanting to be like him and make the sorts of discoveries that he and his teams are making.

    It makes me wonder – what is the computer science equivalent of finding the Titanic? What is that one thing that will grab the imagination and inspire a generation to enter the field?

    It may not even be central to the field. In fact I suspect that it will not be. Perhaps it is some tour de force that proves a controversial concept or theory. After all finding the Titanic was a great demonstration of equipment that was really designed to do other more centrally scientific things. I don’t know what it will be but I am pretty sure that we need to find it. Slow and steady is losing us ground. So … any ideas?

    PS: A good review of Ballard's TCEA talk here.
  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Certification 101: Getting Started with Microsoft Certification – It’s Back!


    The last time one of these sessions was held I found out about it late but there was still a lot of interest. This time I found out early so I am letting you know early. If you have wanted to learn about the Microsoft Certified Professional program this online meeting is for you.

    Live Meeting: Certification 101
    Investing in training and certification can help make you more valuable in today’s economic climate. Join the Microsoft Certified Professional team for a Live Meeting to learn about the value, benefits, and process of getting certified: choosing a certification path, preparing for your first exam, taking an exam, and what to expect after that. Register for one of the following Live Meetings:

    March 10:  Certification 101: Getting Started with Microsoft Certification

    And later in March are coaching sessions for two of the exams.

    March 17:  Microsoft Certification Coaching Session: Preparing for your Configuring Microsoft Windows Vista Client Exam (70-620)

    March 24:  Microsoft Certification Coaching Session:  Preparing for your Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Implementation and Maintenance Exam (70-432)

Page 4 of 6 (18 items) «23456