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

April, 2009

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Links Twittered April 13 2009


    Once again I have found myself Twittering a lot of links in the course of the week. Here, in hopes you will find one or more of them interesting and or useful, is the most recent collection. If you want to see these in a more timely fashion I invite you to follow me at

    Before I start though let me remind people that there has been a lot of conversation on two of my blog posts from last week. I would seriously welcome more comments on both. And if you have a blog and could link to one/both of them to seed more people my way I would really appreciate it. Or Twitter about them – lots of new traffic coming to this blog from Twitter lately. They are:

    From @NCWIT: I found this article about Computer Science majors not lacking for jobs. One interesting quote from the article is a professor who says "I have more recruiters here than I have seniors"

    Scott Thompson (no relation) on using the World Wide Telescope in the classroom.

    From @NCWIT @ghc  and @anitaborg_org I found out about an African-American Women in Computing Science (AAWCS) scholarship program.

    From an email from a friend (thanks Brian) I found out about some interesting looking tutorials for developing games using XNA.

    A lot of people were talking about this Wired Campus article from  Professor Encourages Students to Pass Notes During Class -- via Twitter Would you do things this way in your classroom? How about in a business lecture/meeting? 

    Microsoft Learning has released 2 courses for Windows 7 early adopters. Perhaps something for school IT people who have to think about when (or if but I hope when) to upgrade to Windows 7.

    From @alexbarnett and @dhinchcliffe  I found a link to something called The Programmer Competency Matrix It looks really interesting and gives one something to think about in terms of where students are compared to where, perhaps, they need to be some day.

    Discovery Education is running a contest. You can enter to win a wireless lab for your school!

    An interesting video from ZDnet (found on TechRepublic) about deciding on the proper IT Tech support to user ratios. The video talks about a ratio of between 60 and 120 users to 1 tech support person in business. Most schools seem to be more like several hundred to 1 How about yours? Perhaps this is a video to show you school board while they do budget planning? :-)

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Teacher Tech Tuesday Erin Gruwell of the Freedom Writers Foundation


    Teacher Tech Tuesday: LIVE Webcast with Erin Gruwell, Founder and President of the Freedom Writers Foundation

    Join Microsoft Education for a LIVE webcast with Erin Gruwell, Founder and President of the Freedom Writers Foundation, as she discusses her upcoming book Teaching Hope: Stories from the Freedom Writer Teachers launching later this year. Erin will discuss how she and 150 teachers across the US wrote and collaborated on the book using Microsoft and HP technology.

    Teacher Tech Tuesday: LIVE webcast with Erin Gruwell

    • April 14th, 2009 at 4:00 PM Eastern

    • May 5th, 2009 at 4:00 PM Eastern

    Register for the webcast at:

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Programming Languages Side By Side


    I’ve been thinking about a parallel programming language textbook for a while now. Not for parallel programming but I’m not sure how to phrase it. What? OK let me explain. One of the popular Bible study tools is a parallel Bible where several translations are printed side by side with each other. That way someone can easily compare how different interpretation teams have looked at the same Bible verses. What I have been thinking about for some time is a textbook of sorts that covers multiple programming languages in a similar parallel fashion. Each concept would show side by side examples in multiple languages. This way students would see different implementations – different syntax – for the same concepts. In theory (completely untested so far) this would build both a greater understanding of the concepts and make it easier for students to transition from one programming language to another.

    From there is gets complicated. What languages and how many languages? Handling C++, C# and Visual Basic seems like a logical easy combination since all three languages are built into the Visual Studio IDE. Is there enough of a difference in early stages between C++ and C# though? Certainly in some areas like class creation and OOP concepts. Should Java be included realizing that a second IDE would be required? How about something like Small Basic which is largely a subset of Visual Basic?

    How about completely different paradigms? F# will be in the next version of Visual Studio so would permit the easy (ok relatively speaking) inclusion of a functional programming language. That might over complicate the book though. I need input on that one. Is it worth trying? Similarly how about a graphic beginners language like Scratch or Alice? Some concepts would not translate at all but some of the early ones would fit in nicely.

    How about some historic languages like FORTRAN (still often used in scientific programming) or COBOL (still used for many legacy applications with believe it or not some new development still taking place)? Not sure about the development environments for those though.

    Help me brainstorm on this a bit please. Are you interested in seeing something like this? What would it include to make it useful?

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