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

January, 2010

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Microsoft at TCEA

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    In a couple of weeks I’ll be heading down to Austin Texas for the annual TCEA conference. This is one of the biggest and best (we are talking Texas after all) educational technology conferences going. I hope to attend the TA/CT SIG meeting where I always run into some wonderful high school computer science teachers. And friends of mine will be presenting a session about using XNA in the classroom for teaching computer science. I hope to see many friends old and new while I am there enjoying some real Texas BBQ!

    Microsoft will also be hosting some workshops during the conference. Microsoft’s sessions will be held in Room 410 located at the Hilton Hotel Austin next to the convention center.

     

    Tuesday, February 9th - Room 410

    Tips and Tricks for Effectively Integrating Windows 7.0 and Office in the Classroom!

    9:00am-10:00am

    Click here to learn more and register

    Web 2.0 Free Tools for Classroom and Teacher Collaboration including Windows® Live@EDU

    10:00am-11:00am

    Click here to learn more and register

    Horizons: MS Technology Roadmap

    11:00am-12:00pm

    Click here to learn more and register

    Virtualization Solutions – Leveraging Existing Software Investments

    1:00pm-2:00pm

    Click here to learn more and register

    Enabling more Students to Access Technology – Windows® MultiPoint® 2010

    2:00pm-3:00pm

    Click here to learn more and register

    Microsoft Academic Licensing Review and Overview of State Contracts available for Texas Schools

    3:00pm-4:00pm

    Click here to learn more and register

     

    Wednesday, February 10th - Room 410

    Using Xbox® 360, Zune® HD and Microsoft® Expression® Studio to Address 21st Century Skills

    9:00am-10:00am

    Click here to learn more and register

    Enabling more Students to Access Technology – Windows MultiPoint 2010

    10:00am-11:00am

    Click here to learn more and register

    Teaching Web Design Classes Using Expression Studio 3 (available free via MSDN-AA)

    11:00am-12:00pm

    Click here to learn more and register

     
     

    Thursday, February 11th - Room 410

    Virtualization Solutions – Leveraging Existing Software Investments

    1:00pm-2:00pm

    Click here to learn more and register

    Web 2.0 Free Tools for Classroom and Teacher Collaboration including Windows Live@EDU

    2:00pm-3:00pm

    Click here to learn more and register

    Horizons: MS Technology Roadmap

    3:00pm-4:00pm

    Click here to learn more and register

    Please pre-register in advance for sessions by clicking the links listed below each session. Registration is also available on site.  I look forward to seeing you there.

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  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Interesting Links 18 January 2010

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    When it rains it pours! I spent last week at FETC in Florida but kept a weather eye out for interesting things to pass on via Twitter (follow me on Twitter @AlfredTwo) and this blog. There sure was a lot going on. This is a larger post that usual which I guess is a good thing. Read though and I’m sure you will find something that is interesting and/or useful to you. Really! Oh and before I forget, a personal highlight of the week for me was being added to the CACM blog roll. Im thrilled to be included on that list which you will really want to check out.

    The amazing Rob Miles (@robmiles) had a new blog post:  Free XNA Screencasts Which is about of all things some free XNA Screencasts. :-)

    And speaking of games the US Imagine Cup twitter account @imaginecupus sent out this interesting link Microsoft Reveals the Science Behind Project Natal for Xbox 360. Some interesting technology going on here.

    @Microsoft_EDU Twittered about using Mouse Mischief to create free, interactive classroom presentations!

    Mouse Mischief is a tool that Microsoft makes available free of charge, and that allows teachers to work with Microsoft Office PowerPoint to make interactive presentations. With Mouse Mischief, teachers can add multiple choice questions to their presentations, and large groups of students can answer the questions using mice connected to the teacher’s PC.

    Matt MacLaurin (@mmaclaurin) Twittered a link to the Kodu program in Victoria, Australia: 26 schools, 1000 kids, 500 Xbox controllers There is a lot of Kodu goodness at http://planetkodu.com. He also sent out a link to an outstanding Kodu walkthrough (Xbox version) from joystiq: http://www.joystiq.com/2009/07/02/video-tour-kodu-microsofts-diy-game-builder/

    From @MS_Student a link to How to Quickly Create a Movie Using Windows Live Movie Maker's AutoMovie feature. Are you or your students making movies? Want to? Check out the video. The software is free as are other tools that are part of Windows Live Essentials.

    The FIRST Robotics season is in full swing. I see from @weemooseus that MIT and FIRST Ally To Encourage STEM Education Careers. This is a good thing. I watched as interest in STEM fields soared at the high school I was teaching at after FIRST Robotics took hold. A great program in my opinion.

    Are you up to a contest for equipment for your school? From @unklar I learned that the CDWG -Discovery wireless classroom contest now open

    Think about how The 21st Century Classroom - interactive whiteboard, notebook computers, wireless cart, projector and document camera - could extend your teaching power.
    ENTER NOW FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN ONE OF THREE GRAND PRIZE PACKAGES including a 21st Century Classroom and a $5000 digital media grant from Discovery Education. Plus, over 20 additional technology prizes!

    On the women in computing front from @cuwise I saw that the call for participation open for Grace Hopper 2010. From the Grace Hopper people (@ghc) There is the Indiana Celebration of Women in Computing (InWIC) February 5-6, 2010, Spencer, Indiana 

    And Ada Lovelace Day is coming on March 24th: An international day of blogging to raise awareness of the achievements of women in technology and science.

    A co-worker sent me a link to an article titled - IT hiring increases last month despite broader jobs decline Is your school preparing students for these jobs? And DARPA feels that the geek shortage is a national security risk. Wow!

    On a related note, Mark Guzdial asks about The disconnect between the Geek shortage and the Geek layoffs. Every time we read a story like the one I linked to above we hear lots of stories about IT professionals who are laid off and can’t find jobs. What’s that about? Some discussion at Mark’s blog in the comments.

    From the Microsoft UK Partners in Learning people - New Innovids-Partners in Learning Network Join for free-access over 30 videos created by teachers for teachers.

    Microsoft opened a new Technology Academics Policy web site http://www.techpolicy.com/ as a forum for academics on the impact of technological innovation in many areas. Well worth checking out.

    Lastly, my personal congratulations to the MIT Scratch team as Scratch won a KAPi award at CES in the category of informal learning.

     

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Some Thoughts On Getting The Most From Ed Tech Conferences

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    I’m writing this in the airport on my way home from FETC. And there in lies my first suggestion. Plan carefully before you go. I made my travel plans to FETC late and based when I travelled on my own speaking schedule. As a result I didn’t pay enough attention to the full conference schedule and missed out on some good things that have and will happen today. I’m working more carefully on my plans for TCEA and will closely look through the schedule.

    Closely related to that is that “playing it by ear” seldom works. One of the people I really wanted to visit with at FETC was Ken Royal (@KenRoyal blog at the Educators Royal Treatment). We exchanged phone numbers before the conference but did not set a specific meeting time. Big mistake. We did connect but between his crazy schedule (the man was everywhere and I can’t wait until he blogs about it all) and my speaking/travel schedule we only had the briefest of conversations. Very unsatisfying. We’re going to try to budget time at TCEA. I highly recommend that you make concrete plans to meet people at conferences.

    Social networking tools are very big at Ed Tech conferences. Several companies and individuals worked at setting up Tweet ups. The only one I attended was, I think, the big one and was really more a grass roots event than a corporate sponsored one. The nice people at @SimpleK12 (http://www.simplek12.com/) helped with logistics and gave out door prizes which I think was very much appreciated. Beyond that they let it be a social networking experience and used it to build relationships rather than make it a sales event. I think that is the way companies should be involved. Provide logistical support, prizes, maybe food/drinks if you have budget for it, but mostly let it be an opportunity for the community to build. People will respect and appreciate you for it. Formal events with sales pitches or where employees (especially employees who are not active on the net) outnumber other attendees just doesn’t work well with the online community.

    The last two years have seen a huge growth in Twitter activity at edtech conferences. Naturally companies/vendors are trying to capitalize on this. At FETC I saw two kinds of vendor tweets using the conference hash tag. One was announcements of events/talks/giveaways/etc and the other was of the “retweet to win” category. I found some of this annoying. On the other hand as someone who was speaking I sent a few tweets along the lines of “At FETC? I'll be talking about XNA, Kudo and game development in Education at 11 in room 205B” I rationalize that as coming from me as a person rather than a company account shilling for the event. Yeah, its a close call. I’d rather have other people  Tweet about my talk but that didn’t happen.

    The “retweet this to win” sort of tweet bothered me more just because there was so many of them and I didn’t think they advanced the value of the conference to me. Several others said they had concerns about vendor tweets. Some suggested a separate hash tag for vendor tweets. not sure how well that would go over though. It would depend on who followed. Most of the vendor tweets came from accounts with relatively few followers. Without hash tag traffic few would see their tweets. It’s something that will have to be worked out over time or vendor tweets will justly earn a bad reputation.

    FETC did not have a specific meet up place/lounge for social media types. This is something I found to be very valuable at ISTE and TCEA. While it may not make sense for smaller regional conferences for the larger ones I think it is becoming a must have. It is a great place for people to put faces to names, voices to words, and generally expand relationships. I see that as a particularly valuable thing for conferences and a great added value.  I can’t help but wonder if that is a vendor sponsorship opportunity at some conferences. Though really conference organizers should see it as something they should make happen.

    Well that is it for now. Hope to see some of you at TCEA. I plan on attending the TA/CT SIG meeting on Wednesday night of the conference. And will be stopping by the blogger meet up area from time to time as well. Drop me a note/comment/email/Tweet if you’d like to connect. Let’s make it happen.

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