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

June, 2010

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Kodu Game Lab - Classroom Kit


    The Kodu team has just released a classroom kit of Kodu resources. If you are thinking about using Kodu either in a summer program or with students in the fall this will be a good place for you to start

    A range of lesson plans and activities are available for Kodu. The lessons are designed to be flexible so the instructor should take what she or he feels best suits the class and his or her teaching style. Our goal is to help address the many ways that students respond to technology—some like to be directed in their advancement and others tend to forge ahead, experimenting through trial and error.

    All files are in both PDF and Microsoft Word (the old format for larger compatibility) so you should not have any trouble reading or printing them out.


  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Getting Close to ISTE Time


    I am starting to put stuff together to take with me to ISTE this weekend. I get in Sunday sometime and already have a dinner meeting set up. And some stuff do to Sunday afternoon if I get in early enough. I’ve been planning on this trip for a while of course. I have my official work duties, plans to meet with a bunch of friends, hopes of making more friends at the blogger cafe, and maybe even making some regular sessions. :-) I wrote up some thoughts about how to get the most out of ISTE on the Educators Royal Treatment last week in a post called Getting the Most Out of ISTE. We’ll see if I can follow my own advice and leave my laptop locked up in my room. 

    So far a couple of big deal events for me. Monday night Microsoft and Dell are hosting a Tweet up. If you are a twitter user (even if you just read) or want to meet some interesting people who do interesting things online you will want to be there. It’s Monday at 4:30pm at Denver’s 16Mix located in the Sheraton Downtown Denver. Visit the ISTE Tweet up signup site for more information and a free ticket. I hope to see you there.

    I have some scheduled booth duty time as well. I hope you will stop by the Microsoft booth (#1354) at ISTE 2010 and get a free Leaning Suite DVD - free tools & resources for educators! I mean there is a lot of good stuff on this DVD!

    I’m also looking forward to attending the SIGCT Breakfast Forum: Computer Science and IT Meet Engineering: Getting Students Interested in STEM and the Computing Teachers SIG (SIGCT) Meeting. I’m a long time SIGCT member and these are highlights of any ISTE for me.

    Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday Microsoft is hosting free breakfast presentations in the Hyatt Hotel. If you are regular follower of this blog you may be particularly interested in Tuesday’s breakfast.

    Resources for STEM and Computing Educators

    Join us for a quick overview of Microsoft Expression Studio for Web design, XNA Game Studio, Kodu game environment for younger students, and the World Wide Telescope. Experienced educators will be on hand to answer your questions.

    For more information about these breakfasts, some lunch meetings and other special Microsoft sessions see Microsoft at ISTE 2010. You’ll also find some links there to sessions that are on the general ISTE schedule including sessions on XNA and Web Development curriculum.

    I’m planning on wearing my cowboy hat a lot ACT2 so I should be easy to find. I hope that if you are reading this you will at least stop by and say Hi if you are also at ISTE. If not, I’ll be blogging a good bit and Tweeting from @AlfredTwo so follow along at home.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    How Many Types of Programmers are there?


    Paul Vick wrote a post called “There are only three types of programmers in the world…” in which he lists the three types he sees:

    • Programmers who want to write an operating system
    • Programmers who want to write a compiler
    • Programmers who want to write a database

    It’s an interesting perspective from a guy who has spent most of his career as a languages guy but who is now working as a database guy. But from my perspective his list is too short. There are also the programmers who want to write the next Halo 3 or better yet the next big successful game engine. And the programmers who want to just do weird stuff that no one else does. I think my friend Clint Rutkas fits in that latter category. He says he isn’t interested in the items Paul listed and I believe him. On the other hand he’s done some cool hardware/software combinations. These are the sorts of people who will probably be the ones to make natural user interfaces work BTW. Keep an eye on them.

    Someone asked me on Twitter if user interface creation is a category. I’m not sure that it is a full category. A sub category of both the game and the weird stuff programmers perhaps. Not sure. And of course some people defy categorization.

    For example, there are those of us who want to do it all. I was an OS developer for a while. That was some of the most fun and interesting work of my career. I would love to do it again. In graduate school I did a bunch of small, simple compiler projects and they really gave me a taste of what that was like. And I liked it. Part of me would like to create a language that takes the drag and drop methodology of Scratch or Alice and create a real general purpose language and environment out of it. Wouldn’t that be fun? OK maybe not for everyone. I have spent some time playing with databases. Honestly the math gets involved there pretty quick it seems. But the challenges! Wow! talk about excitement. OK am I on geek overload? Sorry.

    There is more to do than one person could ever do of course. At some point in time most people have to pick an area and try to become the best that they can be at it. But with the choices out there that shouldn’t be a problem. On the other hand, how do we expose students, especially pre-collegiate students, to all these possibilities? That’s something we need to do.

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