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

July, 2010

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) Certifications


    This week Microsoft announced a new set of entry level certifications that may be of interest to many schools and colleges/universities. Personally I think that this is just the sort of program that many career/technical high schools have been waiting for. The program is called the Microsoft Technology Associate program. There are seven exams in two categories – Developer and Information Technology.

    Developer Exams

    • Software Development Fundamentals
    • Web Development Fundamentals
    • Windows Development Fundamentals
    • Database Fundamentals

    IT Professional Exams

    • Networking Fundamentals
    • Security Fundamentals
    • Windows Server Administration Fundamentals

    More information from the Microsoft Technology Associate FAQ

    Q. What is the Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certification?

    A. The Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certification is a new, entry-level certification designed to help individuals take the first step toward a career as an IT professional or developer.

    An MTA certification is based on 80 percent knowledge and 20 percent skills. The next step in the Microsoft certification path is Microsoft Technology Specialist (MCTS), which requires hands-on experience with the Microsoft technology platform.

    Students can download and install a complete developer tool set at no cost through the DreamSpark Program.

    Additional information:

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Visual Programming Languages


    There seem to be a growing number of visual programming languages available these days. Kodu (below) is for creating games by younger people. It’s “When"/Do” model is simple and easy to learn. It’s a bit limited though. It is really a domain specific language for games.


    Scratch is also a visual language that is widely being used to teaching young people, especially in middle school but as old as college. I love it and it has some wider applicability. And a richer language to some degree than Kodu.


    Alice is the big elephant in the room in terms of visual programming languages for teaching. But it too feels limited to its domain and development environment. Great for teaching/learning but no one is  going to program an accounts receivable package in it. BTW is it just me or does Scratch’s blogs look cooler and more fun than Alice’s blocks?


    So here is the real question running through my mind – could a general purpose programming language be created that removes the syntax issues the way that Kodu, Scratch and Alice do? Why not? What would be the issues? And why has no one done this yet?


  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Interesting Links July 5 2010


    Did you have a good Fourth of July weekend? Technically a holiday for me today as the real day come on the Sunday. I understand it was a bit of a holiday in Norway as well – Queen Sonja’s birthday. I was pretty busy at ISTE last week and then catching up on things a bit. Oh ok a lot. So not a lot of links to share but hopefully you’ll find something worth checking out here.

    Microsoft Elevate America program reaches New Hampshire. New Hampshire is where I live to I am very happy to have NH join the growing number of states signing on to this program that provides training for workers looking for jobs.

    In news from the ACM (twitter @TheOfficialACM ) The ACM News reports that Wipro will Fund ACM Scholarships for Women Students Attending Computing Research Conferences. A lot of computing research conferences are heavily dominated by men so this program to support women attending is a good step forward towards making these events more diverse.

    Speaking of women, the Boston Globe recently did an article on  The Women Who Run Microsoft's NERD Center in Cambridge MA. I’ve meet several of these women and Microsoft is lucky to have them onboard. It’s nice to be able to share some great role models in technology careers from young women.

    Dell announced a contest last week to let a school win a Dell Connected Classroom makeover for your school! (US Competition). Hey, it could happen right?

    Interested in working for Microsoft academic relations in NYC? This is a job opening in my group (I’m not the hiring manager BTW) and could be a wonderful job for the right person. Tell them you heard about it from me. Winking smile

    Lastly I want to do a shout out and send some links to Cameron Evans, Microsoft’s CTO for US Education. His web site is at and he shares a lot of good information on education from grades K to 20. I spent a bunch of time with Cameron at ISTE and was really impressed that he “gets education.” I can’t say that about every senior person in every technology company I’ve met so I wanted to suggest you take a look at his ideas.

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