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

March, 2011

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    What Is Computer Science All About


    One of the big questions that comes up time and again is “what is computer science all about?” Get a bunch of computer science people in a room and you’ll get almost as many answers as there are computer science people.I don’t have what I think of as a great answer myself. Since I ran into a number of pithy statements on the subject lately I thought I would bring the question to my blog audience.  I was reading a blog post by Rob Miles last week and came across this quote:

    […] try to get a feel for programming and what it is all about. A clue: it is not really mathematics, it is more about organization.

    I do believe that organization is a key piece of computer science in general and hugely important in programming. That is one reason why I believe so many boys take so long to get their code right – they are not used to planning and organization.

    Eugene Wallingford linked to a tweet by Lance Fortnow that also relates.


    Now obviously he should be using Bing to do his Internet searching but that aside he has a good point. Over on Facebook where I put this question Dave Klappholz replies.


    If only there wasn’t as much controversy over what computational thinking is as there is over computer science. Those are all comments by computer science faculty members who teach at the university level BTW. Smart people – real computer scientists. I did a search on Bing for "what is computer science all about" and there were 32 replies – most of which look really useful. Wikipedia says

    Computer science or computing science (abbreviated CS) is the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and of practical techniques for their implementation and application in computer systems”

    Reasonable but boring. And not quite a one liner for high school students. Do you discuss what computer science is? What do you tell your students? What do they tell you?

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    CS Principles AP Course Pilots Wanted


    As many of you know there is a new AP CS course, APCS Principles, under development. A second round of pilot courses is planned for next school year and the program is actively seeking schools/faculty to sign up to take part.  While there is programming involved the overall focus is on basic principles. One of the really great things about this course is that it is designed to be programming language independent. SO if you have ever thought it would be nice to teach an AP CS course using Visual Basic (I have), or C# (why no?), or Small Basic, or even C++ (like it used to be.) Or what ever your favorite teaching programming language is this may be your opportunity. It is a chance to influence the direction of the APCS program like I have not seen before.

    From the interest web page (

    In the academic year 2010-2011 five college/university sites are piloting the CS Principles course. The pilot sites were chosen from those schools represented on the CS Principles Advisory Board.

    In the academic year 2011-2012 more schools will be participating in the second phase of the pilot. For some schools we will offer financial support to assist in the pilot, but we hope that many schools will choose to participate in the pilot without financial support, but with access to materials developed to support the course and its delivery.

    The second pilot will be open to high schools as well as to four year colleges and universities. We hope to open the pilot to community colleges as well and actively seek interest from all these types of institutions.

    If you are interested in piloting the course in the 2011-2012 academic year please fill out the brief form [at ] We will be contacting you with more information in May or June to provide information about how the second phase of the pilot will go forward.

    I’d be interesting in hearing from anyone who is applying to be a pilot and if I can help out with Microsoft resources let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Free Pluralsight On-demand Training via Dreamspark


    pluralsight Microsoft is constantly adding software and other benefits to the DreamSparak program. The latest of these benefits is the opportunity for students to get access to Pluralsight online training. This is professional training from one of the top training companies in the computer industry. Microsoft frequently hires them to train Microsoft employees! Now students who are members of DreamSpark can get access to it for free – an amazing bargain and opportunity. More information at the Dreamspark website.

    Pluralsight provides high-quality training solutions for Microsoft .NET developers that can fit any schedule or budget. The revolutionary Pluralsight On-Demand! training library provides developers with instant access to a rich collection of online training courses delivered by industry authorities. Through this special DreamSpark offer you will receive a FREE 90-day subscription to all of the courses found in the Pluralsight On-Demand! training library. Happy learning!


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