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

March, 2011

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    New XNA Jump Start Mini-course


    Microsoft recently released a new XNA Jump Start Mini-course.

    Programming with C# and XNA 0.5: Jump Start is an exciting and engaging 4-5-week introduction to simulation and game programming using the C# language and XNA Game Studio designed for students who have fundamental programming experience. The lesson materials assume prior knowledge of basic programming concepts such as data types, variables, conditionals, loops, and arrays within the context of an object-oriented language. Students with Java programming experience will be able to quickly and easily transition to C#. The curriculum package contains a curriculum syllabus, lesson plans, demonstration projects, video tutorials, lab assignments, student activities, and assessment tools with keys and exemplars. The student-directed learning resources support independent learning and free teachers to focus on pedagogy and student assessment.

    Download today I

    Update: I'm hearing problems of "path too long" issues on unpacking the ZIP file. We're working on this but in the mean time, the fastest/easiest solution is to change the name of the zip file to just a letter or 2 and save on the desktop.

    Update: We have shortened the names of some of the files and directories so much of this problem should go away. Just don't unzip it too deeply. You may want to unzip it on the desktop and move it later to be safe. Sorry about the issues.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    The Body As Mouse


    Hopefully you have heard of the Kinect for Xbox 360 by now. Perhaps you even have one. Millions of them have been sold and it has really started to change how we think about games and even dealing with the computer. It reads your body language, recognizes faces, and hears your voice. So far it has just been available to game developers though. See I keep telling people that games drive the state of the art in computer science! Well access to the Kinect device is going to open up quite a bit soon. Yes, I know there are some hacks out there that connect the Kinect to PCs but now Microsoft is planning on a Kinect SDK (software development kit) for academic and hobbyist use. (Academics, Enthusiasts to Get Kinect SDK) Yep students are a key market. That and HCI (human computer interface) researchers. What does it mean in the long run? Well the New York Times asks Microsoft’s Kinect: The New Mouse? (free registration may be required)

    What does this mean for students and teachers? For me it means a chance to get in on the ground floor of natural user interface programming (NUI). It means more than just fun and games but the start of a whole new way of interacting with computers. Honestly I have no idea what people, especially young people, will come up with but I know I can’t wait to see. The Kinect SDK is not available yet – it is coming this spring (what ever that means). But once it is available you can bet I’ll be talking more about it. And trying my own projects as well. In the mean time, start thinking about what you do would want a computer that reads your body and not just keyboard and mice movements.

    BTW I posted a bunch of links about how Kinect works on my blog back in December. Also, you can listen to a podcast of me talking about how the Kinect works by visiting I recorded that interview at Boston's Museum of Scence in February 2011. I also talk a little about what I do at Microsoft.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Register Now for CSTA's Annual CS&IT Conference 2011


    You are cordially invited to attend the 11h annual Computer Science & Information Technology Symposium at Columbia University Faculty House in New York, NY!

    July 11, 12, & 13, 2011 Columbia University, New York

    • July 11: Hands-on Workshops
    • July 12: Keynotes and Breakouts
    • July 13: Imagine Cup Activities

    This CSTA conference is a professional development opportunity for computer science and information technology teachers who need practical, classroom focused information to help them prepare their students for the future.

    Symposium Opportunities for Learning:

    • Take advantage of this opportunity for relevant professional development!
    • Explore issues and trends relating directly to your classroom
    • Network with top professionals from across the country
    • Interact with other teachers to gain new perspectives on shared challenges

    Act now to register for Symposium 2011 at:

    Pre-registration is required and will be accepted for the first 250 teachers. You will receive a letter of confirmation when your registration is processed that will include the final agenda and location details. Registration deadline is June 28, 2011. Also please note that you must complete the Google checkout in order to be fully registered for the conference!

    Find more information (including the full agenda) at:

    Thanks to the generous donations of our sponsors, the registration fee of $40 (+$50 per workshop) includes lunches, resource materials, conference reception, raffle, and exciting Microsoft Imagine Cup activities in New York City.

    Please note that all workshops are “bring your own laptop” and that registration is limited to 25-30 participants so please be sure to register early to get your workshop choice.

    The 2011 CSTA CS&IT conference is made possible by the generous support of Microsoft Research, Google, and the Anita Borg Institute.

    Please join us for this exciting event!

    Chris Stephenson
    CSIT Conference Chair
    Duncan Buell
    Program Chair
    Dave Reed
    Workshop Chair

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