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

February, 2012

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Big Brother Knows More Than You Think


    And by Big Brother I don’t mean the government. No, I mean the companies you do business with. If you want to get mildly freaked out (or majorly league freaked out depending on your nature) read this article in Forbes How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did. Oh and if you are installing apps on your phone take a look at this post on the Blogs at CACM - Most Smartphone Apps are Spyware. Now most of these stores are about practices that are intended to benign at worst and helpful to the consumer at their best. Of course they are designed to be helpful to the company collecting and using the data in all cases. Good, evil, neutral? That’s a topic for discussion.

    The technology is pretty interesting though. In some ways it is taking traditional relationship building and expanding it so that it scales for huge impersonal businesses. Patronizing small local shops used to mean buying things from people who knew you, knew you family, and knew your friends. News about you and any changes in your life or situation would be quickly known to the people you did business with on a regular basis. Was that data mining? Not in the way we think of it today of course but it was a fact that people knew people and that allowed them to offer more personal service.

    In those days it would still have been weird if the shopkeeper knew that an underage girl was pregnant before her father did. It would not have been so weird if the shopkeeper who talked to everyone in the neighborhood knew someone was pregnant before many other people around town or even in the family.  Good business people have always worked hard to know their customers. Today we just have access to a whole lot of data about a whole lot more people than a small businessperson could ever gather let alone evaluate. Is it the scale or the accuracy that make today’s data mining different? Or is it just that we want our big box stores to be anonymous and impersonal?

    These are important issues for people studying computer science, management information systems, and other related fields. It’s not just about legal issues. It’s a lot more compacted than that. As one quote in the Forbes article said “We are very conservative about compliance with all privacy laws. But even if you’re following the law, you can do things where people get queasy.”  Things like this involve people and emotions as well as privacy and legal responsibilities. We tend to focus on the technical issues and look at what can be done. What should be done can be a totally different set of questions. The sooner students start thinking about these questions the better off we’ll all be in the long run.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Partners in Learning 2012 US Forum–Reminder


    I know I keep blogging about this event but it really is a great event and I really hope many of you apply for this wonderful opportunity to showcase your work with innovations in teaching CS and technology. It is one of the most exciting teacher competitions ever! Check it out! A cool trip and prizes! And a chance to meet and learn from some of the most energetic and energizing to say nothing of innovative teachers in America!

    Oh and projects that use Visual Studio, XNA, Kinect SDK, Windows Phone SDK, Expression Studio or many other Microsoft developer and designer tools are eligible for a special prize of an Xbox 360 + Kinect.

    Partners in Learning 2012 US Forum     July 31 – August 1 in Redmond, WA


    Be Recognized for Your Innovative Teaching

    Are you using technology to improve the teaching and learning experience? Have you implemented technology in innovative ways to engage students and inspire creative thinking? 

    Compete for recognition as a 2012 Microsoft Innovative Educator and see firsthand what other innovative educators from across the United States are doing.

    Don't miss this unique opportunity to collaborate with your peers, develop new skills and gain new perspectives.

    Who should apply?

    • Educators or teams of two educators leading class projects that use technology to positively impact student learning
    • School leaders directing programs and initiatives that use technology to enhance education throughout the school community

    Watch a short video, learn more and apply at:

    The application for the Microsoft Partners in Learning 2012 US Forum is available now and is open to all U.S. K-12 educators. Deadline to apply is May 15, 2012. (Early decision deadline April 1).

    Applicants who are accepted to the Forum will have their expenses to the Forum paid by Microsoft.

    For more information contact

    Related posts:

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  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    ACM/IEEE-CS Computer Science Curricula 2013 - Strawman draft


    Over the weekend, the ACM/IEEE-CS Computer Science Curricula 2013 committee (of which I am a member) released the first public from this effort. (The announcement follows my comments). The Strawman draft is not a complete document as some additions, most importantly exemplar curriculums, are yet to be made. It is however ready for public comments on the content that is there. This is a major first step and we hope there will be some positive and constructive discussions about this curricula.  It is useful to remind people what this is not though. It is not the recommendations for Computer Engineering, Information Systems, Information Technology or Software Engineering. There are separate documents for all of those fields which you can find on the ACM Curricula Recommendations page. There you can also find the Computing Curricula 2005: The Overview Report which  provides undergraduate curriculum guidelines for all five defined sub-disciplines of computing.

    The importance of this document to faculty of higher education is, one hopes, obvious but these are not the only people it should be important to. People in industry should be aware of what a computer science degree means and how it is different from the other degrees in computing. Secondary school educators should be able to explain to their students what they are “getting into” but should also see this document as a chance to learn what areas of computer science are core to the field of study. The comment period opens soon and I’ll post about that when it happens. For now though the document is out there and you can start reading it. It’s good stuff.


    We are delighted to announce the availability of the ACM/IEEE-CS Computer Science Curricula 2013 - Strawman draft. The draft is available at the CS2013 website ( or directly at


    Continuing a process that began over 40 years ago with the publication of "Curriculum 68", the major professional societies in computing--ACM and IEEE-Computer Society--have sponsored efforts to establish international curricular guidelines for undergraduate programs in computing on roughly a 10-year cycle. This volume, Computer Science Curricula 2013 (CS2013), represents a comprehensive revision of previous computer science curricular guidelines, redefining the knowledge units in CS and rethinking the essentials necessary for a Computer Science curriculum.


    The CS2013 Steering Committee welcomes comment on the CS2013 Strawman draft from the computing community. The comment period will begin shortly (additional information on how to provide comments will be sent out in a few days) and remain open until July 15, 2012. Comments on the Strawman draft will be addressed in future drafts of CS2013.


    A panel session at SIGCSE-12 will provide a brief overview of CS2013 and provide the opportunity for in-person feedback from the community on the Strawman draft. The panel session is scheduled for Thursday, March 1, 2012 at 10:45am-12noon in Room 301AB.

    Warm regards,

    Mehran Sahami and Steve Roach
    Co-Chairs, CS2013 Steering Committee

    CS2013 Steering Committee

    ACM Delegation

    • Mehran Sahami, Chair (Stanford University)
    • Andrea Danyluk (Williams College)
    • Sally Fincher (University of Kent)
    • Kathleen Fisher (Tufts University)
    • Dan Grossman (University of Washington)
    • Beth Hawthorne (Union County College)
    • Randy Katz (UC Berkeley)
    • Rich LeBlanc (Seattle University)
    • Dave Reed (Creighton University)

    IEEE-CS Delegation

    • Steve Roach, Chair (Univ. of Texas, El Paso)
    • Ernesto Cuadros-Vargas (Univ. Catolica San Pablo, Peru)
    • Ronald Dodge (US Military Academy)
    • Robert France (Colorado State University)
    • Amruth Kumar (Ramapo Coll. of New Jersey)
    • Brian Robinson (ABB Corporation)
    • Remzi Seker (Univ. of Arkansas, Little Rock)
    • Alfred Thompson (Microsoft)

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