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

February, 2012

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Interesting Links 20 February 2012


    Happy President’s Day! Not a day off for me but still a good day. Hope you are all off to a good start as well. I think I have some good links to share today. So without wasting any more time have a look at the links below.

    Want to Get and Keep a Job…Coding Seems to be the Key Tara Walker comments on some news about there being jobs for people who can code. Pretty big deal in this economy. I am constantly amazed at schools that are cutting back on computer science education at a time when we really should be doing more. BTW if you are in Georgia some of the workshops Tara has coming up may be of interest to you. It’s all in her blog post.

    CS Teacher education ain't what it should be blog post by Garth Flint. Garth has some strong opinions and some good ideas about what sort of education people who teach computer science should have. He’s given it a lot of thought and his post makes an interesting read. Also last week Mark Guzdial writes about Two CS Endorsement programs in Georgia!

    Success Story: Mrs Marien on the path leading up to her student's visit with President Obama Young Hannah demonstrated her Kodu project for President Obama last week. In this post her teacher fills you in on the backstory.  It’s a great story of a teacher empowering her students and one girl to takes a project and runs with it.

    Are you using Scratch from MIT in your school? You may want to know about Scratch Day 2012. It will be May 19th this year.

    Scratch Day is a worldwide network of gatherings, where people come together to meet other Scratchers, share projects and experiences, and learn more about Scratch.

    Microsoft Research launches, a 3-D visualization and storytelling tool for Earth scientists. Read more about it at A New Way to Visualize Earth 

    Great guest post by Kelli Etheredge (@ketheredge) on Changing Perceptions of Teachers

    |i]f you ask Etheredge what she’d most like to change about education in the US, she’s quick to answer. “This overall characterization and stereotype of all teachers and all schools as being boring and inept,” says Etheredge. “It’s simply wrong.

    Something of interest for game making students - National STEM Video Game Challenge TweetChat

    Kinect-based DarwinBot lets you remotely play with and talk to your pet. A pretty cool robot project using a variety of Microsoft technologies.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    How To Start A Computer Science Flame War


    Computer Scientists and computer professionals who may not think of themselves as “scientists” and hackers who just think of themselves as awesome are all opinionated people. Over the  years I have learned of several what I would call religious arguments. These are topics that are always great for starting a discussion (ok maybe even the online equivalent of a bar brawl) among computer people. Those who teach are, it seems, even more susceptible to these sorts of things. I thought I might just list a few of these for the fun of it.

    Language Wars

    • Java is horrible/ Java is the answer – related is write once run everywhere vs. write once debug everywhere
    • Real programmers use {assembly, C, C++, Scheme, you name it} Implying that people who use other languages are fake programmers perhaps?
    • The best first programming language is (assembly, C, C++. Java, you name it} To get people really going recommend Visual Basic as I do. I’m right of course but you’d never know it to listen to some people. Smile
    • Functional programming is the answer!  What’s the question again?
    • For Linux/UNIX users the arguments over the best shells can go on for a long time as well. And of course “are shells programming languages?” is a closely related part of the issue.
    • case sensitive vs. case insensitive
    • late binding vs. early binding

    Operating Systems Wars

    • Apple vs. Windows vs. Linux – enough said – you all know where I stand on that one.
    • Command line operation is the way to go vs. you can do it with GUI – this one gets into what a power user is all about. I think it should be about “your OS is really poor if you have to use a command line more than once a month.” Whoops I think I let my feelings show again. Sorry.
    • Virtual machines are the future vs. virtual machines are too slow and inefficient for real time (or any time critical) applications Everyone seems to think their apps are the standard that all should be measured against.

    Teaching Wars

    • HTML & web development is not computer science vs. oh yes it is!
    • Objects early objects late, objects in parallel, objects never
    • The AP CS course is great – oh no its not.Now they are developing a second APCS course that we can argue about!

    General Wars

    • GPL is the best/worst license ever Related are “that’s not a true open source license” about several “approved” OSS licenses. “What is open source” is always good to start people fighting discussing.
    • Everyone should use Open Source for everything vs. Proprietary software has an important role and is not intrinsically evil. Basically anything you bring up OSS vs Proprietary software and someone suggests that they are incompatible and that one is good and one is evil you’ll get a fight  discussion. In fact if you argue that they can co-exist you’ll get a fight discussion in many cases as well. No peace in this fight discussion.
    • EMACS vs. vi vs. Are you really using an old fashioned text editor in the 21st century with the great IDEs we have today?

    The really unfortunate thing is that there is value in discussing all of these things. Not in fighting over them but a fair and honest discussion of the merits of different sides in different contexts. There is really no right or wrong answer. There are few absolutes here (if any at all.) It’s just unfortunate that we too often let ourselves become polarized and closed-minded. Something that needs to happen in education is to teach students how to discuss without fighting. To evaluate based on contexts, concepts, and principles rather than emotions, politics and absolutes. Can we do that? I think we need to if the discipline is going to grow as a profession.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    National STEM Video Game Challenge TweetChat


    The National STEM Video Game challenge kicked off a couple of months ago but it starting to come down to the wire. IF you missed the spring deadline for the Imagine Cup you can still enter this event though.clip_image002

    Inspired by the Educate to Innovate Campaign, President Obama’s initiative to promote a renewed focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education, the National STEM Video Game Challenge is a multi-year competition whose goal is to motivate interest in STEM learning among America’s youth by tapping into students’ natural passion for playing and making video games.

    To help people get more information and to discuss youth game design and game-based learning!

    You are Invited to the
    U.S. News & World Report and AMD STEM Challenge TweetChat


    Date: February 22, 2012
    Time: 4:15 p.m. – 5:15 p.m. ET
      Stay up-to-date on the #STEMchat conversation by following @changingthegame & @jason_koebler! Use the #STEMchat hashtag during the chat so you don't miss anything.

    #STEMchat conversation panelists include @STEMChallenge, @CooneyCenter, @GetGameSmart, @pbskids, @ELineMedia and @ErikatESA.

    Visit the
    National STEM Video Game Challenge website for more information about the Challenge.

    Every 10 minutes, one randomly selected registered participant will receive exciting gifts from the participating organizations.

    Instructions on how to join:
    TweetChat link
    Enter hastag #STEMchat at the top of the page to join the conversation

    To register, please email your name and Twitter handle, and follow @changingthegame and @jason_koebler.

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