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

June, 2012

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Studio K – Program to make Kodu Curriculum and Tools more accessible in Classrooms



    The other day the Kodu team announced Studio K. What is Studio K you ask?  In my opinion it’s the biggest curriculum, teaching and overall educational news about Kodu since Kodu was announced. From the announcement on the Kodu blog:

    Collaborating with Microsoft and the Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) Foundation, the Educational Research group at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has created the curriculum and tools to make video game design programs such as Microsoft Kodu more accessible in K-12 classrooms.

    More from the  Studio K website:

    Studio K is a game design curriculum, online community, and set of teacher-support tools intended to enable teachers to help learners how to make their own video games using Microsoft Kodu. Kodu is a powerful 3D game design and programming tool that enables users to focus on creating compelling games for their friends.

    The Studio K curriculum is designed to support the development of computational thinking skills and problem solving skills. Policymakers have identified computational thinking as a critical set of skills that students must be equipped with in order to be successful in STEM careers, as well as to fully participate in today's and tomorrow's creative society.

    If data and if something is actually helping students to learn are of interest to you as they are to most people serious about education and avoiding fads just because they are the latest cool technology there are aspects of this program you will be particularly interested in. Ben Shapiro, a UW-Madison researcher who leads the project says “But we’re also giving teachers learning analytics tools, including data visualizations, to monitor students’ progress, see when students are stuck or need help, and give specific feedback about learning.”

    If you have thought at all about incorporating Kodu and gaming into your elementary or middle school curriculum you will want to check this out. Also if you are looking for STEM programs for after school programs, summer recreation programs or camps, or other after school activates this is something you want to look into as well. I think it’s pretty exciting.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Interesting Links 18 June 2012


    Some of you may remember that I was nominated for the  Top 30 Fascinating Technology Teacher blog voting. I came in at number 7. Thanks to all of you who voted for me.

    Over at the CS Principles @ North blog is a nice post about  'Who can teach CS Principles?' that those of you following the development of this new AP CS exam.

    Jimmy Edwards @Jimmy_Edwards is an innovative teacher in the UK who has created a KINECT Green Screen application for use in his school. On his blog you  an see a video demo and get the actual code.

    A link from the @MSTechStudent twitter account sent out a link to some free downloads of code samples for Windows 8 - C#, VB, C++,  and JavaScript

    Microsoft and Dell empower students with accessible technology and training.

    A day in the life of an entrepreneur is a story and video about a friend of mine who runs a small chain of restaurants in Singapore and Indonesia. In the interview he talks about how he uses technology in the running of his business. He uses social media to build relationships with his customers and various software to manage the finances. It’s a great story for kids who think about creating non-computer businesses doesn’t involve computers.

    Xbox Kinect Applications To Health And Medicine yet another way that Kinect is being used in serious non-gaming ways.

    A Day in the Life of a Teacher a comparison of Office 360 and Google apps for education.

    @Microsoft & @Harvard are teaming up in South Africa to develop an HIV vaccine using Microsoft's anti-spam technology!

    Imagine Cup Alumni Spotlight: David Hayden and Team Note-Taker Read this interesting story in the Geek Dad column of Wired online.

    Erin (Ed) Donahue @creepyed posted a SCREENCAST: How to Quickly Create Windows Phone Icons. Create your app tile icons for Windows Phone applications and the marketplace  super fast!

    Channel 9 has a nice new video on Building Windows 8 Metro style casual games using HTML 5

    Microsoft Research has a new Women in Computing page as part of their diversity and outreach efforts. Check it out!

    Microsoft Resources for technical educators and students has a lot of useful links all in one place.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Why I Love Windows Live Mesh


    It could be argued that I have too many computers. There is my cool demo machine – Samsung 9. There is my backup machine. There is my Windows 8 machine (which I am using more and more and which I may upgrade my demo machine to real soon now). And there is my personally owned laptop. Oh and I am expecting a tablet real soon now! I tend to grab which ever one suits my current needs and goals and get to work. So here is the issue. Suppose the files I want to use are not on that computer? That would be frustrating at best and really bad at worst. It’s hard to anticipate what you will need on a business trip for example. Or during a meeting. And with code, well, I am always looking to reuse code. So what’s one to do? For me the answer is Windows Live Mesh.

    With Windows Live Mesh I sync my key data folders across all of my computers seamlessly and automatically. So for example if I am fooling around with some code while watching TV and want to be able to access it later on a work computer I just save the project into the synced folder called My Code that I created. All of my blog posts (posted and in draft form) are in a My Blog Posts and I can get to them from any computer at any time without me having to do anything special.

    Of course another cool feature is that I can share folders with other individuals as well. We all get access to the latest copies of files without tedious emailing, sneaker netting or issues with “who has the latest draft?” I’ve really come to depend on this tool. And that doesn’t include all of the remote access features!

    You may have seen the Windows TV commercial featuring a couple stranded at the airport with nothing to do. Thankfully they were able to go "to the cloud" to access their home PC and watch a recorded show on their laptop. How exactly did they do this? They used Windows Live Mesh.

    This is just the tool for people with multiple computers. Situations like one computer at work or school and another one at home for example. Or school/work team projects. I don’t know how I lived without it.

    You hear talk about “the cloud” all the time and think “well that is for big businesses” and to some extent it is. But there is a more personal side and Live Mesh is part of that. Oh and its free!

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