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

June, 2012

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Microsoft Store Summer Camps are Now Open for Registration!

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    Microsoft Store Summer Camps are Now Open for Registration!


    Our 2012 Summer Camps are first come, first served. Don't wait to register your child for one of these four hands-on camps. Go to
    www.microsoftstore.com/summercamps, select your location, and register for one of our four camps!

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    *The parent, legal guardian or authorized adult caregiver of every camp participant must remain in the Microsoft Store for the duration of the event.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    My IT Department Will Not Let Me

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    Today on Facebook Gary Stager posted a rant of a status update:

    Here's a novel idea. Don't send teachers to computing PD with laptops on which they are banned from installing software.
    Teachers are neither imbeciles or felons and they do not work for the IT staff. The IT staff works for the teachers.

    This is a sentiment I can relate to very well. And yes I have blogged about it before but I see so little progress on this. I talk to teachers pretty regularly. I’m also on a number of industry advisory boards for programming and web development programs at career/technical high schools. It amazes me how often the answer to the question “Why don’t you use/do …” is “IT will not let me.” It is as if someone said “students are only allowed to read books that the librarian selects and the English department doesn’t have any input.” Can you see that happening? Of course not! A good librarian gets the books that teachers ask for and makes them available.

    I highlighted “The IT staff works for the teachers.” up above for a reason. That is the way is should be but all to often that is not the way it works in reality. I’ve even heard superintendents of schools say “The IT department will not let me.” Can you imagine the CEO of a publicly operated company saying that? Not likely! Oh the IT department may recommend alternative paths but in the end their job will be to find a way for the CEO to get the results that he wants. Why doesn’t this happen in schools? One word – fear.

    Schools are afraid of so many technology related things. They are afraid that their students will go places on the Internet that are inappropriate and the school will be blamed. And they are not all wrong! Schools are afraid that students will mess up the computers so that the IT department (chronically understaffed usually) will have to do extra unnecessary work. And this does happen. Schools are afraid that students will hack into the school’s databases and change grades. Just ask the IT department and they will tell you that students are evil malicious hackers. Let’s ignore the fact that a well-trained IT department could easily prevent that without the sorts of lock downs that most resort to because, well for what schools pay, it’s hard to get really top notch IT people in the first place. They do exist in some schools and some are truly outstanding. They, like teachers, make a lifestyle decision and have a commitment to education.

    Why IT departments don’t trust computer science teachers I don’t really understand. Seriously many of the CS teachers I run into know more than their IT departments about system and network management. Even the ones who don’t know more at least know more than enough about how to select and install software safely. They are also past masters at managing a room full of kids using technology. SIGH It’s just so frustrating sometimes.

    I think we need to find a way to make a sort of meeting of the minds between school IT people, teachers in general and especially computer science teachers. Perhaps if the IT departments had a bit more time and resources to train more teachers they’d have more faith in them. Perhaps if more school IT people spent more time talking to CS teachers and really trying to understand what they were trying to accomplish in their classrooms and how much the CS teachers actually knew there would be more of a partnership.

    But failing all of that I just wish more school administrators (especially superintendents) would make sure that school IT people know that their job in the school was to empower teachers to teach and not just to make system management as easy as possible.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Latest Curriculum Resources at the Faculty Connection

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    The latest Microsoft Faculty Connection Newsletter came yesterday. I thought it might be useful to highlight some of the news from this issue here.

    The Faculty Connection Newsletter highlights new curriculum resources and other useful educational content for use in the classroom. If this newsletter was forwarded to you, please subscribe today and receive a new edition each month.

    CURRICULUM RESOURCES

    The Faculty Connection Resource Center is a multi-language collection including curriculum materials developed by Microsoft or contributed by faculty worldwide. Highlighted below are some of the newest resources added this past month:

    Game Development with XNA and Microsoft Technologies on Windows Phone 7: Semester 2
    The Game Development with XNA and Microsoft Technologies: Windows Phone 7 Development Module is a six-week, three-unit Module for students in high school and above who have XNA programming experience. It is intended to be used after the
    XNA Game Development: Semester 1 curriculum.

    Introduction to Web Design Using Microsoft Expression Studio 4: Module 2 - HTML5
    This curriculum, for use with Microsoft Expression Studio 4, is a complete, standards-based, single semester course on web design. Module 2 on HTML5 reflects the most recent standards of the W3C (as of May 2012).

    TOP STORIES

    Windows Azure
    New Windows Azure Services deliver "hybrid cloud"
    New Windows Azure services simplify building applications that span cloud and on-premises servers. Some highlights include:

    • Virtual Machines allow you to move your Windows Server and Linux virtual hard disks (VHDs) back and forth between on-premises and the cloud.
    • Virtual Network, which lets you provision and manage virtual private networks (VPNs) in Windows Azure as well as securely extend on-premises networks into the cloud.
    • Windows Azure Web Sites offer easy deployment of open source applications like WordPress, Joomla!, DotNetNuke, Umbraco, and Drupal.
    • This release provides updated support for Java, PHP, and .NET, and the addition of Python as a supported language on Windows Azure.
    • The SDK now provides 100% command line support for both Windows and Mac.

    Educators interested in using Windows Azure in their courses can apply for a free 5-month pass, no credit card required. Try it yourself and provide free access to your students too. Also, check out the latest Cloud Computing curriculum resources available on Faculty Connection as well as the presentations and videos from the Cloud Futures 2012 event held at UC Berkeley in May.

    Vote in the Imagine Cup People's Choice Awards
    Vote for your favorite Imagine Cup finalists for the Imagine Cup People's Choice Awards, ready for public voting on June 20. The winning team with the top voted solution to one of the world's toughest problems will be announced on stage at the Worldwide Finals and will receive $10,000 USD.

    Visual Studio 2012 Release Candidate now available for download
    Now available for download, Visual Studio 2012 2012 RC offers an improved setup experience (you won't even need to uninstall the beta!), better performance, user interface and, when installed with Windows 8 Release Preview, enhancements for building Metro style apps.

    WebMatrix2 Release Candidate is now available
    WebMatrix2WebMatrix is a free web development tool from Microsoft that lets you quickly and easily create, customize, and publish a web site or application. WebMatrix is optimized for open source web apps such as WordPress, Umbraco, and Joomla, and designed for popular technologies such as PHP, Node, and ASP.NET. It was built with developers looking to scale with cloud or mobile by providing simple Azure publishing functionality and extensions for mobile enabled sites. WebMatrix looks to stand above the rest by providing support for top databases such as SQL Server, SEO, and contextual assistance. WebMatrix will continue to be enhanced with extensions from the community. Download the WebMatrix2 RC now.

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