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

July, 2012

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Interesting Links 30 July 2012

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    WP_000479Over on the left here is a picture of a group of young women who visited Microsoft in Cambridge MA recently as part of Boston University’s Artemis Project. This is one of several groups of young people that we have hosted this summer. It’s great to see kids getting excited about STEM in general and computer science in particular. I’m glad that universities are running programs like this and that companies (these students had field trips to several hi-tech companies during the program) are being supportive.

    But it is interesting links day at my blog so here are some of the links I found over the last week to share with you.

    How Do I (Channel 9) http://channel9.msdn.com/Blogs/How-Do-I Is a new Channel 9 series to help developers learn how to do things with Windows 8. Not unrelated are a bunch of hands on labs that I wrote about at Virtual Windows 8 Hands-on-Labs.

    A pair of posts on the CSTA blog last week relate to policy and activism in support of K-12 computer science. Chris Stephenson writes about Interest in K-12 Policy Growing  at the Snowbird Conference in Utah. Also Lissa Clayborn writes about : Five Advocacy Actions You Can Do in Ten Minutes or Less

    Also in the news from CSTA is that downloadable versions of the speaker presentations from CS & IT 2012 are now available! SO if you missed the whole conference or just some sessions you wanted to see you can at least get the presentation slides and notes.

    Looking at how to better keep you school’s labs and networks running? You may want to look at this program where  students get hands-on, real-world experience in this "Lab Manager" program that seems to be working pretty darn well!

    How in the world does CS Bits & Bytes newsletter have only 1100 subscribers? This bi-weekly newsletter from the National Science Foundation is a wonderful educational resource. Check it out!

    Have you seen how the  23 acre AIDS Memorial Quilt goes digital with support from Microsoft Research? One very moving project that also highlights the way computers can help us with social issues as well as with “big data.” 

     



  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Curriculum is Hard

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    I’ve been involved in a number of curriculum projects over the years. The big one has been the ACM/IEEE CS 2013 task force that is making recommendations on undergraduate computer science curriculum. (The CS2013 Strawman draft is now available here. ) I am so glad there are so many really smart and knowledgeable people on that committee! I’ve also been involved with some smaller efforts. Most recently I was invited to meet with a committee working on the Vocational Technical Education Frameworks for Programming and Web Development programs of study in Massachusetts career/technical schools. Once again some great educators working on that project and I try to stay out of the way as much as I try to help out. But as I was sitting in on this latest meeting it really struck me that developing details curriculum plans for a multi-year program is hard work. More that that I think it is just about impossible for one person to do well.

    Oh one person can do it. But well? Well enough for broad adoption? Probably not.But even committees can be tough. In some ways this should have been brought home by some of the news stories out of Texas’ discussions of history curriculum but that struck me as politicians meddling (as politicians are want to do) and not educators working on something they actually know something about. But as I realize that some subjects are too large to include everything (by some definition of everything) in the time (usually not enough) that is allowed there are bound to be disagreements on priorities.

    I’m sure this is true in all disciplines but boy do we have problems in computer science. First off our field is much too large. Arguably it needs to be split up into smaller pieces. I can’t see agreement on what those pieces should be and what should go where coming easily though. Given that state everyone has their biases about what is more important than what else. With the CS 2013 effort we are trying to fit everything into four years of college. With this VTE Framework we’re dealing with two years. Ouch! Fortunately Programming and Web Development programs in career/technical schools are not trying to do what four year universities are.

    There is a lot of give and take in meetings like these. Lots of discussion of priorities (what is absolutely required) and how much time can/should/must be spent on different topics. These are efforts that really demand committees (which is not true about every task that is assigned to a committee) or at least working teams greater than one (or two or three). Individuals are more likely to forget things that are important even to themselves. The back and forth of discussion various topics can give a clarity that is missing in an individual effort. Yes there are often some tough discussions. A committee can spend a lot of time on a seemingly small  topic. Ultimately that work pays off in clarity and in decisions that are well worked out. A lot of hard work and time and even stress. No matter what you decide someone is going to disagree with the results. It’s human nature.

    Even with the work these committees are something educators should stand up and volunteer for these efforts. Why? I’ve learned a ton on these committees!

    I’m sure that not every educator is thrilled when new frameworks/guidelines.recommendations come out. It often means change and change means more work and can be uncomfortable. It sometimes means that way someone has been doing things for a long time is challenged. But in the long run I think these efforts are necessary. This is especially true in a field like computer science that is constantly changing and at a rapid rate.

    The next step for many educators is going to be “how do I cover the topics in the framework/guidelines/recommendations?” For computer science educators that can be tough because they are so often alone in their schools. On the plus side it means a chance to be creative!

    OK, yeah, creativity is work too. But if teaching were easy everyone would do it.

     



  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Virtual Windows 8 Hands-on-Labs

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    Ready to learn how to develop for Windows 8? Well perhaps not quite ready for a dedicated machine or concerned about complicated set-up? Well in those cases the new Virtual Windows 8 hands-on-labs may be just what you need!

    What are virtual labs? 

    Microsoft Virtual Labs enable you to quickly evaluate and test Microsoft's newest products and technologies through a series of guided, hands-on labs that you can complete in 90 minutes or less. There is no complex setup or installation required, and you can use MSDN Virtual Labs online immediately, free.

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    New! Windows 8 Release Preview Virtual Labs

    Windows is the premiere development platform. With Windows 8, developers can leverage their existing skills and code assets to create Metro style apps. Step into these virtual labs and learn how to build, share and sell interesting and easy-to-use applications that will make your customers happy. Virtual labs are simple –no complex setup or installation required.

    Landing page:  http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/jj206431.aspx

    Windows 8 Release Preview Virtual Labs

    · MSDN Virtual Lab: Windows 8: Lab 1 - Creating a Windows 8 Metro Style App - C#
    Contoso Cookbook is a series of hands on labs designed to immerse you into Windows 8 Metro style app development. In this first lab in the series, you will use XAML and C# to create the application, implement navigation, download the data from Windows Azure (or load it locally if you don’t have an Internet connection), and connect the data to controls using data binding.

    · MSDN Virtual Lab: Windows 8: Lab 2 - Orientation, Snapping, and Semantic Zoom - C#
    In this lab, you will build upon Lab 1 by adding three important UI-related features to Contoso Cookbook. First, you will customize the layout of the item-detail and group-detail pages when the screen is rotated. Next, you will customize the layout of the item-detail page when the application is snapped. Finally, you will implement semantic zoom in the start page, enabling users to zoom out and see all the recipe groups on a single screen.

    · MSDN Virtual Lab: Windows 8: Lab 3 - Searching and Sharing - C#
    In this lab, you will add support for searching and sharing to Contoso Cookbook. You will get first-hand experience implementing searching and sharing contracts, and learn how these contracts provide a higher level of integration between either two Metro style apps or an app and Windows itself.

    · MSDN Virtual Lab: Windows 8: Lab 4 - Application Bars and Media Capture - C#
    In this lab, you will enhance Contoso Cookbook by allowing users to capture photos and videos of their favorite recipes and share them with other applications. You will also add an application bar that provides shortcuts to these features and learn how to incorporate popup menus into application bar commands.

    · MSDN Virtual Lab: Windows 8: Lab 5 - Process Lifetime Management - C#
    In this lab, you will learn about Process Lifetime Management. Process Lifetime Management, or PLM, is one of the most important concepts for a developer building Metro style apps to understand. Unlike traditional Windows applications, which continue to execute even when they are in the background, Metro style apps only execute when they are in the foreground.

    · MSDN Virtual Lab: Windows 8: Lab 6 - Settings and Preferences - C#
    In this lab, you’ll add About and Preferences commands to the settings pane in Contoso Cookbook. You’ll expose a simple user preference that can be toggled on and off with a toggle switch, and you’ll use roaming settings to store that preference so it will follow users wherever they go.

    · MSDN Virtual Lab: Windows 8: Lab 7 - Tiles and Notifications - C#
    In this lab, you will get first-hand experience with secondary tiles, push notifications, and toasts by adding them to Contoso Cookbook. At the conclusion, users will be able to pin favorite recipes to the start screen with secondary tiles, see tiles updated by the Windows Notification Service, and see scheduled toasts in action.

    · MSDN Virtual Lab: Windows 8: Lab 8 - The Windows Store - C#
    In this lab, you will use the Windows Store APIs to monetize Contoso Cookbook. First you will modify the about box to detect trial versions and include a purchase button if the app has not been paid for. Next, you will use CurrentAppSimulator to simulate a purchase when the purchase button is clicked. Finally, you will simulate in-app purchases by offering Italian recipes as a paid add-on rather than for free.

    · MSDN Virtual Lab: Windows 8: Lab 9 - Touch and Pointer Input – C#
    In this lab, you’ll take a preexisting photo-editing app named Contoso Photo and add touch support to turn it into a fully functional application. You’ll add support for simple gestures such as taps and double-taps, and you’ll build in support for pinch-zooms as well as for dragging and panning. In addition, you’ll make sure all of it works with a mouse so the application is equally at home on devices that lack touch screens. Sound appealing? Then let’s dive into the world of touch and see what it takes to build a great touch-enabled Metro-style app.

    · MSDN Virtual Lab: Windows 8: Lab 1 - Creating a Windows 8 Metro Style App - JavaScript
    In this first lab in the series, you will use HTML and Javascript to create the application, implement the navigation, download the data from a REST based service, and connect the data to controls using data binding.

    · MSDN Virtual Lab: Windows 8: Lab 2 - Orientation, Snapping, and Semantic Zoom - JavaScript
    In this lab, you will build upon Lab 1 by adding three important UI-related features to Contoso Cookbook. First, you will customize the layout of the item-detail and group-detail pages when the screen is rotated. Next, you will customize the layout of the item-detail page when the application is snapped. Finally, you will implement semantic zoom in the start page, enabling users to zoom out and see all the recipe groups on a single screen.

    · MSDN Virtual Lab: Windows 8: Lab 3 - Searching and Sharing - JavaScript
    In this lab, you will add support for searching and sharing to Contoso Cookbook. You will get first-hand experience implementing searching and sharing contracts, and learn how these contracts provide a higher level of integration between either two Metro style apps or an app and Windows itself.

    · MSDN Virtual Lab: Windows 8: Lab 4 - Application Bars and Media Capture - JavaScript
    In this lab, you will enhance Contoso Cookbook by allowing users to capture photos and videos of their favorite recipes and share them with other applications. You will also add an application bar that provides shortcuts to these features and learn how to incorporate popup menus into application bar commands.

    · MSDN Virtual Lab: Windows 8: Lab 5: Process Lifetime Management - JavaScript
    In this lab, you will learn about Process Lifetime Management. Process Lifetime Management, or PLM, is one of the most important concepts for a developer building Metro style apps to understand. Unlike traditional Windows applications, which continue to execute even when they are in the background, Metro style apps only execute when they are in the foreground.

    · MSDN Virtual Lab: Windows 8: Lab 6: Settings and Preferences - JavaScript
    In this lab, you’ll add About and Preferences commands to the settings pane in Contoso Cookbook. You’ll expose a simple user preference that can be toggled on and off with a toggle switch, and you’ll use roaming settings to store that preference so it will follow users wherever they go.

    · MSDN Virtual Lab: Windows 8: Lab 7: Tiles and Notifications - JavaScript
    In this lab, you will get first-hand experience with secondary tiles, push notifications, and toasts by adding them to Contoso Cookbook. At the conclusion, users will be able to pin favorite recipes to the start screen with secondary tiles, see tiles updated by the Windows Notification Service, and see scheduled toasts in action.

    · MSDN Virtual Lab: Windows 8: Lab 8: The Windows Store - JavaScript
    In this lab, you will use the Windows Store APIs to monetize Contoso Cookbook. First you will modify the about box to detect trial versions and include a purchase button if the app has not been paid for. Next, you will use CurrentAppSimulator to simulate a purchase when the purchase button is clicked. Finally, you will simulate in-app purchases by offering Italian recipes as a paid add-on rather than for free.



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