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

July, 2012

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Where is the computer science at ISTE?


    My prime focus at Microsoft is K-12 computer science education. While I am very interested in various areas of using technology in education I basically get paid to promote Microsoft programs and products in computer science. It’s become harder and harder for me to justify attending the annual ISTE conference because there are fewer and fewer computer science educators attending. I see this as a much larger problem than just “poor Alfred doesn’t get to go to ISTE” though. I see it as a real problem for computer science education.

    There are some great events for computer science educators. The CS & IT Conferences (hope to see you there next week) is the one national K-12 CS education conference and professional development event. SIGCSE, still heavily university targeted, has some great things for K-112 computer science educators. But we’re missing a lot of people at these events. Some of the best and most innovative teachers we have attend those events. I love them! But we’re not reaching the administrators and technology coordinators and curriculum specialists who are much more likely to be at ISTE.

    When I was a technology coordinator attending ISTE (then called NECC) one of my primary goals was to gather information for faculty across the board. I looked for the technology hardware and software for the infrastructure for sure but I was also looking for curriculum materials that many other teachers could use in their courses. I also looked for policy information and trends in technology education. Is computer science on the rise or the decline for example.

    I’m told that this year ISTE had two regular sessions, one poster session and one workshop that were computer science related. I’m not sure if this included the SIGCT meeting or not. That is tiny for an event the size of ISTE! What is an administrator to make of that?

    SIGCT-icon-mdSIGCT: Computing Teachers Special Interest Group tries very hard. I try to be active with SIGCT myself as time permits  but I REALLY appreciate the volunteers who put in a lot of time making things work. But we are facing a downward trend in that as fewer CS sessions are accepted (or even allowed) fewer submissions for sessions are being made.

    BTW you don’t see ISTE listed among the supporters of Computing in the Core either. That blew me away when someone pointed it out to me recently. You’d like to think they would be right in there with us. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics  and the National Science Teachers Association are there.

    Enough about why we want ISTE more involved – what’s in it for ISTE? Quite frankly the computer science educators of today are turning out the software developers, computer scientists, and technology experts that all the rest of the people at the ISTE conference are going to depend on in the future. Where will be technology in education if there are not computer scientists and developers to create the innovative products and tools of the future? In my humble opinion ISTE needs to jump on the computer science education band wagon and help us get more computer science education in our schools. Not just for us but for all of technology in education.

    BTW I am speaking for myself and I don’t know if Microsoft management agrees with me but I hope they do. Smile

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Interesting Links 2 July 2012


    I was pretty quiet last week. Some family stuff going on kept me away from work and (largely) off the Internet. Still over the last few days I have been catching up with things and I have captured a few good links. Several of them I would normally have posted as complete blog posts but the places I am linking to do as good if not better job at explaining what is going on. So here are the best of what I found.

    “Girls can’t program in their heads”: gender and games in the computing classroom from the  Communications of the ACM blog. Seems like a lot going on with regards to gender balance in the computer field this week. Microsoft research also had a couple of videos on the subject. MSR and the National Center for Women & Information Technology @NCWIT in the campaign to increase diversity.  Also from @MSFTResearch Video of the Week: MSR Cambridge’s Jasmin Fisher, on research & her advice to women entering the field.

    My manager wrote up a link to a lot of Windows 8 Developer Camps and Hackathons – Coming July to September

    I liked reading 'Should CS Principles be the first CS course in High Schools?'  This was written by one of the teachers who has been piloting the new CS Principles course and I like their take on a first computer course in HS.

    Microsoft NERD@MSNewEngland has a new Facebook page. LIKE them and get the latest NERD Center‬ photos, events, jobs & more. …

    Microsoft launches ‪Office365‬ 4 Education --FREE and available now--students can do homework anywhere on any device! Please check out Office 365 for education – a game changer for teaching and learning.

    Critics of the Microsoft Surface just don't get it via @halberenson Hal, who wrote this post, is an old friend of mine. We've worked at the same three different companies, he says I’m following him, but he's currently retired from Microsoft. In any case I enjoy reading his well thought out ideas.

    How to Create a Metro Icon Yet another useful post by my friend Ed Donahue.


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