Additional profile information on Alfred Thompson at Google+
Susan Canaga has a post today that talks about teaching a student to troubleshoot a stapler. I love how she describes the moment where the student realizes that he is about to learn something - "caught in a teachable moment."
I think that it is important to realize that the same skills and thinking methods we teach when we teach program debugging can be applied to all sorts of problems. It all boils down to concepts and not specifics. Oh sure there are specific tools that we teach to use when debugging a program. But there is more to it than tools. There are ways of looking at a problem, of asking questions, and thinking about studying what is actually going on. All valuable and transferable to other types of problems. I've said before and I will keep saying - teaching programming, when done right, prepares students for a lot of things other than just writing code.
- Alfred Thompson
Computer clubs at schools seem to range from a complete waste of time all the way up to wonderful experiences that are both fun and educational. Organizing and running one was not, I am embarrassed to admit, one of my strong suits. I wish it had been otherwise.
The worst clubs, in my opinion, are the ones that are little more than an excuse to use the school's LAN for game playing. Now there are worse things in the world and I do think that letting students have game events using the school's LAN can be a positive thing. It is great as a reward for good behavior or as a fund raiser for some special cause. But really it is not an ideal use of a teacher's time to supervise on a regular basis.
The best clubs, also my opinion, offer students a chance to learn something beyond what they learn in class. Perhaps it is the chance to get an early exposure to programming, or perhaps a new programming language. Or maybe it is a chance to experiment with network programming, database programming or advanced graphics. The keys are that students want to have fun and as a faculty advisor you want them to learn something. The two really can go hand in hand.
Pat Phillips, someone who knows more about running computer clubs than I will ever know, has some interesting and helpful things to say at her Editor's Corner this week. If you are involved in a school computer club you will want to check it out.
I found a couple of gems today. Dave Jacobus links to a tutorial that he plans to use with his Advanced Web Page Design class. The tutorial is here. Dave's blog entry about it is here.
And speaking about ASP .NET in the classroom - Brian Scarbeau has been blogging about teaching with ASP .NET in his classes. Day 1 is here but he's up to day 6 so read the whole blog.
More ASP .NET and other resources for computer science teachers as I find them.
PS: Dan Forhan has an interesting discussion on modifiers that teachers teaching Advanced Placement Computer Science may find usful.