Tagged Computer Science

Computing Teachers Concerned That Pupils Know More

I saw this article today and wondered why?  Why is the conclusion that students should share their expertise?  Students who perform at the top, whether because of higher self efficacy or practice are not utilized for this in every other area.  Why not stand the model on its head and PAY for an educator with both salary and time.  Research in Math shows that students who do well, continue to work hard, they do not have the time to “share”.  This is an A/V model, not CS.

Why not provide time for a CS teacher and appropriate pay?  Why not admit this isn’t the same as all other teaching?  Other educators do not have to spend the same time every week to keep up with and work on projects with this kind of depth.  When was the last time these teachers didn’t just get training, but time to do an app or a project.  Why would the kids listen to someone who doesn’t.




A survey of UK schools carried out by Microsoft and Computing at School reveals some worrying statistics that are probably more widely applicable.

The UK is working hard to introduce a new emphasis on computer science at school but, as always, the problem is getting the teachers up to speed. With computing there is the added difficulty that if a teacher is a good programmer or just a good sys admin then they can probably earn a lot more elsewhere.


The survey revealed that (68%) of primary and secondary teachers are concerned that their pupils have a better understanding of computing than they do. Moreover the pupils reinforced this finding with 47% claiming that their teachers need more training. Again to push the point home, 41% of pupils admitted to regularly helping their teachers with technology.

On the plus side, 69% of the teachers said that they enjoyed teaching the new computing curriculum and 73% felt confident in delivering it. However, 81% still thought that they needed more training, development and learning materials.

Interestingly, only 41% of the pupils wanted to learn more computing than was already being taught in schools, and only 40% thought that their teachers knew more than they did about advanced things like coding and building websites.

This isn’t all due to the teachers being new at the task – 76% had taught computing before the new curriculum was introduced. It seems that switching from an approach that emphasised computer literacy to one that actually wants students to do more difficult things is the reason for the problem.

To try to help, Computing At School with some funding from Microsoft has created QuickStart computing a training toolkit.


Last week pupils and teachers were invited to the Microsoft Showcase Classroom in London for a Computing At School workshop ahead of the launch of QuickStart Computing

The real problem is that people who know about computing aren’t generally lured into teaching. This contrasts with other subjects where graduates find it more difficult to get jobs that pay as well. Getting teachers who know more about computers than their pupils seems to be a tough thing to do. Perhaps it is time to acknowledge that pupils do know more and find ways of enabling and encouraging them to share their expertise.

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Average HS Student Given Little Chance of AP CS Success

From Slashdot
AP Computer Science is taught in just 10% of our high schools,” lamented The White House last December as President Obama kicked off CSEdWeek. “China teaches all of its students one year of computer science.” And the U.S. Dept. of Education has made the AP CS exam its Poster Child for inequity in education (citing a viral-but-misinterpreted study). But ignored in all the hand-wringing over low AP CS enrollment is one huge barrier to the goal of AP-CS-for-all: College Board materials indicate that the average 11th grader’s combined PSAT/NMSQT score of 96 in reading and math gives him/her only a 20%-30% probability of getting a score of ‘3’ on the AP CS exam (a score ‘4’ or ‘5’ may be required for college credit). The College Board suggests schools tap a pool of students with a “60-100% likelihood of scoring 3 or higher”, so it’s probably no surprise that CS teachers are advised to turn to the College Board’s AP Potential tool to identify students who are likely to succeed (sample Student Detail for an “average” kid) and send their parents recruitment letters — Georgia Tech even offers some gender-specific examples — to help fill class rosters.

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Building a More Modern Course

I came across this article Building An App In 45 Minutes With Meteor By Sacha Greif and I can’t help but wonder about using it in a class this year.  Why not?  Indeed. 

Please read the original post, much better conversation, links, serendipitous continuity.  I have captured the article below as I want to use it in class and you know how things tend to disappear just when you want them online.  Silly editors, school takes place on a longer timeline.

Continue reading “Building a More Modern Course” »

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Ladies Learning Code

From this article at ReadWriteWeb on the Ladies Learning Code team come the story of them starting HackerYou and pursing other opportunities for women to learn to code and not in a University setting.  Read the article, it is an interesting team of women tackling a difficult problem.

A university alternative

As to the need of a private alternative to the university system, Payne points to a survey finding high demand for software developers from startups. A paper presented at the European Conference on Information Systems in 2009 confirms the need for information technology workers, even in a down economy.

Still, a 2008 study found that enrollment in university computer science programs in all but one Canadian region was actually down between 36% and 64% from its peak in 2002.

Computer science education has its issues in the U.S., as well. The University of Florida planned to cut its computer science department, and though the most drastic version of that plan has since been withdrawn, students and faculty are still fight to save the department.

Regardless of what you think of the merits of universal code literacy, HackerYou and similar programs in other cities – such as Code Academy in Chicago, General Assembly in New York City and Dev Bootcamp in San Francisco – have an opportunity to help close the talent gap.

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I want Pi for my School

The Raspberry Pi Foundation

Before we get into the nitty gritty of hardware, software and what will be possible once the Raspberry Pi (RasPi for short) is finally released it’s important to take a look at the project’s roots. RasPi was initially devised by Eben Upton in 2006 who saw a decline in computer science skills amongst applicants for Cambridge University while he was lecturing and working in admissions.

As a product of the British education system I can confirm that programming was not on the menu. Instead, we were taught basic word processing, spreadsheets and web design (using FrontPage Express, no less). Eben noticed that past applicants who had started programming on their Commodore 64s, Amigas and BBC Micro Computers of years gone by were much better versed in computer science than the Windows generation who were taught basic computer literacy and not pushed to learn to code. Huge drops in the numbers of applicants supported his theory that schools were not doing enough to encourage programming.

Hardware, Software & Design

At the heart of every Raspberry Pi unit is the Broadcom BCM2835 system on chip (SoC) . It contains an ARM11 processor running at 700MHz with a powerful Videocore 4 GPU (which uses OpenGL ES2.0 and OpenVG libraries to deliver its impressive 3D performance). This provides roughly the equivalent to the original Xbox console’s grunt in graphical processing power (in real-world terms it’s closer to a Pentium II at 300MHz with considerably better graphics). Video-out is delivered via HDMI or composite (no VGA) and the unit is able to decode 1080p H.264 Blu-ray quality video at 30fps with sound over HDMI to boot.

There will be two versions of the RasPi – Model A ($25) comes with 128MB of RAM, a single USB 2.0 port and no Ethernet; Model B ($35) has 256MB of RAM, two USB 2.0 ports and a 100/10Mb Ethernet port. Due to the fact that the unit runs on ARM architecture (as opposed to x86 or x64 commonly found in PCs) it should be able to run all manner of software written for the platform provided the system requirements add up.

The initial batch of RasPi units will not ship with a case, power supply or SD card (the main storage medium your OS will reside on) in order to keep the cost down. A 5v micro USB power supply, cables and such will be available to ship at launch for an additional fee, and it’s great to be given the option as many of us have too many cables lying around already. According to the project website the unit will also comfortably run off 4xAA batteries for true portability.

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