Posts tagged ‘teachers’

Guest Post: Report on a CS MOOC from a CS Lecturer

That students don’t finish a CS MOOC isn’t news.  That a CS Lecturer from a research intensive university (an expert in CS teaching) couldn’t stand to finish a CS MOOC is interesting.  Bettina Bair is a Senior Lecturer in CS at Ohio State University.  I’m posting her note to me as a guest post, with her permission.
Recently I enrolled in (and did not complete) a MOOC class from University of Maryland, delivered by Coursera. Since you’ve done some blogging on the idea of distance learning, I thought I would share the enrollment statistics and my experience with you.
The final enrollment for the course was over 220,000 students.  Then about 5000 students completed the course; they will receive a certificate.  About 40% of the students came from developing countries.  And the gender split was 85/15, about the same as for our courses.
The course was presented with canned videos of the professor standing in front of a powerpoint.  There was about an hour of video to watch each week.  The videos had questions to answer every ten minutes or so.  There were also weekly homeworks, quizzes and projects to complete.  There was an online forum for discussion.
Even though I was very interested in the subject, I found the format to be unappealing, and I probably would have learned more from reading a book. The online forum was especially hard to navigate. Imagine 220,000 vying for attention and everyone names their posts, “Help!”.
That said, 5000 people did finish the course.  And good for them.
Let me know if you’re interested in talking more about this course or seeing examples of the coursework.

 

April 16, 2014 at 8:45 am 10 comments

Crowd-sourcing hints for Code.org tutorials via CSTA teachers

Really interesting idea — Code.org’s Pat Yongpradit sent a note to all of CSTA, asking CS teachers to help provide hints for Code.org tutorials.  By reaching out to CSTA, they’re doing better than crowd-sourcing.  They’re CS-teacher-sourcing.

We’ve had millions of students try the Code.org tutorials. They’ve submitted over 11 million unique computer programs as solutions to roughly 100 puzzles.

We’ve mapped out which submissions are errors (ie they don’t solve the puzzle), and which are sub-optimal solutions (they solve the puzzle, but not efficiently).

Today, erroneous user submissions receive really unhelpful error feedback, such as “You’re using the right blocks, but not in the right way”. We want your help improving this, by providing highly personal feedback to very specific student errors. Watch the video below to see what we mean.

via Add hints to Code.org tutorials | Code.org.

April 15, 2014 at 1:02 am 1 comment

2014 Annual CSTA Conference — reserve your place

I’ve mentioned before that Yasmin Kafai and Michael Kölling will be keynoters there.  Barbara and I will also be there, offering a MediaComp Python workshop.

2014 CSTA Annual Conference
July 14-15, 2014 Pheasant Run Resort, St. Charles, Illinois

 

The CSTA annual conference is a professional development opportunity for computer science and information technology teachers who need practical, classroom-focused information to help them prepare their students for the future.

Highlights:

  • Explore issues and trends relating directly to your classroom
  • Learn, network and interact
  • Choose from various workshops and breakout sessions

 

Some of this year’s session topics include:

  • Advanced Placement Computer Science
  • Computational Thinking
  • Increasing Enrollment in Computer Science
  • Programming
  • Robotics

 

Keynotes:

  • Yasmin Kafai, Professor of learning sciences at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Michael Kölling, Professor at the School of Computing, University of Kent, in Canterbury, UK.

 

Pre-registration is required and will be accepted for the first 500 teachers. The registration deadline is June 26, 2014. Also, please note that you must complete the payment portion of the online form in order to be fully registered for the conference!

 

Thanks to the generous donations of our sponsors, the registration fee of $75 (+$60 per workshop) includes lunch, resource materials, and a closing session raffle. The 2014 CSTA Annual Conference is made possible by the generous support of Oracle and Universal Technical Institute.

Please note that all workshops are “bring your own laptop” and that workshop registration is limited to 30-40 participants; so be sure to register early to get your workshop choice.

Register at: www.cstaconference.org

For more information contact: t.nash@csta-hq.org

March 19, 2014 at 1:49 pm Leave a comment

Bard College offers an MAT with a concentration in CS Ed

Announced on the CSTA website.  There are relatively few pre-service CS Ed programs in the United States.

Bard College Master of Arts in Teaching Program, a CSTA sponsoring school, is accepting applications for the 2014-2015 preservice program.

Bard College’s preservice teaching program offers a one-year, 63 credit Master of Arts in Teaching degree and NYS Initial Teaching Certification, grades 7-12 for math, biology, history, and English. Applications are being accepted for the program now through April 30th.

Responding to a nationally recognized need for computer science curriculum in our public schools, the Bard MAT Program is offering a unique curriculum for math teachers with a commitment to teaching computer science in secondary public schools. The student dedicated to becoming a mathematics and computer science teacher values the Bard MAT Program’s commitment to the discipline with its substantive research projects in mathematics, computer science, and math/cs education. Students will work with computer science teachers in the middle and high schools in New York’s Hudson Valley, preparing for teaching careers in computer science.

Visit our website http://www.bard.edu/mat for more information
Apply online at: https://bard.slideroom.com/

March 13, 2014 at 1:16 am 1 comment

Getting politicians to support CS, when they don’t understand CS

The article below describes a political furor over appointing someone to lead an effort to support computing education — who doesn’t herself understand much about computing.

But this is a general problem, and is probably a problem for engineering education, too.  Most US politicians in Washington DC don’t have STEM backgrounds.  Few know anything about engineering.  Fewer still know anything about computer science.  Even if they really want to support STEM, engineering, and computing education, not knowing what it is themselves makes it more challenging for them to make good choices.

The row over Tory cronies in taxpayer-backed positions look set to intensify after it emerges the boss of the government’s coding education initiative cannot code — or even give a decent explanation of what is involved. Figures behind the scheme include Michael Gove, who is at the centre of the furore over Conservative placemen in Whitehall and the ‘quangocracy’.

Conservative activist Lottie Dexter was ridiculed by IT experts and educationalists for her clueless performance on Newsnight — in which she claimed that teachers could be trained how to educate students in computer programming “in a day”

via Tories’ ‘Year of Code’ boss Lottie Dexter can’t code | Political Scrapbook.

March 6, 2014 at 1:54 am 1 comment

There are no computer science teachers in NY

Here’s the next step after the Hour of Code and plans to implement comprehensive CS reform (like in Chicago): Where are you going to get the teachers?

It is widely acknowledged that for New York City to prosper in the 21st century, its middle and high schools must teach computer science. What is not so well known is that there are no computer science teachers in New York—at least not on paper.

The state does not recognize computer science as an official subject, which means that teachers do not get trained in it while they are becoming certified as instructors.

That’s one reason public-school students have little exposure to the skills needed to snag computer software programming jobs, which are expected to grow faster than any other profession during the next decade.

Out of 75,000 teachers in New York City public schools, fewer than 100 teach computer science. While state officials are trying to modernize the education syllabus, industry leaders have been filling in the gap with a handful of innovative efforts that illustrate the ad hoc nature of the solution to the shortfall of qualified teachers. But it will be years before all 800 of New York’s middle schools and high schools can offer even a single computer science class.

via There are no computer science teachers in NY | Crain’s New York Business.

February 27, 2014 at 1:38 am 8 comments

Are MOOCs the New Textbooks? Misunderstanding the role of the teacher

An interesting blog post by an important CS researcher in programming languages and software engineering, but with a deep misperception about teaching.  Teaching is not presentation.  Making “production” better doesn’t make the teaching more effective.  Student engagement pedagogies are likely to make teaching more effective, but it’s still an open question how to make those happen in a MOOC.

But the presenter of a MOOC is not likely to be a passive player in the same sense. Video is a dynamic medium, that used well can establish a significant emotional connection between the speaker and the audience. This is already clear in some MOOCs, and as production gets better and better this emotional quality of the courses will only improve.

What’s more, MOOC instructors are always at their best. They never have an off day. They never have a pressing grant deadline. All those bad takes got edited out. The students will also always hear them clearly, and when they don’t, the MOOC instructor will patiently repeat what they said. As many times as the student wants.

via Are MOOCs the New Textbooks? | Flexible Learning.

February 26, 2014 at 1:56 am 5 comments

Microsoft providing UK teachers with content and professional development for new curriculum

There’s a new computer science curriculum rolling out in the UK for elementary school students (thanks to the Computing at Schools effort), and Microsoft is making a big push to help the adoption.

Steve Beswick, senior director of Education at Microsoft UK, said: “We welcomed the news of the new computing curriculum alongside others in the industry because it is absolutely critical for the future success of our young people. The challenge now is to ensure that primary teachers are equipped to deliver it by September.”

“That’s why we are launching our First Class Computing programme now, which, through new materials, teacher training, and our ongoing work with the education community, can help a new generation of teachers inspire young people.”

via Microsoft unveils primary school suite for new computing curriculum teachers.

February 17, 2014 at 1:55 am Leave a comment

CSTA Keynote Speakers for 2014: Yasmin Kafai and Michael Kölling

Great names at the CSTA conference this year!

CSTA is excited to announce our keynote speakers for 2014!

Yasmin Kafai is a researcher, co-developer, author and professor of learning sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. She earned her doctorate from Harvard University and is a Fellow of the American Education Research Association. Kafai’s discussion titled “Connected Code: A New Agenda for K-12 Programming in Classrooms, Clubs, and Communities” will cover three central shifts that lead us from computational thinking to computational participation—from code to applications, from tools to communities, and from scratch to remix—in teaching and learning programming to broaden participation in computing for all.

Michael Kölling is a professor at the School of Computing, University of Kent, in Canterbury, UK. He holds a PhD in computer science from Sydney University and has worked in Europe and Australia. He is also an author and lead-developer of educational programming environments and a Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy. Kölling will discuss “What’s Next for CS Education: Thoughts on Topics, Tools, and All the Rest.” In his talk, Kölling will share his speculations and opinions on what should happen in the near future for computer science education, focusing on educational software tools.

Please join us at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, Illinois July 14-15, 2014.

Learn more on our conference page at:

http://csta.acm.org/ProfessionalDevelopment/sub/CSTAConference.html

and register today at:

https://www.softconf.com/d/csta2014/

February 15, 2014 at 1:31 am 1 comment

Big Data vs. Ed Psychology: Work harder vs. work smarter

I met with a prospective PhD student recently, who told me that she’s interested in using big data to inform her design of computing education.  She said that she disliked designing something, just crossing her fingers hoping it would work.  She and the faculty she’s working with are trying to use big data to inform their design decisions.

That’s a fine approach, but it’s pretty work-intensive.  You gather all this data, then you have to figure out what’s relevant, and what it means, and how it influences practice.  It’s a very computer science-y way of solving the problem, but it’s rather brute force.

There is a richer data source with much more easily applicable design guidelines: educational psychology literature.  Educational psychologists have been thinking about these issues for a long time.  They know a lot of things.

We’re finding that we can inform a lot of our design decisions by simply reading the relevant education literature:

I was recently reading a computer science paper in which the author said that we don’t know much about mathematics education, and that’s because we’ve never had enough data to come up with findings.  But there were no references to mathematics education literature.  We actually know a lot about mathematics education literature.  Too often, I fear that we computer scientists want to invent it all ourselves, as if that was a better approach.  Why not just talk to and read the work of really smart people who have devoted their lives to figuring out how to teach better?

 

January 31, 2014 at 1:35 am 5 comments

Participation in AP CS in high school is a matter of individual, exceptional teachers

All the press coverage of Barbara Ericson’s AP CS 2013 exam results analysis has led to a lot of discussion among my Facebook friends.  The results are even more telling than the raw numbers.

  • Rebecca Dovi and Ria Galanos, both exceptional AP CS high school teachers and both in Virgina, started comparing notes on the Hispanic students who took the AP CS exam from that state.  They could name half of them.  Looks like those two teachers were responsible for half of the Hispanic exam takers from Virginia.
  • Why is that Tennessee has ranked so well for female AP CS exam takers among all the states?  It is due to one exceptional AP CS teacher, Jill Pala, who teaches at an all-girls school.  Barb verified this claim.  Jill’s class generated 30 of the 71 female exam-takers in Tennessee. Without Jill, Tennessee would be in the middle of the pack. With Jill, they have the highest percentage of female AP CS exam-takers among all the states.

On the one hand, what a wonderful statement about the impact that a single exceptional teacher can make!  Hey, states that want to raise their exam taker numbers — go hire yourselves a Rebecca, Ria, or Jill!  Or provide the professional development to grow your own!

On the other hand — our numbers are SO small that a single teacher can make the difference for a whole state.  There were 2103 schools that passed the AP CS audit in 2012.  That’s probably exactly the number of AP CS teachers, too.  There were 11,694 schools that passed the audit for AP Calculus!  Great teachers matter in Calculus, too.  But there are so many teachers, an individual teacher probably can’t make or break a whole state’s ranking.  Wouldn’t it be nice for AP CS to be in that position?

January 28, 2014 at 1:09 am 4 comments

Hiring Lecturers (face-to-face and online) at Georgia Tech

The College of Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia invites applications for full-time, non-tenure-track faculty positions at the rank of Instructor or Lecturer (based on experience) to start in May 2014.  Primary responsibilities are to provide high quality classroom teaching and service to the department.  In addition, the College is specifically looking for candidates interested in performing as Instructor of Record for large online master’s degree courses with prerecorded video lecture content.  Applicants must have a minimum of a Master’s Degree in Computer Science or a related field. This position is renewable annually based on funding and the needs of the College.  This is a 9 month contract although summer teaching is typically available.

Applications should include a cover letter, curriculum vitae, teaching statement, material relevant to evaluating the applicant’s teaching abilities, and the names of at least three references.    These documents should be emailed to recruiting@cc.gatech.edu with “Lecturer Vacancy” in the subject line.  Also, candidates are requested to ask references to send their letters directly to the search committee via electronic mail to recruiting@cc.gatech.edu and ask them to put your name in the subject line.  For full consideration, interested individuals are asked to apply by April 15, 2014.  However, posting will remain open until position(s) are filled.

Duties, Responsibilities and Assignments

The overall responsibility of the lecturers and instructors at the College of Computing is to teach such Computer Science classes as are assigned to them, usually the large first and second year classes.  The specific duties involved in teaching such a class are:

1.     Preparing and maintaining a class syllabus and schedule.

2.     Preparing and delivering materials for each of the scheduled meeting times of the class. For Online courses monitor course progress and activity and respond appropriately to any problems.

3.     Holding regularly scheduled office hours to assist students who are having any difficulty with course materials.

4.     If Teaching Assistants (TAs) are required for the class,

  • a.      Making the selection of TAs to hire for the class
  • b.     Ensuring that each TA is trained with respect to their legal obligations to the students and to the technical content of the class.
  • c.      Ensuring appropriate conduct of the TAs.

5.     Supervising the development of, and approving the content of, all assignments given to the students in the class.

6.     Supervising the development of, and approving the content of, all evaluation materials given to the students in the class.

7.     Supervising and ensuring the correctness and fairness of all grading activities in the class.

8.     Computing and delivering to the Registrar’s Office mid-term and final grades for the class.

9.     Assisting in reviews of their fellow lecturers on a regular basis.

10.  Participating in committees and other administrative activities as required by the administration.

January 24, 2014 at 9:23 am 2 comments

Taking on the challenge of creating digital technologies with an online course for teachers

Yay Nick and Katrina!

The University of Adelaide and Google today announce a free open online course to help primary school teachers across Australia bring computer science and computational thinking into classrooms.

The course, to be available from March 2014, will help provide resources and example learning activities for the Digital Technologies section of the new national curriculum, from kindergarten to Year 6.

To be announced today at a Digital Technologies Curriculum Summit hosted by Google in Sydney, the project is bringing together the expertise of a network of teachers and industry representatives to develop materials that will help teachers meet the learning objectives of the new curriculum.

“Our ultimate aim is to enable Australia’s future as creators of digital technology, not just consumers,” says project leader Associate Professor Katrina Falkner, Deputy Head and Director of Teaching in the University’s School of Computer Science.

via Taking on the digital technologies challenge.

January 20, 2014 at 1:27 am Leave a comment

Spanning the Chasm of the K–12 and Post-Secondary Relationship: Chris Stephenson in Blog@CACM

Chris Stephenson’s blog from last month’s Blog@CACM highlights a significant impediment to progress in computing education.  CS Faculty in universities don’t understand K-12 education (and may not respect formal education at all, as discussed previously).  Education Faculty probably understand K-12 education better, but few of them are involved in computing education.  We in higher-education who want to help with the development of K-12 computing education need to understand the contexts and challenges of teachers — “know thy user.”

CSTA has served as a bridge between these two worlds, explaining each to the other and helping to facilitate greater understanding and better communication. For some post-secondary faculty, however, K–12 remains a foreign territory—little understood and not easily traveled.

When you talk to college faculty, they will tell you that working with K–12 educators can be exceedingly frustrating. Administrators and teachers do not return phone calls or respond to emails, schedules change with little or no notice, and teachers are resistant to spending out-of-school time on professional development opportunities and are averse to incorporating new technologies or teaching methods.

When you talk to K–12 teachers, they will tell you the post-secondary faculty are woefully ignorant of the realities of teaching in their environment. In K–12, most teachers teach six classes per day and an increasing number have no time in which to prepare lessons. Teachers don’t have phones. Some don’t even have desks. And very few have access to a networked computer on which they can answer correspondence during their teaching day. In many U.S. states, teachers do not make a living wage and so need to take second jobs and summer jobs to support their families.

via Spanning the Chasm of the K–12 and Post-Secondary Relationship | blog@CACM | Communications of the ACM.

January 16, 2014 at 1:09 am 4 comments

Musicians’ First Teachers: What can educators do to sustain interest?

What can the teacher do to inculcate interest?  What responsibility does the teacher have to sustain interest?  If there is a way to teach that can be effective, don’t teachers have a moral obligation to teach that way?

In general, findings from studies of interest suggest that educators can (a) help students sustain attention for tasks even when tasks are challenging—this could mean either providing support so that students can experience a triggered situational interest or feedback that allows them to sustain attention so that they can generate their own curiosity questions; (b) provide opportunities for students to ask curiosity questions; and (c) select or create resources that promote problem solving and strategy generation.

via Musicians’ First Teachers « Annie Murphy Paul.

January 15, 2014 at 1:27 am 1 comment

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