Archive for September 10, 2009

Next great CS1 Context: Statistics

An article in today’s New York Times says, “For Today’s Graduate, Just One Word: Statistics.” Hal Varian is quoted saying, “I keep saying that the sexy job in the next 10 years will be statisticians. And I’m not kidding.”  I’ve heard that the Statistics Advanced Placement exam is among the fastest growing.

I really want to get back to my Computational Freakonomics class one day. Statistics would make a great context for learning computing.

  • There are such great languages for playing with data, like R and SciPy.
  • It’s useful and offers the opportunity to work on data that students care about.
  • It can easily be applied to a student’s future degree and career.
  • It’s the use of computing that makes statistics relevant.  Most statistics classes I’ve taken are boring because you work with toy datasets with maybe a dozen points.  That’s about the limit of student attention when you’re working with paper-and-pencil or calculator computations.  But when you bring in real computation, you can work with authentic datasets (real NASDAQ data on stocks, real United Nations data on nations) of relatively large size.  Now a student can ask questions that she is interested in knowing the answer to.

September 10, 2009 at 10:05 pm 9 comments

Can Video Game Testing Spark Interest in Computing Among Black Youth?

Betsy diSalvo’s Glitch project is featured on the Georgia Tech home page today.  The follow-on link is really nice and starts to describe some of her findings from the first summer of the effort — really interesting stuff: GT | Digital Lounge – Gaming – Can Video Game Testing Spark Interest in Computing Among Black Youth?.

September 10, 2009 at 10:05 am 3 comments


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