Archive for August, 2010

Georgia Tech wants avatars to sit in classrooms?

I am hoping that the AJC reporter just got it wrong.  It’s not a great idea for people to sit in classrooms.  How is it any better for avatars to sit in classrooms?  We don’t know much that virtual worlds make better in education. I’m hoping that the new strategic plan is more than what’s described here.

Georgia Tech students may learn in virtual classrooms, with avatars of themselves “sitting” in the class. Students and professors will work to solve the world’s problems using new areas of study. The institute will expand globally, while also taking on a larger role in Atlanta.

These are just a few aspects of the strategic vision Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson will share in a speech Tuesday. The plan outlines goals and priorities to shape the institution for the next 25 years.

via Georgia Tech prepares for 2035  | ajc.com.

August 31, 2010 at 11:07 am Leave a comment

What are the fundamental education issues for next 10 years? Computing education issues?

NSF’s Division of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences is seeking white papers on the grand challenges in these areas over the next 10 years.  Reading through the questions they want answered, I’m wondering if some of the important grand challenges are computing education grand challenges.  I think it’s increasingly important that we understand how to improve how students come to understand computing, because that understanding can drive creative and innovative use of an incredibly powerful set of technologies.  Due date for white papers is September 30.

NSF/SBE invites individuals and groups to contribute white papers outlining grand challenge questions that are both foundational and transformative.  They are foundational in the sense that they reflect deep issues that engage fundamental assumptions behind disciplinary research traditions and are transformative because they seek to leverage current findings to unlock a new cycle of research. We expect these white papers to advance SBE’s mission to study human characteristics and human behaviors in its Social and Economic Sciences and Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences divisions, as well as to be the nation’s resource for understanding the structure and development of science through its Science Resources Statistics division.

via US NSF – SBE – SBE 2020.

August 30, 2010 at 1:37 pm Leave a comment

Chalmers University launches ComputingEd-ish Program

I visited Chalmers University in Goteburg, Sweden several years ago.  I learned that Chalmers is sort of the MIT and CalTech combined of Sweden — Sweden has a strong engineering tradition, and Chalmers trains 40% of all of Sweden’s engineers.  It’s an important and well-respected engineering school.

So it’s pretty exciting when Chalmers launches a new graduate program in engineering education research, and the position described below as part of this new program sits in the “Department of Applied Information Technology.”  This suggests that their new program has a strong Computing Education component.  Cool!  This announcement, plus the research center for CS Ed at Durham that I mentioned last week, has me wondering — why are the Europeans investing so much more in computing education research than the Americans?

Research into learning and communication is one specific strand of research at the department and the main areas of investigation are: Learning with IT, language and communication for academic and professional purposes, public learning and understanding of science, learning and sustainability, and higher education. This variation in research areas related to learning and communication is one of the department’s main strengths. The department also offers training in these areas to students and teachers at both Chalmers and the University of Gothenburg.

via Chalmers: Applied Information Technology: Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor in Engineering Education Research.

August 30, 2010 at 1:18 pm Leave a comment

Top 5 Things to Teach IT Students: The Rest We Teach to Everyone

This Computerworld piece is interesting, first, for predicting what we should be teaching our students so that they have the right IT skills in 10 years.  But I’m more interested in the second sentence, “Employees throughout the organization will understand how to use technology to do their jobs.”  Really?  We’re not doing such a great job at that today.  I think that Computerworld is laying out an interesting and important goal. But we have to change the way that we’re teaching all the non-IT experts if we’re going to achieve that goal.

In the year 2020, technical expertise will no longer be the sole province of the IT department. Employees throughout the organization will understand how to use technology to do their jobs.

Yet futurists and IT experts say that the most sought-after IT-related skills will be those that involve the ability to mine overwhelming amounts of data, protect systems from security threats, manage the risks of growing complexity in new systems, and communicate how technology can increase productivity.

via 5 Indispensable IT Skills of the Future – Computerworld.

August 27, 2010 at 11:46 am 4 comments

CS Education Gets Congressional Attention

I didn’t realize that the same week that the CS Ed Act was introduced by Representative Jared Polis, another Representative (Vernon Ehlers of Michigan) introduced the CS Ed Week resolution.  As Cameron’s blog points out, it’s about getting and keeping congressional attention.

Last week was a huge one for computer science education in the Nation’s Capital. Congressmen from both parties introduced two pieces of legislation — The Computer Science Education Act  and the Computer Science Education Week Resolution  — intended to help strengthen computer science education. I’ve written before that the road to education reform is long, and progress will come in fits and starts. Both pieces of legislation represent another step along this road and the beginning of a much broader engagement to bring attention to computer science education issues in the United States.

via CS Education Gets Congressional Attention | blog@CACM | Communications of the ACM.

August 27, 2010 at 2:30 am 1 comment

A journal on innovation in ICS teaching

I didn’t know about this before this week — interesting stuff!

Welcome to ITALICS, Innovation in Teaching And Learning in Information and Computer Sciences, the electronic journal of the Higher Education Academy Subject Centre for Information and Computer Sciences (ICS). ITALICS provides a vehicle for members of the ICS communities to disseminate best practice and research on learning and teaching within the subject disciplines.

via ITALICS – Home.

August 26, 2010 at 7:05 am Leave a comment

Tell Sally Your Stories: Monthly, For a Year

In her keynote as the ACM SIGCSE 2010 Outstanding Contributions to CS Education awardee, Sally Fincher talked about the “useless truths” that education researchers publish.  While they’re true, the published lessons are often too hard to take from their abstract, general form into the concrete, daily practice of the teaching practitioner.  She believes that stories help teachers to communicate their practice and to understand someone else’s practice.

I just listened to Janet Finlay (of Leeds Metropolitan University) and Sally talk about their projects on Sharing Practice for (and among) Computing Educators. It’s fascinating work, which is based on the belief that researchers don’t necessarily know best.  Teachers have enormous knowledge about how to teach and how to solve teaching problems. Sharing that knowledge requires flexibility of representation and inclusion of adequate detail — too much abstraction leads to confusion (e.g., “Is this really a problem we have? Does our context match their’s?”) and difficulty adopting the practice.  Janet has a really interesting project on Active Learning in Computing (ALiC) which is hosted by this AMAZING group based here at Durham (but also including Leeds and Newcastle), “England’s only Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) in Computer Science.” (Dang! How come we don’t have something like that in the States?!?)

Sally has just launched a website that she asked us all both to use and to promote: http://www.sharingpractice.ac.uk/

Sally wants to get teachers to keep a diary on her website for one year, writing an entry once a month (on the 15th of each month) from September 2010 to August 2011.  She wants to gather lots and LOTS of stories from teachers.  She wants more than just computing educators — she’ll take any post-secondary teacher in any subject at any institution from anywhere in the world.

There’s going to be more to the project later on. (You can see the “Tell Us a Story” link on the page now, but it doesn’t really go anywhere yet).  Sally showed me some of the in-development pieces that she’s working on. She also showed me some intriguing, powerful new tools for analyzing the stories that she’s collecting.  Using these tools, more is really more — she can see patterns in the stories, but only if she gets lots of them.

I just entered into my ToDo tool a monthly reminder, starting September 15th, to visit Sally’s site and enter a story.  Please do consider doing it yourself, and pass this around to your colleagues.

August 26, 2010 at 6:35 am 4 comments

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