Archive for May, 2013

A C# coding workshop for young kids: But why?

This article at ComputerWorld covers more than just the C# coding workshop — it also talks about ScratchJr and Code.org.  It’s a nice collection of news pieces, but I’m missing the underlying argument.

  • Why C#?  That’s an awfully hard language — will that dissuade some of the young kids, maybe convince them that programming is tedious?
  • The argument quote below makes no sense.  “Programming early can pay off in improved thinking and decision-making skills.”  Uh, no.  “Programming skills are so integral to what’s happening in our world. Name a field that doesn’t have some technology integration.”  Well, sure, lots of technology everywhere, but that’s not an argument for programming.

I just don’t get the argument that they’re trying to make.

Wendy Drexler, director of online development at Brown University, said teaching programming early can pay off in improved thinking and decision-making skills. “Programming is an excellent skill to have and not just for the marketability it offers,” she said in an interview.

“Programming skills are so integral to what’s happening in our world. Name a field that doesn’t have some technology integration,” she said. As much as teaching students a specific computer program, Drexler said educators need to “teach a mindset for programming, to lay a foundation for it.”

via For young students, a C# coding workshop for kids – Computerworld.

May 31, 2013 at 1:56 am 6 comments

A Journal on MOOCs: Good to see!

I do hope that there’s enough high-quality articles with good measurement of MOOCs to make this a successful venue.

MOOCs FORUM , a new journal, is the only publication dedicated exclusively to the development, design, and deployment of the game-changing Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Multidisciplinary in scope, this authoritative journal has a neutral bias. Its mandate is the critical evaluation of the MOOC components and modules that are essential in creating a global and sustainable system. The Journal will be published online, with open access options, and in print by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.

May 31, 2013 at 1:00 am 1 comment

Design-based Implementation Research: What we need for CS10K and ECEP

This caught my eye as something that we really need to push computing education.  For CS10K to be successful, we need a mesh of education research with public policy work.  That’s what ECEP is about. In particular, this kind of multiple stakeholders work is what I think that the U. Chicago Landscape Study is pointing toward.

“Design-Based Implementation Research applies design-based perspectives and methods to address and study problems of implementation…DBIR challenges education researchers to break down barriers between sub-disciplines of educational research that isolate those who design and study innovations within classrooms from those who study the diffusion of innovations.”

From the Introduction to the forthcoming NSSE Yearbook, Design-Based Implementation Research: Theories, methods, and exemplars.

This web site presents resources related to an emerging model of research and development called Design-Based Implementation Research (DBIR). DBIR has four key principles:

  1. a focus on persistent problems of practice from multiple stakeholders’ perspectives
  2. a commitment to iterative, collaborative design
  3. a concern with developing theory related to both classroom learning and implementation through systematic inquiry
  4. a concern with developing capacity for sustaining change in systems

via Home.

May 30, 2013 at 1:01 am 3 comments

Survey finds presidents are skeptical on MOOCs

Interesting results!  My President is gung-ho on MOOCs (e.g., sending email out saying that half of the University System of Georgia schools will cease to exist in their current form over the next five years), as is my Provost and my Dean (who sends articles about MOOCs to the faculty weekly).  Maybe that’s not so common?

“Based on these findings, it’s clear that the U.Va. situation is just a canary in the coal mine,” said Brandon H. Busteed, executive director of Gallup Education. “College presidents, writ large, are extremely skeptical about the value of MOOCs as it relates to reducing cost, improving quality, and even expanding reach. And with governing boards that have strong business backgrounds and have been reading all of Clay Christensen’s writing about how online education and MOOCs will change the world, there’s bound to be big clashes ahead at most — not just some — institutions.”

via Survey finds presidents are skeptical on MOOCs | Inside Higher Ed.

May 29, 2013 at 1:28 am 3 comments

Hopscotch for iPad Aims to Make Coding Kid-Friendly

A graphical programming language for kids that runs on the iPad!  It can’t do much, but it’s an interesting direction.

Called Hopscotch, this iPad-only app uses visual programming language, in which users drag “blocks” of code into a scripting area in order to build programs. Aimed primarily at girls age 8 and up, Hopscotch is meant to utilize the touch-friendly tablet and eliminate the frustration common with code syntax.

Hopscotch was created by Jocelyn Leavitt, who, along with her co-founder, was inspired by a lack of female engineers at her previous job. “So many iPads are going into schools, and a lot of teachers don’t know what to do with this iPad. This gives you some control over a programming language,” Leavitt said.

via Hopscotch for iPad Makes Coding Kid-Friendly – Lauren Goode – Product News – AllThingsD.

May 28, 2013 at 1:41 am 1 comment

Wayne State researcher aims to make STEM education more accessible to Native American students

This is interesting to me both as an example of connecting Native American students with STEM education and as something cool that my alma mater is doing.

While attracting and retaining Native Americans has remained elusive due to a perceived lack of cultural relevance and/or support for STEM, Ferreira believes there is a way to break down this barrier.

“Native youth are taught to respect elders, and many elders are ‘keepers of traditional knowledge’ which interfaces with science,” said Ferreira. “Linking elders to postsecondary STEM education for Natives will improve perceptions of STEM as culturally relevant and culturally supportive of Natives, and impact Native student interest, pursuit and endurance in STEM careers.”

via News and Announcements – Division of Research.

May 28, 2013 at 1:41 am Leave a comment

Announcing the Institute for African-American Mentoring in Computing Sciences

Congratulations to Juan Gilbert and his colleagues (see list) who have just launched a new NSF Broadening Participation in Computing Alliance, Institute for African-American Mentoring in Computing Sciences.  This new alliance extends the work of multiple NSF BPC Alliances (A4RC, ARTSI, EL Alliance) and Demonstration Projects (AARCS) that utilized different strategies toward broadening the participation of African-Americans in computing sciences.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Clemson University a $5 million grant to launch the Institute for African-American Mentoring in Computing Sciences.

The institute will serve as a national resource and emphasize mentoring as the primary strategy for increasing African-American participation in computing under the direction of Juan Gilbert, Presidential Endowed Professor and chairman of the Human-Centered Computing Division at Clemson, and Shaundra Daily, assistant professor in the School of Computing.

“African-Americans represent about 1 percent of the computer science faculty and researchers in the U.S.,” Gilbert said. “We formed this institute to increase the number of underrepresented groups earning computing science doctoral degrees and researchers in the academy, government and private sector.”

via Clemson receives $5M for alliance to increase African-Americans in computer sciences | Clemson University, South Carolina.

May 24, 2013 at 1:52 am 2 comments

Why your 8-year-old should be coding | VentureBeat

It’s an interesting idea, that 8 year olds should be coding, but I don’t buy this argument.  Computing will be everywhere, and new jobs will be created that need computing.  But doesn’t it really mean that 8 year olds should be taught job skills?  Will they remember those job skills by the time they hit the job market?  What can we teach an 8 year old in computing that will still be relevant 9 years later?  I do buy the importance of influencing students’ opinions and dreams early on.

Vedati, on the other hand, is planning for the long term by working with kids much younger, much earlier, trying to educate them about those options when they still have years to form opinions and create and live their own dreams.

“If you close your eyes and think about the world 10 years from now, it will be completely different,” Vedati said.

“Kids will have computing everywhere. Doctors will be using computing to make decisions. Jobs will require more technology. … The new jobs that will be created won’t be just programming jobs. But can you think about organizing data? Information and computation is coming to every field.”

And that, dear readers, is why your eight-year-old should be coding.

via Why your 8-year-old should be coding | VentureBeat.

May 24, 2013 at 1:31 am 4 comments

Duke University Leaves Semester Online: Questions about long-term effects

Semester Online sounded like a nice idea — getting liberal arts focused institutions to share their online course offerings.  The pushback is interesting and reflects some of the issues that have been raised about sustainability of online education as a replacement for face-to-face learning or even as an additional resource.

While Dr. Lange saw the consortium as expanding the courses available to Duke students, some faculty members worried that the long-term effect might be for the university to offer fewer courses — and hire fewer professors. Others said there had been inadequate consultation with the faculty.

When 2U, the online education platform that would host the classes, announced Semester Online last year, it named 10 participants, including Duke, the University of Rochester, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest — none of which will be offering courses this fall. “Schools had to go through their processes to determine how they were going to participate,” said Chance Patterson, a 2U spokesman, “and some decided to wait or go in another direction.”

via Duke University Leaves Semester Online – NYTimes.com.

May 23, 2013 at 1:05 am 2 comments

What I Learned from Computing in Schools Efforts

I just did a Blog@CACM post on my experiences at three meetings over the last two weeks, learning about efforts to get computing into primary and secondary schools in two countries (Denmark and England) and in two US states (South Carolina and Maryland).

Here are those four big lessons (with more detail in the post):

  • It’s easier to have something in place and then improve it, than to convince others that computing should be squeezed in.  
  • Industry voices matter.
  • Public policy support goes a long way.
  • Economics isn’t the only argument.

 

May 22, 2013 at 1:12 am 4 comments

Visit from Farnam Jahanian, AD for CISE at NSF

Farnam Jahanian visited Georgia Tech last month.  Farnam is the Assistant Director at the US National Science Foundation, in charge of all computing related funding (CISE Division).  He spoke to issues about computing education funding, and I got to ask some of my questions, too.

He said that the Office of Management and Budget has really been driving the effort to consolidate STEM education funding programs.  OMB was unhappy that Biology, Engineering, and CISE all had their own STEM education programs.  However, CISE got to keep their education research program (as the new STEM-C program) because it was already a collaboration with the education division in NSF (EHR).  All the rest (including TUES) is being collapsed into the new EHR programs.

In his talk, he made an explicit argument which I’ve heard Jan Cuny make, but hadn’t heard an NSF AD make previously:

  1. We have a dramatic underproduction of computing degrees, around 40K per year.
  2. We have a dramatic under-representation of certain demographic groups (e.g., women, African-Americans, Hispanics), and we can’t solve #1 without solving that under-representation.  He says that the basic arithmetic won’t work.  We can’t get enough graduates unless we broaden participation in computing.
  3. We have a lack of presence in primary and secondary school in the United States (K-12).  He claims that we can’t solve #2 without fixing #3.  We have to have a presence so that women and under-represented minority groups will discover computing and pursue degrees (and careers) in it.

May 22, 2013 at 1:05 am 4 comments

Please apply to ICER 2013 Doctoral Consortium!

I’ve been involved in the SIGCSE Doctoral Consortium when it was associated with the SIGCSE Symposium, and it’s even more valuable now that it’s associated with the ICER Conference.  I think I’m allowed to say that I’ve been invited to be a discussant at this year’s DC, and I’m looking forward to being there. Graduate students, please do apply; Advisors of students working in computing education, please encourage your students to apply!

The ICER 2013 Doctoral Consortium provides an opportunity for doctoral students to explore and develop their research interests in a workshop under the guidance of a panel of distinguished researchers. We invite students who feel they would benefit from this kind of feedback on their dissertation work to apply for this unique opportunity to share their work with students in a similar situation as well as senior researchers in the field. The strongest candidates will be those who have a clear topic and research approach, and have made some progress, but who are not so far along that they can no longer make changes. However, we welcome submissions from students at any stage of their doctoral studies. In addition to stating how you will gain from participation, both you and your advisor should be clear on what you can contribute to the Doctoral Consortium.

Allison Elliott Tew, University of Washington Tacoma

Jonas Boustedt, University of Gävle

icerdc2013@gmail.com

What is the Doctoral Consortium?

The Consortium has the following objectives:

  • Provide a supportive setting for feedback on students’ current research and guidance on future research directions
  • Offer each student comments and fresh perspectives on their work from researchers and students outside their own institution
  • Promote the development of a supportive community of scholars and a spirit of collaborative research
  • Support a new generation of researchers with information and advice on research and academic career paths

via Doctoral Consortium | ICER Conference.

May 21, 2013 at 1:47 am 1 comment

Georgia Tech Will Offer a Master’s Degree Online – NYTimes.com

In case anyone didn’t see the various articles, Georgia Tech’s College of Computing will be offering a Udacity-based MS degree starting.  The faculty did vote on the proposal. I argued against it (based mostly on learning and diversity arguments), but lost (which led to my long winter post).

Faculty in the College of Computing have been asked not to talk about the online MS degree (which seems weird to me — asking faculty not to talk about their own degree programs).  Please understand if I don’t answer questions in response to this announcement.

Starting in the fall, the Georgia Institute of Technology, together with AT&T and Udacity, an online education venture, will offer a master’s degree in computer science that can be earned entirely through so-called massive open online courses, or MOOCs. While the courses would be available free online to the general public, students seeking the degree would have to have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, and pay tuition that is expected to be less than $7,000.

via Georgia Tech Will Offer a Master’s Degree Online – NYTimes.com.

May 21, 2013 at 1:34 am 18 comments

Why does the US have so many of the world’s smartest students?

Useful piece that helps to explain how the US can be doing so well in terms of education and so awful at the same time.  The problem is our enormous variance, in part explain by our enormous size.  Averages are way different than individuals.

Part of this is easy to explain: The United States is big. Very big. And it’s a far bigger country than the other members of the OECD. We claim roughly 27 percent of the group’s 15-to-19-year-olds. Japan, in contrast, has a smidge over 7 percent. So in reading and in science, we punch above our weight by just a little, while in math we punch below.

But the point remains: In two out of three subjects, Americans are over-represented among the best students.

If we have so many of the best minds, why are our average scores so disappointingly average? As Rutgers’s Hal Salzman and Georgetown’s B. Lindsay Lowell, who co-authored the EPI report, noted in a 2008 Nature article, our high scorers are balanced out by an very large number of low scorers. Our education system, just like our economy, is polarized.

via You’ll Be Shocked by How Many of the World’s Top Students Are American – Jordan Weissmann – The Atlantic.

May 20, 2013 at 1:24 am 2 comments

New Report from NCWIT: Girls in IT

I’ve just started reading the new report, and I’m going to be recommending it often — lots of detail, connections to lots of literature, and useful synthesis.  As usual, NCWIT does a great job with resources.  They provide the report, and also a nice infographic and charts & graphs for others to use.

Girls in IT: The Facts, sponsored by NCWIT’s K-12 Alliance, is a synthesis of the existing literature on increasing girls’ participation in computing. It aims to bring together this latest research so that readers can gain a clearer and more coherent picture of 1) the current state of affairs for girls in computing, 2) the key barriers to increasing girls’ participation in these fields, and 3) promising practices for addressing these barriers.

via Girls in IT: The Facts | National Center for Women & Information Technology.

May 20, 2013 at 1:10 am Leave a comment

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