Archive for November, 2013

Why Arts and Social Science Needs Code: Testimonials

Interesting set of testimonials from people in arts and social science on why they have found it useful to learn to code (thanks to Alfred Thompson for the link).  Gas Stations Without Pumps has an interesting post based on one of the testimonials.

Being able to code to express yourself is one of the most powerful tools available to artists today. Artists should look at programming languages as they do any other medium- watercolor, acrylic, clay- they are all tools to allow you to develop and communicate your vision with your audience.

via The Female Perspective of Computer Science: Why Arts and Social Science Needs Code: Testimonials.

November 29, 2013 at 1:07 am Leave a comment

Too little and too much self-efficacy is bad for interest

What an interesting paper! (Pun slightly intended.)  In this paper from Paul Silvia, he found experimentally that self-efficacy and interest are related on a bell-shaped curve.  Too little self-efficacy makes a task seem too daunting and uninteresting.  Too much makes the task boring.  This is important because we know that self-efficacy is among the most significant factors influencing non-majors success in learning to program.  It’s clear that there’s a sweet spot that we’re aiming for.

www.uncg.edu__p_silvia_papers_03_JVB__Self-Efficacy___Interest-graph

November 28, 2013 at 1:25 am 11 comments

A sign of the higher education times: Kennesaw State and Southern Polytechnic Will Consolidate

I know faculty at both KSU and SPSU.  My PhD student, Briana Morrison, is faculty at SPSU.  No one that I spoke to had any idea this was happening.  These aren’t small schools.  SPSU is one of the few universities in Georgia with a publicly-funded engineering program.  KSU+SPSU is considerably larger than Georgia Tech.  Is this part of the consolidation of higher education foretold by the MOOCopalyptic visions?

Kennesaw State University and Southern Polytechnic State University will consolidate to form a new institution to be named Kennesaw State University. The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia will be asked by Chancellor Hank Huckaby to approve the consolidation plan during its upcoming November meeting.

“We must continue to carefully examine our structure and programs to ensure we have the right model that best serves our students and the state,” Huckaby said. “This proposal offers us some exciting possibilities to enlarge our academic outreach through the existing talent and resources at both these institutions.”

The decision to consolidate the two institutions, whose combined enrollment this fall is 31,178 students and combined annual economic impact on the region is $1.15 billion

via Kennesaw State and Southern Polytechnic Will Consolidate – Newsroom – University System of Georgia.

November 27, 2013 at 1:27 am 3 comments

Sew Electric: New book on LilyPad from Leah Buechly

A new book on LilyPad based projects:

If you’re interested in interactive toys, smart accessories, or light-up fashions, this book is for you! Sew Electric is a set of hands-on LilyPad Arduino tutorials that bring together craft, electronics, and programming. The book walks you through the process of designing and making a series of quirky customizable projects including a sparkling bracelet, a glow in the dark bookmark, a fabric piano, and a monster that sings when you hold its hands. Play with cutting-edge technologies and learn sewing, programming, and circuit design along the way. It’s a book for all ages. Explore the projects with your friends, your parents, your kids, or your students!

via SEW ELECTRIC | DIY PROJECTS THAT COMBINE FABRIC, ELECTRONICS AND PROGRAMMING.

November 26, 2013 at 1:53 am Leave a comment

Teasing apart the issues of women in computing: Impact of Hollywood

The NYTimes just had a piece about the lack of women in computing.

There is, of course, no pop-culture corollary for computer science. A study financed by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media found that recent family films, children’s shows and prime-time programs featured extraordinarily few characters with computer science or engineering occupations, and even fewer who were female. The ratio of men to women in those jobs is 14.25 to 1 in family films and 5.4 to 1 in prime time. Whenever high-ranking people in the tech industry meet, whether at the White House or a Clinton Global Initiative conference, one executive says, “we almost always walk away from the discussion having come to the conclusion we need a television show.” Nearly every tech or nonprofit executive I spoke with mentioned their hope that “The Social Network” has improved the public’s perception of programmers. They also mentioned how bummed they were that the hit film didn’t include more prominent female characters. Meanwhile, the National Academy of Sciences now offers a program called the Sciences and Entertainment Exchange that gives writers and producers free consultation with all kinds of scientists. Natalie Portman’s character in the superhero movie “Thor,” for instance, started out as a nurse. After a consultation with scientists introduced through the exchange, she became an astrophysicist.

via I Am Woman, Watch Me Hack – NYTimes.com.

It’s a big and complicated issue why there are so few women in computing in the US.  The author of the NYTimes article thinks that it’s about exposure.

Part of the issue, it seems, is exposure. Most people don’t come into contact with computer scientists or engineers in their daily lives, and don’t really understand what they do. American schools don’t do a great job of teaching computer science skills either.

Trying to remedy this are numerous nonprofit and educational organizations, among them Code.org, which lobbies to get more computer science classes in schools. Others try to provide computer science lessons outside of a traditional school setting. Girls Who Code, for example, has eight-week boot camps that teach middle and high school girls programming skills – in languages like Java, PHP, and Python – as well as algorithms, Web design, robotics, and mobile app development.

via Nudging Girls Toward Computer Science – NYTimes.com.

Which seems to say that it’s mass media (like Hollywood) that deters women from computer science — the argument suggested below.  I disagree.  Yes, students are getting uninformed ideas about computer science from mass media, but that’s because they don’t see the real thing anywhere.  People don’t leave Disneyworld thinking that six-foot rats can talk — because they have some other experience of rodents.  Our real challenge is giving students the opportunity to see a real programmer, real programming, real program code.

There’s a well-researched, much-fretted-over dearth of women in the tech sector, more specifically in the field of computer science. According to the Times’ Catherine Rampell, the dismal numbers of women majoring in computer science, or becoming computer programmers don’t seem to be improving, either: just 0.4 percent of all female college freshmen say they plan on majoring in computer science, despite the fact that, as far as professional fields go, computer science and engineering offer college grads some of the most promising employment opportunities. We need computer programs and bridges, college, not another pack of aimless fedora-wearers chain-smoking Parliaments outside of the liberal arts building.

via How Hollywood Helps Deter Women from Computer Science.

November 25, 2013 at 1:30 am 3 comments

Women Gain in Some STEM Fields, but Not Computer Science – NYTimes.com

Brand new data, same old story.

As you can see, a majority of bachelor’s degrees in some STEM fields — psychology, biosciences, social sciences — were actually given to women in recent years. And women’s participation in these fields has also risen, on net, since 1991, even if there has been some erosion in biosciences in recent years. Women receive less than half of physical sciences degrees, but they earn a much higher share than they did two decades ago.

Now take a look at the trends in computer science and engineering. Engineering is slightly more female-heavy than it was in 1991, but not much: 15.5 percent then versus 18.4 percent in 2010, the most recent year in the report. Computer science actually is more male-dominated today than it was two decades ago: Women received 29.6 percent of computer science B.A.’s in 1991, compared with 18.2 percent in 2010.

via Women Gain in Some STEM Fields, but Not Computer Science – NYTimes.com.

November 24, 2013 at 1:37 am 1 comment

Paying to attract more CS teachers in England

Computing is included as one of the priorities in England’s offer of special funding to attract more teachers.  Scholarships up to 25K pounds are pretty impressive.  Texas is offering loan forgiveness. I don’t know if there’s anyone else in the US trying this approach.

Schools Minister David Laws said more scholarships and bursaries would be available to help recruit the most talented graduates with the potential to be brilliant teachers in key subjects. This would help raise standards in schools and ensure all children were given a good education.

Scholarships, awarded by respected subject organisations, will be available to the most talented maths, physics, chemistry and computing trainees. Bursaries will be available to top graduates in maths, physics, chemistry, computing, and languages, in primary and in priority subjects at secondary school (English, history, biology, geography, music, and design and technology).

via Bigger bursaries and scholarships to attract more top graduates into teaching – Press releases – GOV.UK.

November 22, 2013 at 1:43 am 1 comment

What Sir Ken Got Wrong, and what the blogger got wrong too

Really interesting blog post, dissecting the mistakes made in a very popular TED talk.

Sir Ken’s ideas aren’t just impractical; they are undesirable. Here’s the trouble with his arguments:

1. Talent, creativity and intelligence are not innate, but come through practice.

2. Learning styles and multiple intelligences don’t exist.

3. Literacy and numeracy are the basis for creativity.

4. Misbehaviour is a bigger problem in our schools than conformity.

5. Academic achievement is vital but unequal, partly because…

6. Rich kids get rich cultural knowledge, poor kids don’t.

via What Sir Ken Got Wrong | Pragmatic Education.

I don’t completely agree with all of Pragmatic Education’s arguments.

  • Intelligence may not be malleable.  You can learn more knowledge, and that can come from practice.  It’s not clear that fluid intelligence is improved with practice.
  • Learning styles don’t seem to exist.  Multiple intelligences?  I don’t think that the answer is as clear there.
  • Creativity comes from knowing things.  Literacy and numeracy are great ways of coming to know things.  It’s a bit strong to say that creativity comes from literacy and numeracy.
  • There are lots of reasons why rich kids are unequal to poor kids (see the issue about poverty and cognitive function.)  Cultural knowledge is just part of it.

But 90% — I think he gets what’s wrong with Sir Ken’s arguments.

November 21, 2013 at 1:30 am 3 comments

A set of top Computer Science Education blogs from @DrTomCrick

I’m honored and pleased to be in this set!  Worth checking out, every one.

Further to my most-read blog post from May 2012: A set of top Computer Science blogs, 80,000 hits and counting, here’s a follow-up: blogs on computer science education.As before, instead of a list, it more closely resembles a set: the order is irrelevant and there are no duplicate elements; membership of this set of blogs satisfies all of the following conditions:they focus on computer science education research, policy and practice;they are of consistently high quality;I regularly read them.

via A set of top Computer Science Education blogs | Computing: The Science of Nearly Everything.

November 20, 2013 at 1:21 am 4 comments

One reason we have so much engineering and so little computer science taught at US high schools. | ACM Inroads

Joe Kmoch wrote an interesting follow-on to my blog post about why we have so little CS ed in the US.  Why is that engineering is succeeding so much more than CS in high schools in the US?  He suggests that (in part) it’s because engineering is getting the PD right.

I think the reason is that groups like Project Lead the Way (PLTW) offer an “off the shelf” high quality program, vetted by engineers.  The attractiveness of this is that the school and students get access to a number of well-written up-to-date courses and they also get access to intensive professional development for teachers who want to teach a particular PLTW course.  Teachers must not only take but also pass the two-week intensive summer course before being allowed to teach a particular course.  There is regular monitoring of schools in terms of offering a minimal 3-course sequence of engineering courses and evaluating how well these courses are being taught.

In computer science we have really never had such a program available.  The AP is not such a program.  If a school wants to teach a computer science course, they have to find a teacher who is willing to put together a course syllabus, and then teach that course.  (For AP, the course must be audited for fidelity).  There really isn’t any professional development required to teach any kind of computer science course in most states.

via One reason we have so much engineering and so little computer science taught at US high schools. | ACM Inroads.

November 19, 2013 at 1:30 am 2 comments

Please sign petition to make computer science count as a core subject in California

Debra Richardson, our ECEP Partner in California, sent this to me yesterday.  Please do support this initiative!

Please sign ACCESS’ petition to
George C. Johnson, Chair of University of California Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools;
William Jacob, Chair of UC Academic Senate;
Diana Wright Guerin, Chair of CSU Academic Senate:
Computer science drives job growth and innovation in California.  Help us make computer science count as a core subject requirement—mathematics or science—for admission to UC and CSU campuses.

Please sign the petition and join this campaign: http://chn.ge/1bvfqPx

Full Petition Text:
California is known as a world leader in driving the digital age through computing and the information technology sector. Yet, few K-12 students have access to high-quality computer science education in the state. A key obstacle is that rigorous, college-preparatory computer science courses do not satisfy a core mathematics or science admission requirement for either the University of California (UC) or California State University (CSU) system. We are seeking that computer science satisfy a core requirement for college admissions.
Computer science is driving job growth and innovation throughout California’s economy and society.  By 2018, California will need to fill 517,890 computing-related jobs – about half of a total of 1.1 million STEM jobs.  These occupations dominate “help wanted” ads, and computer science is one of the most lucrative and hottest degrees for new college graduates.  Rigorous computer science courses develop students’ computational and critical thinking skills and teach them how to create—not just use—new technologies. This fundamental knowledge is needed to prepare students for the 21st century, regardless of their ultimate field of study or occupation.
The limited access to K-12 computer science education in California creates serious gender and equity issues for underserved minorities. Of all California AP Computer Science test takers in 2010-11, only 21% were female, less than 1% were African-American and only 8% were Latino (despite the fact that Latinos make up the majority of California’s public school students). A study by the Computer Science Teachers Association found that the most important factor in whether young women and students of color choose to take computer science is if it counts towards a high school graduation requirement.
Computer science courses do not currently count towards core high school graduation requirements in California—they are treated as electives. Moreover, neither the University of California (UC) nor the California State University (CSU) campuses count computer science as satisfying a mathematics or science requirement towards admission; at best computer science counts as a college-prep elective. Given other academic demands, most college-bound students don’t afford themselves the time to take computer science, nor do students on a vocational pathway.
We are seeking to count computer science as a core subject requirement—mathematics “C” or science “D”—for admission to UC and CSU, rather than as an elective—“G” credit. This change would not require schools to offer computer science or require all students to study it – that is, high school graduation requirements would not change – but would simply allow computer science courses to satisfy existing core college admissions requirements. This change would, on the other hand, encourage students to take computer science and thereby become prepared with 21st century skills for our knowledge-based economy.
To learn more about making computer science count nationally, visit code.org.
For specific information about why it’s important to make computer science count in California, visit access-ca.org – the Alliance for California Computing Education for Students and Schools.

_____________
Debra Richardson
Professor of Informatics
Founding Dean, Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences
Chair, Alliance for California Computing Education for Students and Schools (ACCESS)
PI, Expanding Computing Education Pathways – California (ECEP-CA)
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA 92697-3440

November 18, 2013 at 5:24 am 2 comments

Special issue of Journal on Live Coding in Music Education

Live Coding in Music Education – A call for papers
We are excited to announce a call for papers for a special issue of The Journal of Music, Technology & Education, with a deadline of 28 February 2014, for likely publication in July/August 2014. The issue will be guest edited by Professor Andrew R. Brown (Griffith University, Australia), and will address epistemological themes and pedagogical practices related to the use of live coding in formal and informal music education settings.
Live coding involves programming a computer as an explicit onstage performance. In such circumstance, the computer system is the musical instrument, and the practice is often improvisational. Live coding techniques can also be used as a musical prototyping (composition and production) tool with immediate feedback. Live coding can be solo or collaborative and can involve networked performances with other live coders, instrumentalists or vocalists.
Live coding music involves the notation of sonic and musical processes in code. These can describe sound synthesis, rhythmic and harmonic organization, themes and gestures, and control of musical form and structure. Live coding also extends out beyond pure music and sound to the general digital arts, including audiovisual systems, robotics and more.
While live coding can be a virtuosic practice, it is increasingly being used in educational and community arts contexts. In these settings, its focus on immediacy, generative creativity, computational and design thinking, and collaboration are being exploited to engage people with music in a non-traditional way. The inherently digital nature of live coding practices presents opportunities for networked collaborations and online leaning.
This special edition of JMTE will showcase research in live coding activities in educational and community arts settings, to inspire music educators about the possibilities of live coding, to interrogate the epistemological and pedagogical opportunities and challenges.
Topic suggestions include, but are not limited to:
– Live coding ensembles
– Bridging art-science boundaries through live coding
– Exploring music concepts as algorithmic processes
– The blending of composition and performance in live coding practices
– Combining instrument design and use
– Coding as music notational literacy
– Informal learning with live coding
– Integrating live coding practices into formal music educational structures
– Online learning with live coding
Contributors should follow all JMTE author guidelines
(URL http://tinyurl.com/jmte-info) paying particular attention to the word count of between 5,000 and 8,000 words for an article. In addition, please read carefully the information concerning the submission of images.
Submissions should be received by 28 February 2014.  All submissions and queries should be addressed to andrew.r.brown@griffith.edu.au

November 18, 2013 at 1:50 am Leave a comment

The #include Fellowship to high school students from she++: Inspiring Women to Empower Computer Science

Sign up by Dec 11!  (Remind students that Stanford is a fabulous place to visit.)

The #include Fellowship provides resources and content to ambitious high school students who wish to cultivate their own technical skills and facilitate conversations within their communities about computer science & the importance of diversity in technology.

Each High School student will work with a College mentor to bring technology into their communities. High School students may apply to present their work over the course of the year at the #include Summit (April 3-5) at Stanford University.

via she++: Inspiring Women to Empower Computer Science.

November 16, 2013 at 1:05 am Leave a comment

Try out the Hour of Code tutorials for CSEd Week 2013

Try out the tutorials for the Hour of Code for CSEd Week 2013.

Choose a tutorial for your students

Check out the tutorials and pick one for your class. Note: we have not yet received the Hour of Code submissions from Scratch or KhanAcademy, so check back for those. Also, more international/multilingual support is on its way.

Go through the tutorial yourself so you can help students during the Hour of Code.

Test tutorials on student computers or devices. Make sure they work properly (with sound and video).

Preview the congrats page to see what students will see when they finish.

If the tutorial you choose works best with sound, provide headphones for your class, or ask students to bring their own.

via Learn | The Hour of Code 2013.

November 16, 2013 at 1:04 am 2 comments

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