Posts tagged ‘CS Unplugged’

CS Teacher Repositories: CS OER Portal, Ensemble, CSTA, CAS, and…

I just received this via email:

We would like to inform you that we have added recently many new resources to the Computer Science Open Educational Resources Portal (CS OER Portal)  ( ). For those of you who have not visited it, the Portal hosts a rich collection of links to open teaching/learning materials targeted specifically the area of Computer Science. It provides multiple ways for locating resources, including search with filtering the results by CS categories, material type, level, media format, etc., as well as browsing by institutional (OpenCourseWare) collections, by CS categories, or by topics as recommended by the ACM/IEEE Computer Science Curriculum. The browsing functionality is supplemented with recommendations for similar courses/resources.

My first thought was, “Is this competition for Ensemble, the big NSF-sponsored digital library of CS curricular materials?”

If we’re specifically thinking just about computing in schools (K-12 in the US), we should also consider the CSTA Source Web Repository and the Resources section of the Computing at Schools website (which is pretty big and growing almost daily).

Specifically for a particular tool or approach, there’s the Greenfoot Greenroom, ScratchEd for Scratch Teachers and other Educators, the Alice teacher’s site, the TeaParty site (for the Alice + MediaComp website), and of course, the Media Computation site.  I’m sure that there are many others — for particular books (like this one introducing Python with Objects), for particular curricular approaches (like Exploring Computer Science and CSUnplugged), and even for particular methods (I reference the Kinesthetic Learning Activities site in my TA preparation class).

It’s really great that there are so many repositories, so many resources to help CS teachers, and so many people developing and sharing resources.  I get concerned when I’m in a meeting where we’re talking about how to help CS teachers, and someone suggests (and it really happens in many of the meetings I attend), “If we only had a repository where teachers could find resources to help them…”  No, I really don’t think that more repositories is going to solve any problems at this point.

November 6, 2013 at 1:30 am 4 comments

CS Unplugged and Middle-School Students’ Views, Attitudes, and Intentions Regarding CS

I had heard references to “the April TOCE article about CS Unplugged,” and finally looked it up.  Below is the abstract.  It’s not really a surprising finding — just doing some activity doesn’t necessarily lead to transferable learning, to learning that you connect to other areas of the curriculum.  “Learning by doing” does not mean that any doing will lead to learning.  The default for learning anything is “brittle knowledge.”  It’s hard to make connections.  What this article is saying is: You need to make connections for CS Unplugged to have impact.  Students won’t connect CS Unplugged activities, by themselves, to computer science.

Many students hold incorrect ideas and negative attitudes about computer science (CS). In order to address these difficulties, a series of learning activities called Computer Science Unplugged was developed by Tim Bell and his colleagues. These activities expose young people to central concepts in CS in an entertaining way without requiring a computer. The CS Unplugged activities have become more and more popular among CS educators and several activities are recommended in the ACM K-12 curriculum for elementary schools. CS Unplugged is used worldwide and has been translated into many languages.

We examined the effect of the CS Unplugged activities on middle-school students’ ideas about CS and their desire to consider and study it in high school. The results indicate that following the activities the ideas of the students on what CS is about were partially improved, but their desire to study CS lessened.

In order to provide possible explanations to these results, we analyzed the CS Unplugged activities to determine to what extent the objectives of CS Unplugged were addressed in the activities. In addition, we checked whether the activities were designed according to constructivist principles and whether they were explicitly linked to central concepts in CS. We found that only some of the objectives were addressed in the activities, that the activities do not engage with the students’ prior knowledge and that most of the activities are not explicitly linked to central concepts in CS. We offer suggestions for modifying the CS Unplugged activities so that they will be more likely to achieve their objectives.

via CS Unplugged and Middle-School Students’ Views, Attitudes, and Intentions Regarding CS.

October 8, 2012 at 8:15 am 2 comments

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