March 8th – Medium Article

Today feels like cheating – but it’s a great article so I’m passing it on.  Medium is a great online publishing magazine and I subscribe to the daily digest and usually end up reading one or two.  Since my job is to introduce Computer Science to students, this article really hit home for me.  Enjoy!

March 8th – Medium Article

Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was Learning How To Code by Cecily Carver is a great meta piece about coding in 2016.  People have developed these skills in different ways for decades and unlike English, Math or other subjects – there is not a lot of formal education to create a basic knowledge base for everyone to have.  A lot of the things in this article are the exact conversations I find myself having everyday.  So read on, and remember these as you are programming your first thing (the second and third times too).

***Caution: Has a few “naughty” words – but we’re all adults here… right?***

 

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March 5th – Lynda.com

Ah Saturday – a chance to kick back and enjoy a cup of coffee at home.  Although it’s the weekend the learning doesn’t have to stop! In earlier post I’ve talked about the “coding academies” that “teach” people to code through exercises and videos for skills, but the academies don’t stop at coding.  In academics these new online open courses are called “MOOC” for Massive Open Online Course and they are growing – one of the originals I heard about was Lynda.com which I recently joined and really like.

March 5th – Lynda.com

Information is growing exponentially – most experts will tell you we are creating more information than we can store right now so it’s impossible to know everything.  But with that, it is very likely that a skill you want to learn is available in a MOOC or has a YouTube video somewhere about it.  Lynda.com is an excellent MOOC that is vetted with talented instructors and a smart setup.

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Lynda.com is a pay per month (or yearly subscription service) that allows you access to their entire library.  They have dozens of screencast on everything from music to programming to how to make a screencast (seriously – it’s very meta).  As you can see from the screen shots above, it’s got 12 categories and seemingly hundreds of videos in each.  They have a free trial for 10 days which is well worth it if you’ve got some spare time, then different plans based on pricing for the year (month to month options and then a premium version that allows downloads).

So sign up, log in, grab that cup of coffee and enjoy a learning experience in the 21st century!

February 22nd – Code School and Google Drive

“A Week With…” Google Drive bonus post!  This one is more an “add-on” that take a little extra effort.  My love of Computer Science has taken me far and wide on the Internet.  I find articles, curriculums and academies and actually spend a majority of my time checking them out (my “cool high school 18 year old self” would be ashamed).  One that is great, but comes with a cost for the “regular courses”, is CodeSchool.com.  Codeschool.com will be reviewed in a later post, but they have a free course on Google Drive that is worth checking out.

February 22nd – “A Week With…” Google Drive + CodeSchool.com

CodeSchool.com is a excellent website to teach you basic skills in different programming languages – I’ve taken the JavaScript course and it was great, easy to follow instructions, videos to guide you before each set of exercises and then some challenging stuff that you really had to think about.  The downside?  It’s $30 month, which isn’t bad by any means, but I ended up beating myself up when I didn’t use it as often as I wanted to (you know, other “life” stuff getting in the way).  Fortunately CodeSchool also offers some free courses as well, and Google Drive is one of them.  Just visit CodeSchool Google Drive API Course and follow along to the 10 lessons they give you to work through.  By the end you’ll feel like a rock star and hopefully seek out a few more CodeSchool free courses.

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CodeSchool Google Drive Elective API Course Home Page screenshot taken February 22nd

 

January 28th – code.org

A short 3 years ago, code.org was launched and the Computer Science world has never been the same.  The CEO Hadi Partovi graduated from Harvard, worked for Microsoft (a few times as they purchased his startups) and then realized that he could be doing more for the youth of America in regards to Computer Science.  So he did.

January 28th – Code.org

In 2013, Code.org started with this video, and schools around America realized that this is what they needed to reach a new generation of students.  They began the Hour of Code which encourages everyone to try coding (through tutorials) for an hour to see how simple it can be.  3 years later, Code.org is the leader for CS education in America and building and expanding everyday.  Exploring Computer Science, Bootstrap, The Beauty and Joy of Computing are all supported by them (and the National Science Foundation [NSF]) and that support allows teachers who have taught the course to become facilitators and train other teachers.  This work is also supported by the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) which works with curriculum but also states to recognize Computer Science as a subject and for teachers to be licensed in it.

We are at a very exciting time in our history as the world is changing, becoming smaller thanks to technology, and we are on the cusp of developing a brand new curriculum in schools to support it.  It’s what I’m passionate about, and after a few tutorials hopefully you’ll become to.

With the recent announcement by the President and #CS4All – I’ll be posting a lot more on all of this!

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Code.org Home Page taken January 30th

January 25th – EdX

With the influx of academies and websites offering classes and “knowledge” on the internet, it’s difficult to know what to trust and not. With Harvard and MIT, they always seem to have a finger on the pulse of how things are changing. And while I’m not saying that the academies are bad (I’ll be reviewing quite a few of them here) EdX is a vetted source which a lot of college professors are offering their classes AND giving you a badge or certificate to use on future resumes.

January 25th – EdX

EdX is the brainchild of Harvard and MIT, yes, the same Harvard with the prestige and is in the new for possibly offering free tuition to brake down that barrier to college. EdX is an improved Blackboard or Moodle that isn’t within the organization to use it.  EdX is another MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) with around 90 partnerships with Universities and Companies to provide you, free of charge, an education.  I suggest looking around – and diving in, it’s quite the rabbit hole and who knows who’ll emerge out of it! (Probably you, with some more knowledge…)

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EdX Home Page (screenshot taken January 30th)

 

January 12th – CS50

As mentioned before, there are plenty of “coding resources” available today.  Code.org created the “Hour of Code” and everyone started creating these small 60 minute segments but there are plenty of more robust curriculums out there.  I’ve spoken of the online “academies” that teaches you through the platform, but some people need a human being.  Codeschool gives you videos, but the format is still very much produced for the different audience.  iTunes U has given everyone the ability to watch some college level professors lecture for their entire class and it’s been a huge success.

January 12th – This is CS50

One of the more popular iTunes U courses is CS50, the Intro to Computer Science course at Harvard University (and now available at Yale). David J. Malan is a CS rockstar and proves a very hands on practical approach to CS for students just entering the subject area. The course features a dozen or so graduate assistants that tape the lectures and edit them together, so you get a nice feeling as if you were there.  The course covers everything in a simple way regardless of your math background, starting with Scratch on the first day and then building through binary code and HTML to PHP and finally a bulk is spent on C language.  Very entertaining and informative, 2 thumbs up!

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This is CS50 course website taken January 21st.

January 6th – HTML

The power of HTML cannot be understated.  The constant conversation in Computer Science is what “language” do you start with?  Scratch is an easy answer for elementary school age students, but what about a high schooler that is way beyond that kiddie stuff?

The conversation I have 18 times a day with staff members is that “kids grew up with this technology”.  I have teachers shocked how I’m able to guide students through projects using Google Sites or Drive (something they might struggle with).  Well, although students are a lot more adapt at using Facebook and other social media sites, there are certain things that they inherently have picked up from years on the internet.

January 6th, 2016 – Basic HTML

There are a dozen ways and even more opinions on how to teach HTML, the fact is all of them are basically correct, we just need exposure to HTML.  Sites like w3schools and codecademy  teach the basics but all in their in-page editors (inside of their webpage) but you can work with HTML on any computer with NotePad (PC’s) or TextEdit (Mac’s).  However, this post isn’t about that (maybe a future one will be) but this is encouraging people to reach out and connect with their students.  Meet them where they are and within a few minutes of trying to figure out a basic webpage, it will appear in your browser and your students will have the very same excited look on their faces.  Think about having that 10 page paper be a website with multiple webpages as the themes – it’s all just organization and quality of writing.  Have that history essay mimic a wikipedia page with dozens of sources as links.  In our foreign language class, have students make <tables> on conjugating verbs.Hey, you might learn something too…

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Homepage of W3Schools taken January 12th