The most annoying teacher in the world

January 17, 2013  |  Tags:   |  



Khan Academy does Computer Science, courtesy of John Resig, creator of jQuery. His blog post goes into some detail about the pedagogy they’ve adopted and the technology behind it.

Looks promising! Reminds me a little about how I was introduced to programming through the Logo Turtle and mucking around with DOS QBASIC games like Gorillas. We’ll see if we can try these exercises out with students at some point.

Previously required your school to register; now, any instructor can log in and use iTunes U Course Manager. Looking forward to trying this out.

(Mildly annoying feature: forces you to use Safari.)

From The Physics Factbook, “an encyclopedia of scientific essays”:

The purpose of this analysis is to determine the evolution of gravity in the Mario video game series as video game hardware increases.

I love stuff like this.

From the Teacher Network Blog on The Guardian:

Twenty years ago our blogger lost one of his pupils on the London Underground and didn’t even report the incident to the child’s mother or his headteacher… fast forward to the present day and it’s a very different story

A little old in Internet-time, but I just got around to reading it, and it’s a fun read with a very insightful conclusion that’s not “OMG look at kids and parents nowadays ughhhh”.

When I first read the title, though, I thought it was “the day I lost a child on YouTube”. THE HORROR

Ah, Blackboard:

Short version: I love CUNY and I love public education. Blackboard is a parasite on both. Writing free software is the best way I know to disrupt the awful relationship between companies like Blackboard and vulnerable populations like CUNY undergraduates.

Wired Educator (not Wired/Educator, though, judging from the terrible logo) on the AppleTV instead of a projector (or worse, interactive whiteboard):

Using my iPad and AirPlay, I can wirelessly mirror any content on my iPad to the screen at the front of the room. The real advantage is evident during collaborative activities. Students can use their own iOS devices to connect to the AppleTV to share their work with the rest of the class. I can be anywhere in the room and still run my lesson. I can pull up sound and video clips on my iPad and instantly share them with my class without being attached to any particular location in the room.

There’s so much potential here, especially with AirPlay support for Macs in Mountain Lion. TVs are cheaper and higher-resolution than most projectors, too.

(Aside: the AppleTV has become one of my favourite Apple devices in recent memory. So great.)

An interesting argument: that calculating devices are now ubiquitous, and math should focus on computational problem-solving instead of drilling and memorisation. An example the author cites:

Computer languages allow students to transform ideas into action. Here is a simple rule that a math teacher might describe to her students: If the number is greater than 9, carry the 10’s place; otherwise add the number to the bottom row.

The solution for this can be expressed as a simple if/else statement:

if (number > 9)
    carry += number / 10;
    bottom += number;

There are, as expected, plenty of opposing views in the comments, but it’s good food for thought. Also noteworthy: the comments aren’t completely stupid. Not-completely-stupid comments! On the Internet! WHAT IS THIS WORLD WE’RE LIVING IN

Interesting piece on protecting teachers from destructive management through data-driven evaluation, with corollaries to how programmers are evaluated:

Bill Gates is making the same crusade he made for developers — protection from the type of overly simplified management incentives that destroy your ability to focus on the tasks at hand when working in a complex, creative profession.

Related: Confessions of a ‘Bad’ Teacher, in today’s New York Times. This teacher, who received an “unsatisfactory” rating wasn’t even evaluated on any automated effectiveness metrics, though, which speaks of how tough a problem this is.

From the blog behind the “Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python” book:

“[For] the casually interested or schoolchildren with several activities competing for their attention, programming concepts like variables and loops and data types aren’t interesting in themselves. They don’t want to learn how to program just for the sake of programming. They don’t want to learn about algorithm complexity or implicit casting. They want to make Super Mario or Twitter or Angry Birds.”

We’ve actually found that our students are usually quite happy to spend lots of time making silly console-output programs, like printing a pyramid of asterisks. However, the intro programming courses we’ve conducted have been for a fairly self-selected bunch.

The book is available online for free, and it certainly looks like a great instructional resource.