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Comment Teacher here.... (Score 5, Interesting) 293

I teach a section of AP Computer Science, so I'm getting a kick out of these replies...

To people who don't have any programming experience coming in to the course, the class is a real bear. One of the big issues from the early days of the exam was the push-and-pull between high school instructors and college professors over just what an AP computer science student should proficiently be able to do.

The professors won, and began to dominate the content choices of the course and the exam. Of course, they were full of shit when they did so, and found that people who passed the course weren't usually well prepared for additional CS courses unless they had additional experience outside of APCS. This means that APCS wasn't the predictor it should have been. So there's been all kinds of fun content changes over the years. (I'm not talking about the language change from Pascal to C++ to Java; the material on the exam will be changing about 20% for just the coming year, for example, and I'm making sure I'm at an AP seminar this summer so I can properly prepare.)

As trite as it sounds, part of the challenge is funding. In Texas, where I teach, AP Computer Science is funded with the usual tax dollars, where "business programming", which is too often VB-oriented, is funded at a higher level, making it a more attractive course if you're going to teach programming. Districts and high schools are financially disincentivized from offering this course, and lesser resources are generally available.

Want to teach Microsoft Office? Here, have a brand new lab. Then have a new one three years later. Want APCS? We're sure we can scrounge up something for you. And then they wonder why no one teaches AP Computer Science. Don't get me wrong; I actually think there's a lot of value to be gained out of a properly taught Office course with proper content. But the imbalance is too great.

About 5 years ago, I was asked to go to a meeting of all of the AP teachers of the East region of Houston ISD, in order the share information and resources. (This was back when they grouped schools by geographic regions.) I really didn't want to go, but our counselor convinced me that it was important. So many if not most of the AP teachers are sitting there on gym bleachers. And we're told to meet our cohorts and talk amongst ourselves. And all of these signs go up for the different courses -- US History, Spanish, etc. And I'm sitting there at Computer Science. Then I look to my left, look to my right. And I realized that I'm the only one.

And that's what it's like to be an AP Computer Science teacher.

Comment Re:The most important lesson in life being taught (Score 4, Interesting) 663

I teach at a school that is more teacher-heavy than that. 3 to 4 teachers per core area, plus languages, technology, and other electives. Compare this to two admins, one counselor, 5 office staff (one of whom took over my technology responsibilities to give me cover), and 4 custodians / plant operators. The district's curriculum specialists were shown the door.

It used to be even more teacher-heavy for awhile, but a prior administration tried to add more non-teaching positions in order to solidify power. After that administration left, we found a ... Happy medium.

It is possible to have a teacher-driven school, but it means committing to more hats than just teaching. In my case, I handle admissions scoring and course registration, as well as other issues that would normally require additional office staff.

That's the big rub of this. There are things that have to be done to keep a campus functioning. If teachers want more power, they have to assume these responsibilities, and they have to defend them, lest the school become too office-heavy. But very often, teachers (on both a personal and union level) have often taken a position of "We aren't required to do that; go away." So that position is one of the things that has caused teachers to lose power over the years.

Comment Re:Profit & Lies (Score 1) 730

I don't expect all videos to be manually reviewed. I do expect all disputes to automated claims to be manually reviewed, within 48 hours, and resolved correctly. That didn't happen here.

Rumblefish screwed up, end-of-story. Hopefully they realize the problems with their processes and implement better ones. If so, then this might be accepted as a one-off.

Comment Re:Soon, no more call centers (Score 2) 220

Except that 1) Before And After is also a category on Jeopardy and 2) it was a category in run-throughs for Watson:

In a test tourney, Watson hit the bullseye on a question about clothing a young girl might wear on an operatic ship. The answer, pinafore, is also found in the title of the Gilbert & Sullivan opera H.M.S. Pinafore. And the computer was also successful with a before-and-after Jeopardy question about a candy bar and a Supreme Court justice, Baby Ruth Bader-Ginsberg. But earlier in its career, when asked, "What does a grasshopper eat?", it responded, "Kosher."

Source: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/storm/Jeopardy_A_Computer_Takes_on_Ken_Jennings_and_Brad_Rutter_.html

Single-Player Game Model 'Finished,' Says EA Exec 439

Frank Gibeau, label president for EA Games, recently spoke with Develop about the publisher's long term development strategy. Gibeau thinks developing major games without multiplayer modes is a passing fad: "...it’s not only about multiplayer, it’s about being connected. I firmly believe that the way the products we have are going, they need to be connected online. ... I volunteer you to speak to EA’s studio heads; they’ll tell you the same thing. They’re very comfortable moving the discussion towards how we make connected gameplay – be it co-operative or multiplayer or online services – as opposed to fire-and-forget, packaged goods only, single-player, 25-hours-and you’re out. I think that model is finished. Online is where the innovation and the action [are] at."

Plagiarism Inc. 236

Here's an interesting article on the life and times of 24-year-old Jordan Kavoosi, who has made a business of plagiarism. His Essay Writing Company employs writers from across the country, and will deliver a paper on any subject for $23 per page. In addition, his company will get it done in 48 hours, and he guarantees at least a B grade or your money back. From the article: "'Sure it's unethical, but it's just a business,' Kavoosi explains. 'I mean, what about strip clubs or porn shops? Those are unethical, and city-approved.'"

Comment Houston ISD & IE6 (Score 1) 512

A slightly related story:

I teach in Houston Independent School District. Due to a recent change, we are required to use Internet Explorer to log into our online gradebooks when on campus. There is no technological basis for this, as running a user agent switcher with Firefox causes no problems. And yes, IE 6 is an allowable agent.

Of course, when we log in from home via the HISD-provided VPN client, it doesn't matter what browser we use.

Also of course, we can use that VPN client at work, and it doesn't matter what browser we use.

So yeah, it's just been a big bag of bureaucracy.

Allow me to tell you some time about their wireless networking policy changes that start next week. That's a whole other ball of fail.

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