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Comment From somebody who teaches this exact thing... (Score 1) 648

I teach Computer Science/programmin to 11-18-year-olds in the UK. It's very easy for any professional or academic to say that everyone should learn C, python, or whatever else. The questions those people should ask themselves is have you actually had to teach those things at that level, and are you aware of all the constraints that the average school pupil, teacher, or network has? I inherited my first class (16-17 year-olds) who had been learning VB6 for a year and had to stuck with it, I moved the next year group to VB.NET and it worked well. VB.NET, if taught correctly can teach the logic, syntax, and programming concepts needed to start a new project in a new language. Importantly, the majority of pupils from 13+ are able to understand the meaning behind virtually all the code they are writing. I could not say the same thing about teaching C. The post from the teacher in question is clear: we are not teaching a specific language, whatever that may be, we are teaching the concepts of programming, from procedures, and conditions to data structures and object orientation, in order to solve problems. It's like arguing that teaching pupils the recorder is stupid because they should all learn the cello; if they learn to read and compose music, they can pick up whatever they really want to do later.

Comment Re:This is horrid (Score 2) 253

There's nothing wrong with using automated marking where it's actually saving time, as long as the results are used to further learning. The simple idea (employed by the Khan academy and others) is to get students/pupils to practise at home, a system tracks what they can do and what they struggle with, and the teacher-pupil/student-professor contact time is used to address any issues. Grading simple, repetitive tasks is a waste of time if it can be automated; it's the feedback that matters. I assume that this paper marking thing is able to generate reasons for the grades it gives, and some of that is probably also a little useful.

Comment Re:It shouldn't be mandatory (Score 2) 273

I'm a high-school ICT/Computing teaching in the UK (and have been directly involved with some of the discussion with the Royal Society, Prof. Steve Furber and others) and I've been teaching programming and some CS along side ICT for years now. Even the lowest ability kids can program and enjoy doing it. Nobody's asking 11 year olds to write C++, at that level it's Scratch, Alice and other visual languages that provide quick rewards for the use of a little logic. Every single one of they enjoys learning how to make games. SOme for the result, some for the challenge, but there's not a single one I can think of that resents it. Programming starts to get harder when kids have to write more code (flash/actionscript is a decent next step here) or actually do all the work themselves (VB, Python, C# etc.), and some won't get it, but everyone should have the opportunity to see what's possible The point of this move IS that everyone should be given a taster of what's possible; nobody's mind is going to be expanded by making PowerPoints, but some of the kids I introduced programming to seven years ago are now off to study CS at Oxford and Cambridge, hopefully to be the next generation of innovators. Equally, the jobs market is going to keep shifting in its requirement for technical experience: more advanced software, robotics, etc. means unskilled jobs disappear, and highly-skilled tech jobs replace them.

Comment Bad data (Score 1) 349

I'm not sure of the definition of doing 'badly' here when the average unemployment rate was 3.8% and the CS unemployment rate was 5.1%. Is just over one percent more graduates not having a job 'performing badly?'

If you actually check the data that the article references, you'll also find that the figures included a very broad range of CS degrees, including any joint degree that includes CS. Also from the article:

It’s not all bad news, 81.5% of computer science graduates were in full time employment four years on from their degree, compared to just 73.2% of all graduates. For maths graduates the figure is 73.1% and for physical science graduates it is just 66.0% – though a whopping 19.8% of them are in full-time education.

As somebody who's currently teaming Computing/Computer Science in the UK to 11-18 year-olds this type of scaremongering is not helpful.

Comment What they need to do... (Score 1) 475

...is build several, maybe up to one hundred closed structures (to protect the inhabitants from the harsh outdoor climate) and have small communities of around one hundred people in each one, with one individual (some sort of overseer) the whole area. They could test different social situations for each of the groups in large experiments, which go on for several years before the door to the community is opened. Kind of like a 'vault' for people...

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."

Comment Half a million new jobs? (Score 1) 350

Maybe it's because I'm ill, but I can't see how fewer people pirating software create half a million jobs... If 10% of the people who pirated photoshop bought it instead, Abobe would create loads more jobs, not just earn more profit? Some people who aren't producing software because they're scard of piracy would decide it's OK to make it? The CD printing factory and goods delivery industries will see a large boom? As people are spending more money on software they decide they will order their own bespoke software instead of buying off-the-shelf packages? It's not immediately obvious to me how this would create jobs within the software industry, maybe in tech support and other areas.

Comment From my experience as a student and a teacher... (Score 1) 694

The CS assignments I was given in University were never 'very' simple. The first assignment in JAVA was to simulate an x team football league, each team playing every other twice and randomly determining match scores, printing match results and final league table. The C and VB assignments were of similar complexity. It's very implausible that two people could write very similar programs, in face, exponentially more unlikely with each additional line of code. In relation to collaboration as cheating, as a teacher teaching CS at A-level (16-18 year-olds), I would absolutely love to do a big real collaborative project: break the students down into teams, assign roles, distribute modules, whatever, but it's not a good idea for several reasons: 1. Assigning roles. How do you divide responsibility equally to be fair, motivate the weak and strong students, and ensure that a project will actually produce some results? 2. Marking: how do you really know who did what? Has a weak student just rode on the backs of others? They might cover for him, they might not. There's no way to tell, and examiners don't like that. 3. Different ability and demotivation: if you're working with someone who can't write code and is destined to fail, how would you feel about your project? Yes your audio module might be perfect, but if you had nothing functional to plug it into you'd still be unhappy. There's more of course, but the idea of teaching students how to program (and at the same time how to manage a project) almost forces them to work individually. The best I can do is teach them how to write efficient, maintainable code and hope that they end up working with others who can do the same.

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