Ramblings of this guy you know!

Tech Stuff and random observations on life as I see it….

Tag Archives: Computer science

Computer Science in Schools – The worsening take-up of the subject by girls.

Despite the upbeat feeling towards the positive steps being taken in improving ICT in Schools recently we are still facing problems currently with the effectiveness of the teaching and especially with girls as reported by the Guardian who led off with the headline : ‘Geek’ perception of computer science putting off girls, expert warns – Dumbing down of computing to IT literacy and lack of initiatives to inspire girls to take up the subject, worsening the shortage.

I posted out this tweet:

OK, I didn’t get many replies to them but I did get confirmation from some followers what the guardina said that essentially their girls were put off of Computer science because it seemed to them that it was leading them down a secretarial vocation  as opposed to a technical one.

What I do know is that we don’t want to repeat Lego’s recent folly of releasing Lego for Girls. Like Lego, Computer Science already is for girls; Nothing needs to change other than the perception that it’s just for boys. Now how do we get that message out to Schools?

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Raspberry Pi – A good idea, but does it come too late?

Back in May! The BBC reported on it and their technology programme Click! Followed up on it in June. It was suggested that the RaspberryPi, a £15 computer on a stick could provide the same home computing revolution that was kick started off in the eighties with the BBC Micro, Sinclair Spectrum, Commodore 64 and other similar machines. I posted an article a short while later when the Alpha production schedule was announced.

Now if we fast forward to more recently we are once again hearing about it again: In December 2011 there was an announcement that the first batch of devices were nearly ready for release. Now in January 2012 several early test devices have been auctioned on EBay for £3,000 so there is interest in them.

However, I cannot help but think that this very good idea may have come along too late. I can see the use of them in Schools during the day but as I see it the main problem that I see is the reliance on external devices outside the school environment. As I write this, I am sitting with my iPad in front of the TV which is on. In other words I can both watch TV and do work at the same time. With the advent of ideas like CodeAcademy, a safe programming environment is presented to a student on the device in front of them and there is no need to plug into anything. I personally think that this is a better way forward even if the RapBerryPi is a very portable device.

Stanford and Berkley free online courses running for another session.

Back in Autumn 2011, Stanford university announced that it was going to provide some of its course material online for free (Read my original post here). Evidently this was successful because they are doing it again in January/February 2012.

Relevant Computer Science and Entrepreneurship courses running are:

Lean LaunchpadTechnology Entrepreneurship

CS 101Machine LearningSoftware as a Service

Human-Computer InteractionNatural Language Processing

Game Theory, Probabilistic Graphical ModelsCryptography

Design and Analysis of Algorithms IComputer Security

As previously, the courses are going to be primarily video based. There is no direct access to the tutor but there is a Q&A forum in which students rank questions and answers with the top ranked of those followed up with during a lecture. All student work is assessed using an online evaluation tool that will evaluate the progress of the student during the students time on the module. Quizzes and exams will also be administered electronically.

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