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  1. 6 Ideas for teaching the Computing curriculum
  2. The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The Book
  3. More testimonials about my Assessing Computing course
  4. Computational thinking and spreadsheets
  5. A Self-publishing journey
  6. More Recent Articles
  7. Search ICT and Computing in Education
  8. Prior Mailing Archive

6 Ideas for teaching the Computing curriculum

I thought these posts from the archives might be interesting: 6 ideas for teaching the Computing curriculum. Unfortunately, being mathematically challenged, I originally inadvertently designated two of them as “#2”. That’s why I never became a maths teacher. However, I have since renumbered them, so they start at zero, which is, computationally speaking, a pretty good thing to do. Anyway, although the series refers to the “forthcoming Computing curriculum”, the ideas themselves are still useful I believe. I hope you agree.

"Aspirations in Computing Students", by UNH Manchester https://www.flickr.com/photos/unhm/

Ideas for the computing curriculum: #0 What box?

Preparing for the new Computing curriculum: what if #1

Preparing for the new Computing curriculum: what if #2

Preparing for the new Computing curriculum: what if #3

Preparing for the new Computing curriculum: what if #4

Preparing for the new Computing curriculum: What if #5


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The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The Book

If, like me, you enjoy reading comics and graphic novels, and are interested in Computing, you may already be familiar with the blog called 2D Goggles Or The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage. This relates the story of the development of the Difference Engine and other aspects of the lives of Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage. Their adventures are based on (mostly) real events and episodes, with a lot of poetic licence thrown in! I thoroughly recommend reading the adventures, and I suggest encouraging your students to do so too. It will help them learn about the development of computing and computer programming in an enjoyable way.

A screenshot of two of the panels on the 2D Goggles website

I was delighted to learn yesterday that the long-awaited book is due to be published next month. The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua is available for pre-order on Amazon (see link below).

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage

Screenshot of the American version of the book's cover

Here’s what the blurb says:

Meet two of Victorian London's greatest geniuses... Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron: mathematician, gambler, and proto-programmer, whose writings contained the first ever appearance of general computing theory, a hundred years before an actual computer was built. And Charles Babbage, eccentric inventor of the Difference Engine, an enormous clockwork calculating machine that would have been the first computer, if he had ever finished it.

But what if things had been different? The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage presents a delightful alternate reality in which Lovelace and Babbage do build the Difference Engine and use it to create runaway economic models, battle the scourge of spelling errors, explore the wider realms of mathematics and, of course, fight crime - for the sake of both London and science. Extremely funny and utterly unusual, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage comes complete with historical curiosities, extensive footnotes and never-before-seen diagrams of Babbage's mechanical, steam-powered computer. And ray guns.

(Read more at http://www.penguin.co.uk/books/the-thrilling-adventures-of-lovelace-and-babbage/9780141981512/#xtxSUU4CRD2xc4bh.99)

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

It’s published by Particular Books, an imprint of Penguin, on 21st April 2015.


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Your newsletter editor is hard at work sifting through the submissions for Digital Education, the free newsletter for education professionals. Have you subscribed yet?

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More testimonials about my Assessing Computing course

I don’t usually like to blow my own trumpet/toot my own horn, but I thought these comments were so nice that I’d share them. I’m one of those people who, if I see a delegate looking a bit fed up, I start to wonder if they are going to storm out and demand their money back or something. I mean, it could be that they are worried about their gas bill, or that that is just their normal expression, but I start to worry anyway. So nice comments are always a bonus. Me looking worried about someone looking worriedLook at this one, for example:

Handsome, debonair and erudite, the presenter dazzled us with his brilliance and –

Oh, wait a minute. That’s my own self-evaluation. Now where did I put those… Ah, here they are!

Good. More focus on the aspects of assessment criteria.

Excellent knowledge & examples to think about take in the school

Excellent.

Information/Questions where spot on, lots to think about.

Excellent course leader - engaging - interesting.

V.good

Very interesting - lots of ideas to look into back at school.

Superb subject knowledge.

Some very useful ideas.

Sharing useful approaches to assessment.

Humorous. Good experience and knowledge.

I will now copy/paste these lovely comments into the Testimonials section of my website, spend a few minutes looking and feeling smug, and then get back to work – the work in question being to complete the issue of the Digital Education newsletter that’s already nearly two weeks overdue. Oh well.


Paperless office?

Your newsletter editor is hard at work sifting through the submissions for Digital Education, the free newsletter for education professionals. Have you subscribed yet?

Read more about it, and subscribe, on the Newsletter page of the ICT in Education website.

We use a double opt-in system, and you won’t get spammed.


    


Computational thinking and spreadsheets

This article was originally published in 2013. I believe it has stood the test of time.

One way you can “get into” computational thinking is through spreadsheets. Taking a practical view of what “computational thinking” means (see What is Computational Thinking?), I’d say that spreadsheets definitely fit the bill. In order to try to solve a problem using a spreadsheet, which is a tool for modelling or simulation, you have to do the following things:

Data Model Template, by Ivan Walsh http://www.flickr.com/photos/ivanwalsh/

  • Work out what it is you are trying to find out
  • Frame the problem in terms a computer (spreadsheet) will understand
  • Work out what the influential changeable elements are (ie the variables)
  • Decide what operation/s is/are required, ie what algorithm is/are needed
  • Design the spreadsheet
  • Construct it, automating as much of it as possible, especially the error-checking
  • Test it
  • Decide on the best (eg most efficient) solution

As a bonus, if you use Excel then you will automatically have the built-in programming language, Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). In a forthcoming post I will relate what the benefits of VBA are. In another post or two I will give examples of spreadsheets I’ve created that exemplify computational thinking.

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A Self-publishing journey

Starting tomorrow, a new series of occasional posts about my research into self-publishing.

The first two articles are:

A self-publishing journey: what IS self-publishing? (Published Monday 16th March, 08:00, London time)

A Self-publishing journey: Why self-publishing? (Published Wednesday 18th March, 08:00, London time)


I know it’s a bit risky to announce this, in case nothing comes of it (eg I might get run over by a bus), but I'm hoping to write and self-publish a few books. If you'd like to be kept informed of new titles, please sign up to Terry's Books Bulletin by clicking the button below. Thank you.

(If you already subscribe to Digital Education, which is designed for people who work in education, all you have to do is click on the text in the footer of a recent newsletter, the bit that says “Change email address etc”, and you’ll be presented with a form on which you can select the Books Bulletin.)

    


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