· Education

Teaching Glass · Teach­ing, as in I have a Visiting-Professor gig this sum­mer at the Cen­tre for Dig­i­tal Me­dia. Glass as in Google Glass; I’m ad­vis­ing a group try­ing to drive an in­ter­ac­tive doc­u­men­tary (some­one said “walkumentary”) with wear­able tech. There are six grad stu­dents with ex­per­tise in pro­gram­ming, an­i­ma­tion, pho­tog­ra­phy, film, and au­dio, and they’ve got four­teen weeks to see what they can make. Should be fun ...
Teachable Moments · My son, who’s just start­ed “Computer Labs” at school, came home all ea­ger to tell us about this “Google” thing on the In­ter­net. So far, we haven’t par­tic­u­lar­ly en­cour­aged com­put­er use at home. We got in­to an in­ter­est­ing fam­i­ly talk which was re­port­ed back to the teacher, then Lau­ren and I found our­selves in­vit­ed to come in and teach the In­ter­net to the class. So we set up scratch blog­ging space; this end­ed up be­ing in­struc­tive both for them and us ...
The Web Curriculum · I pro­pose that the World Wide Web would serve well as a frame­work for struc­tur­ing much of the aca­dem­ic Com­put­er Science cur­ricu­lum. A study of the the­o­ry and prac­tice of the Web’s tech­nolo­gies would tra­verse many key ar­eas of our dis­ci­pline. Fur­ther­more, there is a nat­u­ral way to struc­ture such a traver­sal to sup­port a course of study stretch­ing over many semester­s ...
The School Concert · Our son is at­tend­ing Grade Four in a spe­cial­ized pro­gram that in­cludes a com­pul­so­ry String In­stru­ments class, thus he’s been strug­gling to mas­ter a screechy lit­tle vi­o­lin since Septem­ber. It’s a pub­lic school; by some bud­getary jiggery-pokery they man­age to re­tain the ser­vices of a nearly-full-time Strings teacher. Last Thurs­day night was the Christ­mas Con­cert fea­tur­ing the fourth and fifth grader­s, and we had no idea what to ex­pec­t ...
How They Learn · It’s amaz­ing, con­trary to all the clichés, how slow­ly lit­tle kids learn. My lit­tle guy, now in first grade, has been learn­ing to read for a year now and still strug­gles with some obvious-seeming word­s; oh, those English vow­el­s. But slow is OK, be­cause time is what he has, no end of it; and when you’re my age that time rush­es by, fast and un­ceas­ing like a spring flood. This evening, read­ing the first chap­ters of the first Har­ry Pot­ter at bed­time, he seemed to want a turn so I point­ed him at a para­graph and he hur­ried through it, the tale’s ur­gen­cy car­ry­ing him over words he couldn’t make out. I re­mem­ber be­ing the same age do­ing the same thing, won­der­ing what some word mean­t, but not enough to stop, or even slow down much.
Co-eds · This week I paid a vis­it to the Univer­si­ty of Guelph, from which I grad­u­at­ed over twen­ty years ago. They’re fine peo­ple and it’s a fine school, and I’ll have more to say about that, but I learned some some shock­ing num­ber­s. First, of Guelph’s 18,000-or-so stu­dents, around 70% are fe­male. At the Ve­teri­nary Col­lege, it’s around 90%. And in this year’s grad­u­at­ing class of 50 Com­put­er Science stu­dents, 4 are fe­male. The vi­su­al ef­fect is not sub­tle: ev­ery­where you look there are swarms of bright, healthy, eager-looking young wom­en. And in the CS build­ing, the usu­al geek­boys. Guelph’s pop­u­la­tion, they tell me, is not un­typ­i­cal for mod­ern uni­ver­si­ties. What does this mean, a cou­ple of decades from now?
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