alan-d (1st March 2012)
I've had a couple of calls/IM's over the past few days asking for advice about how to go about setting up secure and safe coding environments is classrooms. As this is something that many of you here are either planning for, or have already setup, I thought it would be a good time to get a dedicated thread running covering this subject.
We (almost) all know that Computer Science as a subject is to return, and with it coding. Previous threads on this subject show that, at least a couple of years back, there was a great deal of resistance to this in the classroom due to issues arising from the user permissions required and other security related matters. What we need to do, as a community is get the good practice many of you have developed out into a public arena to save the time and hassel of trying to find it out at the last minute. So what we need from you is:
- Information on what platforms (if any) you have already deployed and how you not only did it, but how you maintained the integrity of your systems.
- Requests for information on platforms that you would like to deploy but need more advice on.
- Any information on new CS courses appearing and their requirments as well as any useful external links you come accross.
This is a serious subject guys and I want to ask that you please do not derail the thread. If it gets big we can organise it better in the future, however I suspect many of you will be needing answers sooner rather than later.
alan-d (1st March 2012)
Something like Small Basic is dead easy to deploy, at least in a vanilla environment, as it has a single MSI and doesn't need admin rights to run either the IDE or the compiled output. Sadly it is not well regarded by some programming teachers as it doesn't have things like strongly typed variables. If you don't have a stick up your butt it works well for introducing programming at KS2/3.
In the past I have deployed Visual Basic Express 2007 using App-V and that worked very well. Doing the same with any of the Visual Studio 2010 Express products is significantly more complicated, but Microsoft published some steps here last August. I haven't tried it yet myself.
A lot of the problems I see teachers discussing is where there is a network policy of not allowing 'untrusted' .exe files to run from network shares (i.e. students My Documents folders), which scuppers the running of compiled output. Personally I think this is an unnecessary restriction, and in my experience is used as a sticking plaster for poor workstation security, but I'd be interested in hearing if others think there is a place for it.
Last night I was rather kindly pointed (by Turbo-FB) in the direction of a proposed curriculum drawn up by the Computing at Schools Working Group with the support of the BCS, Microsoft and Google. You can read more about Computing - A Curriculum for Schools here: Computing at School :: Computing - A Curriculum for Schools and I've attached the PDF outlining the curriculum proposals to this post, although you can download it from the site as well.
It's certainly a document you'd want to pass around staff who will be involved with the new curriculum as it gives some quite good ideas of what to expect and what needs to be addressed by September.
I've been invited to the ICT Dept meeting tomorrow afternoon to discuss with them ideas of things they could implement into the IT curriculum following Mr Gove's statement a few weeks ago.
The current ideas I to get the kids more invovled with making websites (actually looking at the code) - I went into one classroom last year to help work out and issue with some html for the kid to not even know it was written in code!). Along with making some mobile apps for various things. I also would like them to look at more problem solving with the kids - although not overly technical we in IT spent a lot of time doing it in our roles.
Any other feedback and ideas greatly appreciated.
Physical computing, basic robotics stuff putting computers in a more physical realm. An idea of how ingrained computers are in everything and an understanding of that. I think a more wholistic view of computers would make the topic more realivant and more valuable.
Thanks! Will add it to my list - We do robotics through the D & T department which they use Pic's to program them.
Brings up an interesting question though, are we as techs and NM's going to be pulled more into the teaching side? I see the possibility where we start being used more and more to support classes if they get more technical or help the IT teachers to plan and set up their lessons, which I have no issue with if it gets it moving along but where do we draw the line and say this is in addition to our job and will we get something for it? Or am i being overly cynical?
Our kids love Scratch. What has worked well is getting the more able ones helping the ones who are struggling.
One of the other ideas we have looked at is rolling out the Android Emulator for making mobile Apps with students.
A couple of options for you here ... things related to coding seem the obvious choice but there may be a chance to link things with other departments too.
How about working with English on technical writing / documentation?
How about working with Geography on data mining / analysis (population growth, meteorology, etc) so how about setting up a small linux data farm?
How about working with Biology / Chemistry on impact on the medical profession (STEM Ambassadors are brilliant to help with this) to look at developing and designing automated processes (bringing in coding, systems and control, CAD, etc)
Computing At Schools have a number of ideas on this so it might be worth seeing if the department are aware of the group and have checked out their resources.
We've had our pupils re-building pc's for the last couple of years, I basically break down some of our old but still working pc's and get the pupils to rebuild them piece by piece. We'd previously had them dismantling pc's but many would see it more as a chance to destroy them.
We're also looking at using Kodu and MinecraftEDU to some extent, Kodu seems to be good for problem solving.
We already have a thread running here: Coding in the classroom. What to do and where to start.
Can we try and keep everything in the same place please so information does not get scattered around. I'll merge the threads now.
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