Monday, April 30, 2018

Are You In On the Social Media Conversation around CS Education?

Today is the absolute deadline for my students in Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles to upload their Create Performance Task to the Digital Portfolio. One of my top students was having trouble getting a file to upload. When he told me that I remembered that some teachers had talked about similar problems in the Facebook AP CS Principles group. A quick look (fortunately my school does not block Facebook) and I had the solution. Apparently short filenames work best. Problem solved. Student work submitted. I’ve seen a lot of problems solved for teachers via conversations in various Facebook groups.

Besides the group for AP CS Principles teachers there is a group for AP CS A teachers, one for Computer Science Education: Researchers & Practitioners, a general Computer Science Educators group, and don’t forget the CSTA group. I’m sure there are other groups that are useful. I know that several CSTA Chapters have their own groups. Are you a member of one?

There is more than Facebook though. There are frequently interesting conversations going on with CS education blogs. Sometimes these conversations take place in the comments. Sometimes through posts in one blog that reference posts in a second. Or more. Some of  the best take place in blogs by:
I’ve seen posts in several of these that refer to posts by others either directly or indirectly. For example, a recent post by Mark Guzdial wrote Lack of funding leads to lack of teachers leads to lack of CS classes: We may need to change our strategy. Mike Zamansky made a case that time and money are not as big a problem as prioritization and will in a post called Is there room for CS for All. Garth Flint addressed some of the cost factor in a post called CS on the Cheap. Garth also referred to a book and a video that Doug Bergman blogged about. You’ll find comments on most of these posts as well.

Are you following these blogs? Maybe you want to add to the conversations either in the comments or by firing up your own blog?

csk8Don’t forget Twitter either. If you are a K-8 CS teacher you will want to follow the #csk8 chat. This week it is about Scratch.

No matter how you do it there is a lot to learn by sharing with your peers via social media. Jump on in the water is fine.

Edit: Note that my full Computer Science Education blog roll is at


Ann said...

There is an IB Computer Science Facebook group that is invaluable. Since there are fewer IB CS teachers it is SO helpful to have a place to reach out and ask questions.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Alfred for modeling how this can be done and drawing attention to the many varied pockets of (sometimes hidden) communities.

Food for thought: it's not much of a surprise that that CS teachers are forming communities online, however, is this venue where we're going to find the broader teacher community we want to engage with? (Not meant as a condemnation, just a question.)


Mike Zamansky said...

I find it interesting that as a community we're so willing to have everything in Facebook. Not talking about privacy or data mining her but rather the lack of discover-ability and search-ability and everything that's done in Facebook stays in Facebook and even more so within each group.

I much prefer the bloggosphere, public curated lists - I tried to start one ( but the community hasn't shown any real interest which is a shame because we keep seeing the same information requests and questions over and over again fragmented across the Facebook groups.

I'm also encouraged to see a few new CS Ed bloggers this year.

Alfred C Thompson II said...

I think some of the attraction of Facebook is that it is out of sight of students. There is a lot of concern about students knowing things they shouldn't know. For various views of what students should know of course. I do prefer being open which is why I blog. I do contribute in Facebook and on teacher only mailing lists as well. But open is my first choice.