D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

Suggestions for Brian

Tuesday, December 19, 2006 9:25 AM

I'm sure many of you have, in between reading all the tech and geek-life rants on here, read the blog posts of Brian Scarbeau. He's the computer teacher who's been posting about his experience teaching computer science to high school students. Recently they've been looking at DNN and creating student portals. But I thought, y'know, true computer science classes should not only provide students with skills using technology, but also prepare them for the profession they're going into. So I offer Brian some suggestions...I'm sure you all can think of some others.

Suggestion 1: Pop Quiz
Tell your students on a Monday that they have a new assignment. They'll need to take a database that's horribly written (can be any database, but for fun use something really archaic like a CSV output from DB2 or something), re-create the schema in SQL 2005 Express, and transfer all the data. Then, after that, they'll need to create a web application that will allow...hmm...let's say 20 different reports. Then tell them they have until Wednesday to complete it or they're expelled.

Suggestion 2: Test for Change
Give your students a project...let's say its an application that will gather customer information from a website, store it in a database, and then have a desktop .NET application access it to perform data mining on. Should take them 5 days to complete. On the 4th day, tell them that the sponsor has changed their requirements and now they want the application to manage an image library instead, with images stored in SQL 2005 and with an AJAX enabled website that has no postbacks whatsoever. Then on Day 5, tell them this was just a practice exercise for no marks because "the user cancelled the project".

Suggestion 3: Learn to take it like a Scapegoat
Arrange to do a programming task for another teacher, one preferrably that has all the same students. It should be something fairly important...like maybe a database that will track marks. Have the students write the code for it, but give them misinformation on part of the requirements...something major though (this will simulate poor requirements gathering from the bus side)...like, I dunno, all marks are defaulted to delete themselves after a month because they're submitted monthly and you want the database to stay clean (but really it should be yearly and only after a proper submit has been approved). Deploy the solution. Wait a month. When the teacher comes in asking why all her marks for the month have been deleted, just look at the class and say "Well?!" Then insist you gave them the proper requirements and apologize to the other teacher for your students ineptitude.

Man...I should get into teaching! ;)

Seriously though Brian, thanks for posting your experiences. It's nice to see people putting their skills to use in prepping the next generation and playing a role positively influencing kids lives. Awesome stuff!



# re: Suggestions for Brian

LOL, those are great D'Arcy. Boy, I bet we could fill a book with all of those kinds of assignments...

I know I can come up with a couple dozen or a trillion just from my own personal experiences. 12/19/2006 10:51 AM | George

# re: Suggestions for Brian

<strong>Suggestion 4: Unrealistic UI</strong>

Create screenshots for a very rich UI with colours, graphics and popups (UI created not by requirements but sales people), then tell the students that the layout has to be table-less (divs' only), styles have to be done with CSS and it has to support (minimum) Firefox 1.5, IE 5.5 and Safari 1.3 (webkit 312.x). Then tell them they have two weeks to complete for a demo to the client. Oh yeah, demo does not mean alpha or beta it means complete.

<strong>Suggestion 5: Overtime</strong>

Once the students are all accounted for in class, tell the students they have to stay late and do extra school work. Then tell them they have to be in the next day for a pop quiz. After the quiz tell them they will not receive credit for the extra work and the pop quiz.

D; You and me both..... 12/19/2006 11:37 AM | Willyd

# re: Suggestions for Brian


You're very creative in your projects! However, my students really at this point in their learning couldn't do your assignments. After all, they are only high school students and very inexperienced.
I do my best to bring new technology to them like dotnetnuke and make the applications easy for some but challenging for others so all can learn.
Hopefully, some will future their education in computer science and be able to accomplish the challenges that you've listed in your blog.
Thanks for reading my blog and your suggestions.
Maybe you should consider teaching. We'll have an opening in the computer science department next school year.

Brian 12/24/2006 4:51 PM | Brian Scarbeau

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