Webdesign Fundamentals and working in a team

October 31, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This week the students continued to work on designing their webpages. There was a good-sized learning curve with Dreamweaver. They have started to research and design their pages.  A good resource is AdobeTV.  After giving the students a tour of Dreamweaver, I asked to look at these videos of ideas on how to make Dreamweaver work.

Next week they will put it together and the entire site will be available for viewing. The challenge is getting the site’s pages to all work together and be aesthetically appealing.

Along with this we discussed the idea that the Internet has many layers of abstraction in our discussion forum on Piazza. I was very pleased to see how well the students understood abstraction.  They talked about layers and the importance of each layer. Many even understood that there was binary code at the lowest level. One student’s response was good and highly applicable to what they are doing right now and so to me was the winning response. 

“There are many layers of the internet, a website for example. It has a page with many subpages. Think of the whole internet as a big website filled with all sorts of subpages. Some people use some while others use other pages. There is something for everyone.”

AdobeTV Link: http://tv.adobe.com/watch/learn-dreamweaver-cs5/simplified-site-setup-in-dreamweaver-cs5/

Internet contd…

October 23, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Using a discussion forum to pose questions and get student responses works really well. I have used Piazza past three weeks. Student responses have been insightful. More interestingly, I like the fact that the students are interacting with one another and even with students from the other class period.

The second discussion topic for the Internet unit has been posted: “The Internet has many layers of abstraction. Explain.” I am looking forward to their responses since we discussed this concept last week.

Their main project is designing a website. In each of the CS Principles class, students gathered around and decided what they wanted to have a website on. Each group of three took a section of the website and started working on its design. They will be using Dreamweaver (CS5), some html code, creating a CSS and using Photoshop to edit the images. As they worked on their designs this week, I found it interesting how much collaboration was required among the students. After much discussion, the two classes have now decided what their websites are going to be about. One is intended to be like http://www.megacritic.com, which has reviews on various topics of interest, and the other one is a knowledgebase website on popular culture.  I kept emphasizing to students that they need to work on design and layout. Banners, buttons and navigation bars are right now a higher priority than content. Once the site is up, I am going to let them host it on a third-party hosting site so that they understand the ftp process and the actual technicalities on web hosting and development.

Next week seems very promising. Every month we invite a speaker to come and talk to the students about a topic of interest. We are calling them the “GATE Speaker Series.” Last month we had a person visit us from Microsoft. This Tuesday we have an associate professor from Southern Polytechnic State University to speak to the students about the gaming courses that are taught to college students. He has promised to show some of the work that is being done right now at his college. It should be very exciting.  GATE stands for Girls Aware of Technology and Engineering. It is our girls-only technology club that was just formed this year.

Internet: Fundamental Concepts

October 14, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Last week they worked on completing their science simulations. I had shown them sample simulations from Georgia Tech. Early this week they presented it to the class. Each pair had to answer three essential questions while presenting:

  • What is the Key concept you are presenting?
  • What is the big question?
  • What is the answer?

Then the students reflected on Scratch as a programming language and they decided that they liked it, but unfortunately that was the end of Scratch for us. This week we started working on the “Internet” section of the course. The students certainly seem to be interested in it too. We are working on web browsing, cookies and search engines.

We discussed the idea that the Internet has multiple layers of abstraction and we again asked a question that we have gone over multiple times “what is abstraction?” Next week we will ask ourselves what do we mean when we say that the Internet has multiple layers of abstraction? We are using Piazza to discuss these questions along with ideas in the book Technology Matters. Right now we are focusing on the chapter “Work: More or Less? Better or Worse?” I like the fact that students are responding to each other constructively.

Sample Simulations from Georgia Tech:  http://ice-web.cc.gatech.edu/dl/?q=node/15

Steve Jobs, February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011

October 11, 2011 at 1:43 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The computer industry lost a highly regarded entrepreneur this week. The man who designed the Macintosh, iPhone, iPad and iPod and might have gone on to make even more died of pancreatic cancer last Wednesday. May his soul rest in peace. There was genuine sorrow mixed with admiration for this man. All day I ran his remarkable graduation speech to Stanford graduates.

We took a quick diversion from our usual studies into current events. The class broke up into approximately 8 groups of two or three. Each group took 7-8 years of Steve Jobs life and came up with a quick presentation. Some used power point and others used Scratch. They were given 20 minutes to design their presentation and about 3 minutes to present. At the end of the period the entire class had some exposure to Steve Jobs remarkable achievements.

Steve Job’s Speech to Stanford: http://www.ted.com/talks/steve_jobs_how_to_live_before_you_die.html

Developing and Evaluating a Game in Scratch

October 3, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Students finished their Scratch game and wrote test plans and test cases on how best to test their code. I demonstrated the goal of a test plan, showed them how to create test cases and emphasized the importance of creating a good test case.  A test case should test the logic of the program written.  It is important to be sure that the test cases do not test the environment that the program is written in (in this case Scratch).

This was a good activity. I gave each student a scratch game that they had not seen before and the test cases for said game. They had to use, test and rate the game’s quality.  This worked out very well and I was pleased at the outcome. I have learned that teenagers consider themselves an authority on gaming software. They were more than happy to tell each other how to improve their games.

I have finally picked out a book for the book study: Technology Matters – Questions to Live With. The book is a heavy read. In even just a few pages there is a lot of material that students need to be able to absorb. I have picked out the chapter “Work: More or Less, Better or Worse” for them to read next week.


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