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Call for Papers for 2nd Blocks and Beyond Workshop

ComputingEd - Fri, 06/23/2017 - 07:00
Call for Participation

Blocks and Beyond 2:
2nd Workshop on Lessons and Directions for
First Programming Environments

http://cs.wellesley.edu/blocks–and–beyond

October 9-10, 2017, Raleigh, NC, USA

A satellite workshop of the 2017 IEEE Symposium
on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing (VL/HCC)

https://sites.google.com/site/vlhcc2017/

Call for Participation

Scope and Goals

Blocks programming environments represent program syntax trees as compositions of visual blocks. They are an increasingly popular way to introduce programming and computational thinking; tens of millions of people have used tools like Scratch, Blockly, App Inventor, Snap!, Pencil Code, Alice/Looking Glass, AgentSheets/AgentCubes, and Code.org’s curricula. But blocks programming is not just for beginners; environments like GP and domain-specific blocks languages are targeted at hobbyists, scientists. and other casual programmers.

Capitalizing on the energy and enthusiasm from the 1st Blocks and Beyond Workshop in Atlanta in 2015, this workshop aims to continue studying the usability, effectiveness, and generalizability of affordances of these environments and their associated pedagogies. The workshop will bring together educators and researchers with experience in blocks languages, as well as members of the broader VL/HCC community who wish to examine this area more deeply. We seek participants with diverse expertise, including, but not limited to: design of programming environments, instruction with these environments, the learning sciences, data analytics, usability, and more.

The workshop will be a generative discussion that sets the stage for future work and collaboration. It will include participant presentations and demonstrations that frame the discussion, followed by reflection on the state of the field and smaller working-group discussion and brainstorming sessions.

Suggested Topics for Discussion

·  Who uses blocks programming environments and why?

·  Which features of blocks environments help or hinder users? How do we know? Which of these features are worth incorporating into more traditional IDEs? What helpful features are missing?

·  How can blocks environments and associated curricular materials be made more accessible to everyone, especially those with disabilities?

·  Can blocks programming appeal to a wider range of interests (e.g., by allowing connections to different types of devices, web services, data sources, etc.)?

·  What are the best ways to introduce programming to novices and to support their progression towards mastery? Do these approaches differ for for learners of computing basics and for makers?

·  What are the conceptual and practical hurdles encountered by novice users of blocks languages when they face the transition to text languages and traditional programming communities? What can be done to reduce these hurdles?

·  How can we best harness online communities to support growth through teaching, motivating, andproviding inspiration and feedback?

·  What roles should collaboration play in blocks programming? How can environments support that collaboration?

·  In these environments, what data can be collected, and how can that data be analyzed to determine answers to questions like those above? How can we use data to answer larger scale questions about early experiences with programming?

·  What are the lessons learned (both positive and negative) from creating first programming environments that can be shared with future environment designers?

Submission

We invite two kinds of submissions:

1.       A 1 to 4 page position statement describing an idea or research question related to the design, teaching, or study of blocks programming environments.

2.       A paper (up to 8 pages) describing previously unpublished results involving the design, study, or pedagogy of blocks programming environments.

All submissions must be made as PDF files to the Easy Chair Blocks and Beyond workshop submission site.

As with the Proceedings of the 1st Blocks and Beyond Workshop, we plan to publish the proceedings of the 2nd Workshop with the IEEE. Please use an IEEE Conference template to format your submission.

Important Dates

·  19 Jul 2017: Submissions due (due by end of day, anytime on Earth)

·  16 Aug 2017: Author notification

·  30 Aug 2017: Camera ready copies due

·  9-10 Oct 2017: Workshop in Raleigh


Tagged: blocks-based languages, computing education, computing education research

NSF-funded ACM Turing Awardees: A Look at 50 Years of Computing's Greatest Visionaries

News From NSF - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 16:06

This year marks 50 years of the ACM A.M. Turing Award, the highest distinction in computer science, often regarded as the "Nobel Prize of Computing." Since 1966, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) has recognized on an annual basis individuals who have contributed lasting and major technical accomplishments to computing.

The name of the award recognizes Alan M. Turing, who is often credited as a key founder of the field of artificial intelligence. More than half of the 65 ...
More at https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=242286&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click


This is an NSF News item.

NSF offers opportunity for media to deploy to Greenland

News From NSF - Wed, 06/21/2017 - 13:00

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is accepting proposals from media professionals to visit Greenland and report on scientific research in the Arctic supported by NSF's Office of Polar Programs.

Competitive proposals must include the following:

• A documented ability to reach the widest possible U.S. audience across a variety of platforms (broadcast, print, web and social media).

• A solid field plan that indicates how the outlet will clearly and ...
More at https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=242312&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click


This is an NSF News item.

Dawn Tilbury begins appointment to head NSF Engineering Directorate

News From NSF - Mon, 06/19/2017 - 10:00

Today, Dawn Tilbury begins her appointment to lead the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Directorate for Engineering (ENG), which supports engineering research and education critical to the nation's future and fosters innovations that benefit society.

Tilbury comes to NSF from the University of Michigan (U-M), where she is a professor of mechanical engineering and served as associate dean for research in the College of ...
More at https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=242221&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click


This is an NSF News item.

We need to separate Computing for All from Software Development: Claims that coding is not “fun,” it’s technically and ethically complex

ComputingEd - Mon, 06/19/2017 - 07:00

The problem with the article linked below is that Code.org and the author mean two different things by the word “programming.”  Programming can be fun, insightful, sloppy, small, and still useful without demanding “superhuman focus” and “manic attention to detail.”  This is an issue I’ve talked about with respect to the thick line between programmer and user where most people will be in the future. I’m teaching an ethics course this summer — building software for others is technically and ethically complex, as the author states.  But building software as an end-user, as a hobbyist, as a scientist or engineer exploring an idea?  We need a different word.

Programming computers is a piece of cake. Or so the world’s digital-skills gurus would have us believe. From the non-profit Code.org’s promise that “Anybody can learn!” to Apple chief executive Tim Cook’s comment that writing code is “fun and interactive,” the art and science of making software is now as accessible as the alphabet.

Unfortunately, this rosy portrait bears no relation to reality. For starters, the profile of a programmer’s mind is pretty uncommon. As well as being highly analytical and creative, software developers need almost superhuman focus to manage the complexity of their tasks. Manic attention to detail is a must; slovenliness is verboten. Attaining this level of concentration requires a state of mind called being “in the flow,” a quasi-symbiotic relationship between human and machine that improves performance and motivation.

Source: Coding is not “fun,” it’s technically and ethically complex — Quartz


Tagged: #CS4All, computing for all, CS for all

Researchers gauge impact of "Maker" job opportunities for underserved teens

News From NSF - Mon, 06/19/2017 - 00:00

3-D print shop helps answer crucial questions about engaging youth in STEM through after-school jobs
Full story at https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/science_nation/makerjobs.jsp?WT.mc_id=USNSF_51


This is an NSF News item.

Emerging biotech with potential to improve US health care on display at 2017 International BIO Convention

News From NSF - Fri, 06/16/2017 - 16:14

Small businesses and startups funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) will display emerging biotechnology at the 2017 BIO International Convention Innovation Zone June 19-22 in San Diego.

More than 20 NSF-funded projects will exhibit in a space dedicated to early stage companies with new biomedical technologies and products, including ...
More at
https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=242246&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click


This is an NSF News item.

Third NSF Community College Innovation Challenge rewards top entries

News From NSF - Fri, 06/16/2017 - 13:15

Teams from Texas and Colorado received first and second place awards, respectively, in the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Community College Innovation Challenge (CCIC).

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) co-sponsors the annual event, which fosters students' interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers by asking them to offer creative solutions to real-world ...
More at https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=242260&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click


This is an NSF News item.

Registration open for New Computing Faculty Workshops in Summer 2017

ComputingEd - Fri, 06/16/2017 - 01:00

Beth, Cynthia, Leo, and I are running our workshop for new CS faculty again this summer.  Registration is open. Please do pass on word!

The third New Computing Faculty Workshop will be held August 6-8, 2017 in San Diego. The goal of the workshop is to help computing faculty at research intensive universities to be better and more efficient teachers.  By learning a little about teaching, we will help new faculty (a) make their teaching more efficient and effective (e.g., students learn more with less input time from faculty) and (b) make their teaching more enjoyable. The workshops were described in Communications of the ACM in the May 2017 issue (see article here). The workshop will be run by Beth Simon (UCSD), Cynthia Bailey Lee (Stanford), Leo Porter (UCSD), and Mark Guzdial (Georgia Tech).

Source: New Computing Faculty Workshops in Summer 2017 – CRA


Tagged: computer science teachers, computing education, teachers

Crystals once deep inside a volcano offer new view of magma, eruption timing

News From NSF - Thu, 06/15/2017 - 14:00

Find related stories on NSF's geosciences risk and resilience interest area.

Volcanologists are gaining a better understanding of what's going on inside the magma reservoir that lies below New Zealand's Mount Tarawera volcano. They're finding a colder, more solid place than they thought, according to research published today in the journal Science.

It's a new view of how ...
More at https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=242162&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click


This is an NSF News item.

Slow earthquakes in ocean subduction zones shed light on tsunami risk

News From NSF - Thu, 06/15/2017 - 14:00

Find related stories on NSF's geosciences risk and resilience interest area.

Understanding "slow-slip" earthquakes on the seafloor -- seismic events that occur over a period of days or weeks -- is giving researchers new insights into undersea earthquakes and the subsequent creation of tsunamis. Through an ocean discovery program supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), ...
More at https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=242184&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click


This is an NSF News item.

Division of Chemistry Newsletter, Spring 2017

News From NSF - Thu, 06/15/2017 - 13:39

Available Formats:
PDF: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2017/nsf17089/nsf17089.pdf?WT.mc_id=USNSF_179

Document Number: nsf17089


This is an NSF Publications item.

Using tablets to broaden access to computing education: Elliot Soloway and truly making CS for All

ComputingEd - Wed, 06/14/2017 - 07:00

I recently had the opportunity to visit with my PhD advisor, Elliot Soloway. Elliot has dramatically changed the direction of his research since we worked together. And he’s still very persuasive, because now I keep thinking about his challenge to push educational technology onto the least expensive devices.

When I worked with Elliot in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, we emphasized having lots of screen real estate. Though the little Macintosh Plus was still popular through much of that time, Elliot was hooking up 21-inch, two page displays for all our development and at the high schools where we worked. The theoretical argument was the value of multiple-linked representations (like in this paper from Bob Kozma). By giving students multiple representations of their program and their design, we would facilitate learning across and between representations. The goal was to get students to see programming as design.

But in the mid 1990’s, Elliot changed his direction to emphasize inexpensive, handheld devices. I remember asking him why at the time, and he pointed out that you could give 10 students access to these low-cost devices for one of the higher-end devices. And access trumps screens.

Now, Elliot has a company, Intergalactic Mobile Learning Center, that produces software for learning that runs on amazingly inexpensive computers. Go to http://www.imlc.io/apps and try out their all-HTML software on any of your devices.

I purchased an Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet last year as a media consumption device (reading, videos, and music). For less than $100, it’s an amazingly useful device that I carry everywhere since it’s light and mostly plastic. Here’s some of IMLC’s software running on my inexpensive tablet.

Teaching Computer Science on a Tablet

I have been arguing in this blog that we need a greater diversity of teaching methods in computer science, to achieve greater diversity and to teach students (and reach students) who fail with our existing methods. Elliot’s argument for inexpensive tablets has me thinking about the value for computing education.

If our only CS teaching method is “write another program,” then a tablet makes no sense. Typing on a tablet is more difficult than on a laptop or desktop computer. I have been arguing that we can actually teach a lot about coding without asking students to program. If we expand our teaching methods to those that go beyond simply writing programs, then a tablet makes a lot of sense.

Could a focus on using tablets to teach computer science drive us to develop new methods? If more CS teachers tried to use tablets, might that lead to greater adoption of a diverse range of CS teaching methods?

Elliot’s argument is about bridging the economic and digital divide. Can we use the low cost of tablets to break down economic barriers to learning computer science? Computing education via tablets may be key to the vision of CS for All. We can outfit a whole classroom with tablets much more cheaply than buying even mid-range laptops for an elementary or middle school classroom.  There are people suggesting that if we buy kids iPads, we’ll improve learning (e.g., Los Angeles schools).  I’m making the inverse argument.  If we as computing curriculum/technology developers and teachers figure out how to teach computing well with tablets, we’ll improve learning for everyone.

I started checking out what I could do with my less than $100 tablet. I was amazed! Moore’s Law means that the low-end today is surprisingly capable.

GP, the new blocks-based programming language that I’ve been working with (see posts here and here), runs really well on my Fire HD 8 tablet. In fact, it runs better (more functionality, more reliable, greater stability) in the browser of my Fire tablet than the browser-based GP does on my iPad Pro (which costs about a magnitude more).  (There is an iOS version of GP which is fast and stable, but doesn’t have all the features of the browser-based version.)

GP running on a Fire HD 8 Tablet — two Media Computation projects (mirroring on left, removing red eye on right)

Our ebooks run well on the Fire HD 8 tablet. I can program Python in our ebook using the tablet. Our approach in the ebooks emphasizes modification to existing programs, not just coding from scratch. Tweaking text works fine on the tablet.

Running Python code on the Fire HD 8 Tablet

A wide range of CS education practice activities, from multiple choice questions to Parsons Problems, work well on the Fire HD 8.

Parsons Problem on Fire HD 8 Tablet

I tried out WeScheme on my Fire HD 8, too.

I bought the cheapest Chromebook I could find for this trip. I wanted a laptop alternative to take to China and for commuting on the Barcelona subway, rather than my heavier and more expensive MacBook Air. All of these browser-based tools (GP, Python programming in the ebook, Parsons Problems) run great on my $170 Acer Chromebook, plus I get a keyboard. Even a Chromebook would require different teaching and learning methods than what we use in many CS courses. I’m not going to run Eclipse or even JES on a Chromebook. (Though Emacs has been ported to the Chromebook, it only runs on certain Chromebooks and not mine). Google is aiming to merge Chromebook and Android development so that apps run on both. I don’t really understand all the differences between tablets and Chromebooks, but I do know that Chromebooks are becoming more common in schools.

A Chromebook costs about twice what a low-end tablet costs. While that is still much less than most laptops, twice is a big markup for a poor student or a budget-strapped school. It’s worth pushing for the lowest end.

CS education researchers, developers, and teachers should explore teaching computing with tablets. Some are doing this already. The next version of Scratch will run on mobile phones, and the current version will already run on some phones and tablets. Creating CS learning opportunities on low-end tablets will make computing education more affordable and thus accessible to a broader range of potential CS students.  My proposal isn’t about offering the poor a cheaper, low-quality alternative. Tablets force us to expand and diversify our teaching methods, which will lead us to create better and more accessible computing education for all.


Tagged: #CS4All, BPC, computing education, CS for all, CS for everyone, economics, tablet

Solar Eclipse 2017 Media Event

News From NSF - Tue, 06/13/2017 - 15:10

NSF will join several federal agencies and science organizations June 21 for two back-to-back briefings organized by NASA to provide important solar eclipse viewing safety, travel and science information.

For the first time in 99 years, a total solar eclipse will cross the nation Aug. 21. During the eclipse, the National Science Foundation (NSF) is funding research to learn more about the sun and space weather, including a citizen science project that will capture data about the sun ...
More at https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=242217&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click


This is an NSF News item.

National Science Foundation brings 'awesome' science to Awesome Con

News From NSF - Tue, 06/13/2017 - 13:41

Stand back Wonder Woman, Doctor Who and Bruce Wayne. The National Science Foundation (NSF) is bringing some of its own superheroes to Awesome Con D.C. 2017. Hands-on demos of NSF-funded science and talks about the science behind superheroes and superhuman science are sure to be as dazzling as some participants' costumes. NSF Director France Córdova will also participate in a roundtable discussion on women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics ...
More at https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=242216&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click


This is an NSF News item.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for NSF 17-558, Towards a Leadership-Class Computing Facility - Phase 1

News From NSF - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 16:33

Available Formats:
HTML: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2017/nsf17100/nsf17100.jsp?WT.mc_id=USNSF_25&WT.mc_ev=click
PDF: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2017/nsf17100/nsf17100.pdf?WT.mc_id=USNSF_25&WT.mc_ev=click

Document Number: nsf17100
Public Comment: These Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) reference Program Solicitation NSF 17-558.


This is an NSF Program Announcements and Information item.

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