CS curriculum again and forever

I am trying to figure out what I am going to teach next year.  Every year about this time I sits and thinks. There are some limitations.  My knowledge level, my interest level, the student’s interest, assets available (quality of computers, course materials, $$, etc.), and a biggie, what is eligible for dual-credit.  There are several other factors in there but at the moment the headache is the dual-credit thing. The University of Montana CS department is going through the throes of modernization.  After about 40 or 50 years they figured it was about time. Some of the old farts retired which opened things up to new blood.

This year I offered three dual-credit courses in CS:

  1. CSCI 100 – Intro to Programming, a very basic look at several programming languages.  The class is for students who have had no programming. It is usually independent study.
  2. CSCI 135 – Python
  3. CSCI 136 – Java

The university is changing CSCI 100 to something else.  What? I cannot seem to find out. I knew what the course was before because I know the instructor.  He has changed departments and is no longer going to teach it so I cannot find out what is going to happen to it.  The CSCI 136 is changing to a mostly Python with a little Java at the end. A “little Java”? Is there such a thing?  Disaster is coming.

I want to bring in a Web design and building course and an app builder course (not App Inventor) to the school’s curriculum.  (I don’t know diddly about web building or app building (other than App Inventor) but those are minor details.) For the last few weeks I have been looking around the internet for web building and app building resources.  Lots of good stuff out there. The question is (other than what to use in the course) can I get the kids dual-credit for this? I may have to wander over to the university and actually do a face-to-face with a human. How retro.

The university is also offering a game making course.  The difficulty is the course is a 300 level and dual-credit is not offered for 300 level courses.  Last week I went to a showing of the final projects for the university students in the course. Of the four projects three were well below the level of my students taking my game course.  The fourth was using a Vive VR system and was very good. Not beyond what my better students could do but very near the top.  I need to talk to someone over there it get a 200 level game course.

I have talked about the app course previously.  I looked at a number of app building softwares and had concluded that if the kids are going to build something decent it has to be with Android Studio.  (I have no Macs.) So for the last couple of weeks I have been tinkering with it. I have concluded we will not be doing an app builder course unless I can scrounge up some better computers.  Due to a shortage of Android phones among the students we would have to use the simulator. The simulator works, it just takes two or three minutes to open each time I run it. That quickly gets to be a pain.  Need better hardware. I am running over to the free recycle warehouse next week. He says he has some nice i5s. I will get twice as many as I need and rob RAM to build a better machine. Not sure that will make a difference in load time but it is worth a try.

Building curriculum is a pain.  I want to do some cool stuff and get those kids interested in CS all the foundational knowledge I can pitch at them.  I also want to temp those not interested in CS to give it a try. Basic programming in multiple languages, apps, game making, web design, VR, AR, AI, robotics, there just is not enough time in the school day, enough money to buy good equipment, or enough time in my life to build it all.  But it sure is fun trying.

Now back to getting the Lego EV3s working with Python.  Cool!


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