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Education

AP Computer Science Education Scalability: Advantage, Rupert Murdoch? 47

theodp writes: Code.org's AP Computer Science offering won't be going mainstream until the 2016-2017 school year. In the meantime, NewsWorks' Avi Wolfman-Arent reports that Rupert Murdoch's Amplify MOOC just wrapped up its second year of offering AP Computer Science A. And unlike Microsoft TEALS, Google CS First, and Code.org — programs constrained by the number of volunteers, teacher and classroom availability, professional development requirements, and money — Murdoch's AP CS MOOC holds the promise of open-access, unlimited-enrollment, learn-anywhere-and-anytime classes, a la Coursera, Udacity and EdX. So, did Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and their leaders place a $30 million bet on the wrong horse when it comes to AP Computer Science scalability? And, even if they've got a more scalable model, will Murdoch's Amplify and schools be willing to deal with higher MOOC failure rates, and allow large numbers of students to try — and possibly drop or fail — AP CS without economic or academic consequences?
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AP Computer Science Education Scalability: Advantage, Rupert Murdoch?

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  • by gabebear ( 251933 ) on Wednesday May 20, 2015 @08:49AM (#49734821) Homepage Journal
    I've taught through TEALS (iOS programmer by day).

    The TEALS program is for high-school. The demographic is primarily Juniors and Seniors, but some Freshmen and Sophomores. Computer Science doesn't count toward the core science requirements in most states(I've taught in Kentucky and New York and neither does). As an elective class you generally get kids signing up who are either really interested or who's parents/guidance-councilor push them, either way they are generally pretty engaged. Ideally, the kids should be ready to take the AP computer science test which will hopefully make it easier to get into the college they want (if they are actually interested in programming).

    These online self-guided lessons are great, but not a replacement for classroom learning.
    • AP Computer Science will have no bearing on a students acceptance into a college. As a teacher you should know that. Stop selling snake oil.
      • Taking AP classes and your scoring well definitely has a bearing on your acceptance to a college. While only some schools will give you credit , I'd hope any college would look at a student's academic record(often by just asking the school's guidance counselor).
      • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Wednesday May 20, 2015 @11:33AM (#49735971)

        AP Computer Science will have no bearing on a students acceptance into a college.

        Nonsense. Taking AP classes, and doing well in them, will definitely help you get into the college you want. AP courses are considered "college level" and are a good indicator that a student can succeed in college.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Uh huh. What college uses AP CS as the deciding factor to get in? You're a liar.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I certainly benefited from strong computer teachers. I started with summer programs on teletype machines in middle school learning basic, then mainframes and microcomputers in high school. For most students someone who can direct, facilitate, and curate instruction is very important.

      In high school and middle school there is about three hours of instruction per week, much of it at low efficiency. It is not enough to teach the kids who would learn a skill anyone. We have to try to teach those that might no

  • Make it available to everyone and not just schools for free!
    • Make it available to everyone and not just schools for free!

      That's a demand you can make to the government, not to private entities.

  • High school students need an AP Computer Science course. When they hit college professors will tell them to unlearn what they think they learned.
  • What the hell is a MOOC? Come on if your going to use a new acronym you should define it.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Massive Open Online Course
      (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massive_open_online_course)

    • Re:Maybe I'm Old (Score:4, Insightful)

      by luis_a_espinal ( 1810296 ) on Wednesday May 20, 2015 @09:10AM (#49734939) Homepage

      What the hell is a MOOC?

      You can find a definition here [lmgtfy.com].

      I'm old, but I can use google, and before that Altavista and before that the dreaded usenets. Some of my managers or former managers are in their 60's and they are the first ones to hit that shit (with the browsers in their smart phones if needed) when they encounter an acronym that they don't know. Hell, my mom who is in her 70's and who is not a technical person at all knows how to use google.

      I really don't get the "Maye I'm Old" meme.

      Come on if your going to use a new acronym you should define it.

      The acronym has already been defined for an "eternity" relative to Internet-based technology. You just don't know it (which is fine), and can't find a way to find a meaning for it (which, in a technical-oriented forum, it is not fine.)

    • by FreeUser ( 11483 )

      I agree. It may only take a few seconds to google, but that's a few seconds unnecessarily wasted because the summary poster was too lazy to provide a definition (though to be fair, with as inaccurate as some summaries have been lately, this isn't the worst offense by far).

      MOOC
      moÍzok/
      noun
      a course of study made available over the Internet without charge to a very large number of people.
      "anyone who decides to take a MOOC simply logs on to the website and signs up"

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Wednesday May 20, 2015 @09:03AM (#49734899)

    >> schools be willing to deal with higher MOOC failure rates, and allow large numbers of students to try — and possibly drop or fail — AP CS without economic or academic consequences?

    This used to be called "auditing" a course. It's pretty rare to do today, but when college was affordable it used to be a way to try out a course and an instructor before you committed academic consequences.

    • If you audit do you not have to go back and it take the class over again for credit?
      • >> do you not have to go back and it take the class over again for credit?

        Yes, you do, but the typical pattern seemed to be to stick with an audited course for six weeks or so (the "trial period"), decide you want to take it for real next semester, and then buckle down on your real courses for the rest of the semester.

  • by NovaChild ( 217455 ) <acadec_nova@y a h o o .com> on Wednesday May 20, 2015 @10:52AM (#49735581)

    Math and (future) CS teacher here (starting a program at my all-girls school next year): Just factually, it's worth noting that AP Computer Science A (the course done by this MOOC and that has been around for many years) and AP Computer Science Principles (the new AP course that code.org, among many others, will offer a curriculum for next year) are designed from the ground up to be wildly different animals.

    AP CS A is a traditional programming course that uses Java as its required language. It goes fairly in depth into topics like algorithms and big-O notation and analysis, but is primarily focused on procedural and OO programming skills. It has a 3-hour exam, mostly multiple choice but with a small "hand-write a program to do x" section as well, as its final assessment.

    AP CS Principles is designed to be a project-based course covering general topics such as abstraction, data and information, using computers for creative expression, the internet, collaborative problem solving, and the global impact of computing, as well as an introduction to programming. Teachers and students can use any programming language they'd like - early curriculum materials exist that use everything from Scratch to Javascript to Python. The assessment consists of a shorter multiple choice test (any programming examples in the test use a very simple, well-defined pseudo-code, rather than requiring specific language knowledge) AS WELL AS two submitted digital projects: one programming project (with both individual and collaborative components) and one research project on global impact of computing. Like the AP Studio Art projects, rubrics and basic guidelines for these projects are required, and readers will be looking for specific knowledge on topics such as abstraction and algorithms, but the project itself is designed and chosen by the students themselves.

    CS Principles is not likely to scale as well to a MOOC (and frankly I have doubts that code.org's implementation will be amazing either). Personally, I'm very excited about the course as we HAVE had a hard time keeping enrollment numbers up for traditional programming courses in my smallish all-girls school - I think this one allows for a little more room for the exploration and creativity that seems to be of more interest to girls.

  • ... tell me what AP was?

  • Most likely the reason eeeeevil Rupert Murdoch's solution scales better is he wasn't constrained by the problem of keeping people of the wrong gender and ethnicity out of the program.

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