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Harvard: Prospective CS50 AP Teachers Must cc:Microsoft On Training Applications 79

theodp writes: Did you know that Microsoft has supported Harvard in creating a new version [of its wildly-popular CS50 course] called CS50 AP, designed specifically for secondary school educators?" asks a Microsoft Born to Learn Blog post. "If you might like to teach CS50 AP (and, in turn, AP CS Principles) in your own classroom this year," Harvard informs prospective teachers, "you are cordially invited to join us at one of our teacher training workshops to be held in various locations around the country and the world!" But before applications can be successfully submitted, teachers are required to respond to the following statement, and Harvard won't take 'No' for an answer: "Our friends at Microsoft are helping us distribute the teacher support materials for this version of CS50 for secondary school teachers and students. By checking the box below, you acknowledge that we may share the data you submitted through this form with them as part of this planning process." Microsoft is certainly calling the K-12 CS education shots these days — heck, the White House even let Microsoft President Brad Smith brief reporters about plans to spend $4B in tax dollars on a new CS for All K-12 initiative before the President told taxpayers about it. By the way, the CS50 AP Wiki contains a CS50x/CS50 AP Authorization and Release form which, among other things, requires camera-shy CS50 AP students to agree to "sit in a 'no-film' zone" if they do not want photos or videos of themselves used by Harvard to promote the Microsoft-supported course."
From the agreement: "I understand that my teacher will take reasonable steps, with my cooperation, to avoid including identifiable images of me in the Recordings. I understand that I am free to opt out of the Recordings in this way, and that doing so will not affect my grade or my ability to participate in course activities. Unless I opt out of the Recordings as described above and take the steps that will be outlined by the instructor to avoid being filmed, I authorize Harvard and its designees to use the Recordings. I understand and agree that the Recordings may include my image, name, and voice. I also understand and agree that, even if I opt out of the Recordings, my spoken name and voice may be picked up by microphones outside any "no-film" zone and may be included in the Recordings.
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Harvard: Prospective CS50 AP Teachers Must cc:Microsoft On Training Applications

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  • by ShaunC ( 203807 ) on Monday February 15, 2016 @03:43PM (#51513469)

    Would people be okay with the idea of Exxon helping to design AP Environmental Science curriculum? Should criminal justice coursework be overseen by Smith and Wesson? Corporate sponsors don't belong in these roles but for some reason everyone throws caution to the wind when they hear "computer."

    • Because no one else is stepping up to the plate?
      • Exactly. It used to be Apple who dictated what was taught in high school computer science courses, but it looks like they let Microsoft take over.

        If you don't like it, get your big tech company to throw some money at lobbyists and fix the problem. Facebook is already working on the younger generation of future coders.

        • >> Apple who dictated what was taught in high school computer science courses

          Given their direction on Swift 2, I wouldn't let Apple within 100 yards of anyone who wanted a job in CS someday. (http://www.infoworld.com/article/3027100/mobile-development/seven-swift-2-enhancements-every-ios-developer-will-love.html)

          • by west ( 39918 )

            Okay, totally off-topic, but I'll bite.

            What makes Swift 2 the Black Death of programming languages?

            • I don't know either (and I've never used Swift), but in reading through the article, some of the choices seem a little bizarre. the defer keyword seems like a nice idea, but I have to wonder if it won't also end up in some poorly behaving code due to misuse. It's not a bad idea, but you could accomplish the same thing by leaving a comment to yourself as a reminder to cleanup resources or just write that deallocation/cleanup code immediately before going any farther. However, it does make the cleanup code li
        • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Monday February 15, 2016 @05:17PM (#51514237) Journal

          Exactly. It used to be Apple who dictated what was taught in high school computer science courses, but it looks like they let Microsoft take over.

          Umm, yes and no.

          I did the teaching thing for a living (HS and Collegiate-level CS, no less), and here's how it really works:

          Option A: Write your own curriculum, your own syllabus, your own tests, your own labs, select your own textbooks (within an approved list, from state-approved vendors), insure your classroom and your school both have the budget for it (doubly so if any of it relies on equipment such as desktops, servers, networking gear, etc), insure that it all tracks with state education standards for your subject matter and level of competence, get it all approved by the state office of education... And then maybe next year you can start teaching it, but note that you'll have to do it all over again as soon as newer information and technologies come out. Also note that anyone in the bureaucratic morass can (and sometimes often will) happily veto the whole thing with a long list of objections, causing you to spend countless hours and metric tons of paper in justifying it.


          Option B: Have $megacorp arrive and provide all the syllabi, curricula, tests, labs, and in some cases even the textbooks - for free! Hell, they'll even give you a massive discount on the equipment. The state board of education (never known for their technical acumen) has already rubber-stamped approval for it, and as a bonus you, your managers, your principals/administrators... they're all salivating at the massive PR (and potential career) boost they'll get when they present it to the public with lots of pomp and circumstance. Oh, and the school board will just love you to death - maybe even give you a plaque for your wall at home, calling you an 'innovator' or suchlike.

          Now... throw in the fact that most (not all, but disturbingly "most") teachers are career-oriented folks (to be too charitable about it), and they are inherently averse to either rocking the boat, or to doing more work than they already do.

          So, in light of those facts, guess which option gets chosen the most? Note that I've done Option A [linuxtoday.com], and I gotta tell you; it's not the class-side grunt work that's so intensive - it's the bureaucracy that sucks down all your time (and your soul, etc). But then, a labor of love is exactly that, so I don't regret it... however, way too may teachers out there, sadly, think differently on the subject.

    • by trylak ( 935041 )
      Would we allow Ford to help design an automotive engineering course? Would we allow Dell to help design a computer repair course?
      • It already exists. You have the misconception of thinking that "CS" is still a college required career. It's a skilled trade. Ford did (and still does) have a hand in helping to craft automotive repair tech courses.

      • Would you allow Ford to design an automotive engineering course that danced around the actual principles of operation of internal combustion engines (2-stroke/4-stroke, carburetor/fuel injector, petrol/diesel, timing, intake/exhaust systems, operation of turbochargers for diesel, etc) the left the student out of their depth when presented with a Mitsubishi or Volvo design?

        That being said, I always bring my Ford car to the Ford dealership because all the independent garages around here are incompetent scumba

    • by Zak3056 ( 69287 ) on Monday February 15, 2016 @04:00PM (#51513625) Journal

      Would people be okay with the idea of Exxon helping to design AP Environmental Science curriculum?

      No, because they have a vested interest obfuscating the issue, and a history of doing so in the past. Designing a curriculum in geology, or mineral extraction? Why not, they probably have quite a bit to offer, here.

      Should criminal justice coursework be overseen by Smith and Wesson?

      No, because they're a manufacturer of precision machined products, and have no core competency in law. I'm sure, though,they their engineers and machinists would do a hell of a job in educating those on the vo/tech side of the high school educational path.

      Should Microsoft be able to contribute to CSCI educational coursework? (I'm putting words in your mouth, for the sake of argument)

      Yes, yes, they should. Apple, Google, Cisco, HP or whatever they're calling themselves these days, etc, yes, they can absolutely play an important role, here.

      Corporate sponsors don't belong in these roles

      Now we come to the crux of the issue. Despite my statements above, the idea that Microsoft should be interesting themselves in the AP process to the point where they must be included on all correspondence is absolutely ridiculous and should NOT be allowed. "Giving back" by devoting some of the talent an experience these companies have at their disposal? Yes, absolutely. Being part of the "process?" Fuck no.

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        This, and I'd go a couple further.

        In a value-neutral way, what's basically happening here is that Microsoft is looking to make the education system produce graduates who can work in IT fields.

        However, in a less value-neutral way, they're looking to socialize vocational training for future employees by making the educational system turn out graduates skilled in what they believe is useful in their business.

        You could possibly view this as a positive -- schools are open to all kinds of criticism for teaching s

    • -1, moot

      Microsoft is not participating in the design of public school AP curricula. Microsoft is participating in the design of the teacher training conducted by another private entity.

    • Hear, hear. Microsoft has it's fingers in way too many pies now, and is doing whatever they damned well please, and they DGAF. I think it's time for Microsoft to be broken up into many smaller independent companies.
  • by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Monday February 15, 2016 @03:57PM (#51513607)

    Really? When is this silliness going to end?

    They aren't there to teach you, they are there to take your money and make a profit.

    Stop pretending this organizations are about education and you'll stop looking stupid when you talk about them. American Universities are profit centers, not educational facilities. I can't speak for the rest of the world, but in America, thats the case.

  • What are you, twelve years old? Harvard is a private institution that can do what it wants. And trust me, the student body and faculty are MORE than capable of fighting back against policies they don't like.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      What are you, twelve years old? Harvard is a private institution that can do what it wants. And trust me, the student body and faculty are MORE than capable of fighting back against policies they don't like.


      Except they get federal funding. Historically and still to this day. And tax subsidies and abatements. And preferential tax treatment on their investment income.
      Other than that though sure. I'd like to open a chain of private toll roads, focusing on bridges acquisition. Once I do, its private, and I should be able to say "No Blacks, Jews or A-Rabs." because it's private right? OR maybe a private security firm that goes around murderi

  • Harvard can't make money because its education quality is falling through the floor, thus they have to rely upon partnering with large corporations.

  • by destinyland ( 578448 ) on Monday February 15, 2016 @04:06PM (#51513671)
    CS50 starts students off with C, but by the end you've moved on to PHP, SQL, JavaScript, and HTML. It's nice that people care so much about CS50 that they're now just arguing about how it's being implemented. But for what it's worth, everyone can also take the course free online at EdX, the Harvard-MIT partnership. (That's what I did.) They'll even give you a (free) certificate of completion.
  • microsoft certrified AP: I was trained in a microsoft approved and endorsed course sponsored by a carte blanc effort by taxpayers to learn to code or die trying. I couldnt tell a router from a switch, but so long as its in visual basic im good to code!

    anyone else: I couldnt afford harvard, couldnt afford community college, but spent my nights and weekends playing doom and hacking underhanded C. I wrote my own autoresponder in perl. I interfaced my coffeemaker in python with an arduino. ive been "suspe
    • by Anonymous Coward

      just fixate on the fact that im a girl, and girls + code == important.

      #define DO_NOT_HIRE 0
      #define HIRE 1

      typedef char BYTE;

      bool hire_peon(const BYTE * name, const size_t nameLen, const bool bFemale, const BYTE * qualifications, const size_t qualificationsLen, const BYTE * jobReqs, const size_t jobReqsLen)
      bool ret = DO_NOT_HIRE;

      if (Check_Meets_Job_Requirements(jobReqs, jobReqsLen, qualifications, qualificationsLen))
      ret = HIRE;

  • by ISoldat53 ( 977164 ) on Monday February 15, 2016 @04:21PM (#51513801)
    Take the cost out of what MS owes in taxes.
  • by RedMage ( 136286 ) on Monday February 15, 2016 @05:30PM (#51514351) Homepage

    I wouldn't read too much into the "no film zone". All Harvard classes that are recorded have that clause, and have had it for at least 10 years. Maybe longer, but I can't remember that far back.

The wages of sin are high but you get your money's worth.