Three years to a computer science degree

Instead of working in the fields like her mother, Leticia Sanchez hopes to earn a low-cost computer science degree in three years to make it from the Salinas Valley to Silicon Valley.

At Brooklyn’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School, students study a curriculum designed with help from IBM, work with mentors supplied by IBM and get on the inside track for IBM jobs when they graduate — potentially with an associate degree. The employer-linked grade 9-14 model will be replicated at 16 sites across New York state.

Georgia Tech + Udacity = $7,000 degree

MOOCs aren’t disruptive — unless they lead to a degree. It didn’t take long. Georgia Tech will partner with Udacity to offer an online master’s degree in computer science for $7,000, reports Forbes. The on-campus program costs $40,000.

Georgia Tech hopes to grow its master’s program from 300 students now to as many as 10,000 within three years, but expects to hire only eight new instructors.

EdX will ‘blend’ with community colleges

Two Boston community colleges will partner with edX, Harvard and MIT’s online learning venture, on a “blended” computer science class. Three MIT professors will teach the online course; community college professors will provide classroom instruction and support.

Microsoft engineers teach high school

Microsoft engineers are teaching high school computer classes (with the help of regular teachers) to encourage young people to pursue technical careers, reports the New York Times. The company, founded by education philanthropist Bill Gates, has issued a report on educating young people for science, math and technology jobs,  A National Talent Strategy.

There are likely to be 150,000 computing jobs opening up each year through 2020, according to an analysis of federal forecasts by the Association for Computing Machinery, a professional society for computing researchers. But despite the hoopla around start-up celebrities like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, fewer than 14,000 American students received undergraduate degrees in computer science last year, the Computing Research Association estimates. And the wider job market remains weak.

“People can’t get jobs, and we have jobs that can’t be filled,” Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel who oversees its philanthropic efforts, said in a recent interview.

Microsoft pays engineers a small stipend to teach at least two high school classes a week for a full school year.

Google funds a programming summer camp for incoming ninth graders as well as computer science workshops for high school teachers, the Times reports.

Fewer high school students are taking computer science, according to the U.S. Education Department.  However, the number of computer science bachelor’s degrees has been rising for four years, after years of decline.

In 2012, a new graduate with a computer science degree started at $58,300, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Digital badge winners include Scout app

Among the winning badge ideas at the Digital Media and Learning Competition is My Girl Scout Sash is an App:

My Girl Scout Sash on MentorMob brings the Girl Scout Leadership Experience and career development badge program to a digital media learning platform for girls, ages 5-17, with a focus on middle school and high school. Through collaboration with Motorola Mobility Foundation and MentorMob, teams of girls will create apps, demonstrating and sharing the knowledge gained and badge proficiencies.

Digital badges”can be used to help people learn; demonstrate their skills and knowledge; unlock job, educational and civic opportunities; and open new pipelines to talent,” says the MacArthur Foundation, which is working with Mozilla and HASTAC on the idea.

Other winners include BuzzMath which will award badges for mastery of Common Core math concepts, BadgesWork for Vets, which will help veterans show the skills they’ve learned in the military,  and Carnegie Mellon’s Computer Science Student Network, “an online learning environment where students, teachers, and hobbyists can earn badges and certifications as they play with, compete in, and learn about computer science and STEM-related topics.”

 

Boys dominate AP physics, computer science

Most STEM fields are likely to remain predominantly male. Boys take more AP physics and computer science exams, while girls now dominate AP biology (59 percent), notes Curriculum Matters, who’s been reading the AP Report to the Nation. While Calculus AB exam-takers are evenly split, 59 percent of those who tackle the more advanced Calculus BC are male.

Males make up 58 percent of AP music theory exam-takers, 74 to 77 percent in physics and 80 to 86 percent in computer science.

Gender differences were minor for Chemistry, European History, Latin, Statistics and U.S. Government and Politics.

In The Big Bang Theory, three males are physicists (theoretical, experimental and astro) and one is an engineer, while the female scientists are biologists.

 

Virtual Stanford course draws 58,000

So far, 58,000 people in 175 countries have signed up for a free-, no-credit, online course in artificial intelligence, one of three pilot classes by Stanford computer science professors.

The online students will be ranked in comparison to the work of other online students and will receive a “statement of accomplishment,” reports the New York Times.

Introductory courses in database software and machine learning also will be offered.

The three online courses, which will employ both streaming Internet video and interactive technologies for quizzes and grading, have in the past been taught to smaller groups of Stanford students in campus lecture halls.

. . . How will the artificial intelligence instructors grade 58,000 students? The scientists said they would make extensive use of technology.

In place of office hours, they will use the Google moderator service, software that will allow students to vote on the best questions for the professors to respond to in an online chat and possibly video format. They are considering ways to personalize the exams to minimize cheating.

“I personally would like to see the equivalent of a Stanford computer science degree on the Web,” Dr. (Andrew) Ng said.

Dr. (Jennifer) Widom envisions allowing smaller colleges to supplement locally taught classes with online Stanford classes.

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Woz: Ask for new answers

To encourage innovative thinking, schools should let students work on semester-long projects, said Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak in a speech, reports Computerworld.

“A really innovative person is known for something that usually took an awful lot of thinking, maybe even over years, and a lot of development in a laboratory putting it together and getting it to work. And it’s new and it’s different. And it’s not something you read about in a book,” he said.

“In school, intelligence is a measurement,” he continued. “If you have the same answer as everyone else in math or science, you’re intelligent.”

In English class, students write essays that express their own ideas, Wozniak said. (He may be overestimating the creativity of  assigned essays.)  Computer science students also should seek “different answers than what I’ve known in the past or what I’ve read or heard,” he said.

Technology development projects reward innovators with a feeling of personal pride of accomplishing something no one else has done before, and “that’s the sort of thing that inspires you to believe in yourself as an inventor type, not just an engineer who knows the equation.”

“The value of these big projects is you learn diligence, lot of repetition. A lot of hard work results in something that’s your own. Your own. You built it. You have personal pride,” he said. “Personal pride is the strongest motivating force there is.”

Wozniak taught computer science for years in the public schools his children attended in Los Gatos, a wealthy suburb of San Jose.

As an example of what Wozniak is talking about, I highly recommend Neal Bascomb’s The New Cool, subtitled “A Visionary Teacher, his FIRST Robotics Team and the Ultimate Battle of Smarts.”

Where the jobs are

On Community College Spotlight: Career switchers train as truckers and mechanics.

Arizona State helps community college transfers earn engineering and computer science degrees.

Surprise! Engineering beats English in pay

Surprise! Engineering graduates earn more than liberal arts grads, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Graduates with engineering degrees averaged $56,000 in their first full-time jobs out of college, compared to $34,000 for Communications and English majors. Computer science majors start at $50,000.

[MAJORPAY]

The PayScale survey included 11,000 people who graduated between 1999 and 2010. The reported starting pay was adjusted for inflation to make the salaries of graduates from different years comparable.

While accounting and economics majors do fairly well in their first job, business and marketing majors don’t earn much more than social sciences and liberal arts majors.

The analysis looks at starting pay for people with four-year degrees. It does not look at pay for people who earn master’s or professional degrees.