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Computer Textbooks For High Schoolers?

kdawson posted about 6 years ago | from the basics-for-beginners dept.

Education 361

wetdogjp writes "I recently became a high school teacher, and I've inherited three classes with no textbooks! While two of my classes are introductory in nature, one for computers in general and the other for networking, the third class should prepare juniors and seniors to enter the workforce and start a career in computers. We have some older textbooks by Heathkit available, but the newest of them are four years old. Do Slashdotters have any favorite textbooks that can help kids on their way to becoming junior sysadmins, programmers, networking professionals, etc.? Would you suggest books to prepare students to take certification tests such as A+, Network+, or others? Any textbooks we use would need to cover quite a breadth of material, such as PC hardware, operating systems, networking, security, and more."

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paper is overrated (4, Interesting)

Brain Damaged Bogan (1006835) | about 6 years ago | (#24839079)

The internet has all the information they need to know. Just teach them how to search effectively for the information they want.

Re:paper is overrated (5, Insightful)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | about 6 years ago | (#24839111)

It has a problem with presenting facts in an orderly manner and often won't elaborate on some of the more advanced topics.

Re:paper is overrated (2, Interesting)

Nymz (905908) | about 6 years ago | (#24839223)

It has a problem with presenting facts in an orderly manner and often won't elaborate on some of the more advanced topics.

Without dismissing your points, I don't think they outweigh the value of the parent poster's suggestion. What good is a perfected worded book that is four or more years old, and irrelevant compared to internet resources, as the summary informs?

I'm glad this summary was posted as News, and not AskSlashdot, because discussing the root of the challenge is much more interesting, than 1000s of people suggesting any particular book they've read themselves.

Re:paper is overrated (4, Insightful)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | about 6 years ago | (#24839279)

What good is a perfected worded book that is four or more years old, and irrelevant compared to internet resources, as the summary informs?

Maybe we need an IT-wiki-ebook.

Re:paper is overrated (4, Interesting)

Nymz (905908) | about 6 years ago | (#24839533)

Maybe we need an IT-wiki-ebook.

Make it the class project! ;-)

Re:paper is overrated (3, Insightful)

beakerMeep (716990) | about 6 years ago | (#24839167)

Ok. You win the sweeping generalization of the day award.

(dont take that too personally, we've all won that at one time or another)

Personally, I think books are great. They can provide in-depth look at a focused topic. The internet, on the other hand, is (generally) more of a mass collection of tidbits of information. Both have their usage.

I also am a big fan of unchaining from the desk. It's good for your health, your eyes, and your sanity. And I find it easier to lug a book around on the subway then trying to connect to the unavailable internet on a lap heater.


As to the topic though, I am not sure how useful it is to learn computers in high school. I would hope there would be more of a college prep approach. However, I am not such a blind idealist that I believe every student will be going to college. Still, the question seems a bit idealist itself -- to think a single class in computers at the high school level would prepare a student to enter a professional workforce seems a stretch. But I may be over-analyzing it.

Re:paper is overrated (2, Insightful)

Brain Damaged Bogan (1006835) | about 6 years ago | (#24839251)

I can see your point, but I can't actually remember when I last broke the spine of a non-fictional book to glean some information. In the real world the computing students will be much better off learning HOW to find the information they need that being handed a book filled with information, most of which is probably not even relevant to the tasks they'll be given.

Re:paper is overrated (2, Insightful)

Enleth (947766) | about 6 years ago | (#24839337)

And I can remember that just fine, as it was last Friday. So what?

If it works for you, great, but don't assume it does for everyone.

Re:paper is overrated (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24839209)

'search effectively'... for you as a teacher that's the 'book' you need.

Printed textbooks aren't a device for 'learning', they are a device for you to benchmark and evaluate student progress against (unfortunately this doesn't usually relate to real-world requirements) ... learning is about discovery... and the web rightly or wrongly is the most open form of discovery available â" you just have to work out what the 'fit' is in the classroom environment.

BTW most kids out of school we employ (20+ a year) get training in the task we want them to do. Smart Asses who 'know how to do stuff' usually have a career lifespan of a week. Those who 'want to do stuff' last a lifetime. I know this cause I got employed out of school 20 years ago and I'm now the boss... and I love my job.


Re:paper is overrated (3, Interesting)

spotmonk (781716) | about 6 years ago | (#24839669)

The internet has all the information they need to know. Just teach them how to search effectively for the information they want.

I almost agree with this. With such a wide range of topics that a textbook would need to cover, it would almost make more sense to break your semester or whatever into the topics you need to cover, then find a reputable website that will teach the topic as detailed as you would like. If it's not as detailed as you would like, find another website to support it. It's a lot cheaper than finding multiple textbooks that explain everything you want in what detail you want. Also, it's a lot easier to find websites that are up to date with changing hardware/software/security practices than textbooks.

Someone mentioned making a wiki textbook, and someone else mentioned making that a class project. I had a math class in which we had to all find our own individual web page about functions and then read all the others. I thought it was completely useless in math, but in the everchanging world of technology it makes a lot of sense to just collect a lot of information and sort through what is useful.

Your first year teaching the class might not learn as much as they might from brand new textbooks, but your fourth year will learn more than they would from four year old textbooks. And maybe by that point more than they would from new textbooks. Especially if the class is designed to prepare them for some sort of job market, the instruction in the class would have to be as changing as the demand of the market.

Re:paper is overrated (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24839807)

Mod this up to +10, this is so true.

Don't Underestimate Paper (5, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 6 years ago | (#24839891)

Given the choice, I prefer a paper source over an internet link nine times out of ten. A good book, properly indexed, is almost always superior to someones personal page or site on a topic. There are exceptions, but overall books offer better presentations. The physical format of a book is also easier on the eyes, and more accessible than a computer monitor.

Hyperlinks are all very well for wiki-trips, but wiki-trips are really more for general knowledge learning. The question of the credibility of information on the internet also refuses to go away. Everyone by now has encountered information on wikipedia they know to be wrong or misleading. The same goes for websites. I don't mean to say that books and printed materials intrinsically have more credibility. But it's usually higher for them, though not by an order of magnitude.

If you want specific, detailed information and training on a topic, you need to read a book.

what languages? (5, Informative)

story645 (1278106) | about 6 years ago | (#24839117)

Dietel & Dietel publish a bunch of intro books (c++, java, a few others) that have a bunch of supplements/coding examples/etc. on their website. They're very newbie friendly and cover a good deal of information. Actually, so do some of the AP comp sci review books (my Baron's AP Java book has a lot of clear examples.)

Look at other high schools and community colleges that teach the same thing you do and see what books they're using.

Certification prep is a double edged sword. The books may be accessible, but they also may be too focused on the test and therefore teach to it rather than teach general skills.

Also, you don't need to use a book for everything. All my intro programming books do a brief overview of hardware, and my profs add when needed. I didn't even have a textbook for my high school computer hardware class (basically a build your own computer thing, but we also learned about karnough maps, logic, and other basics.)

Re:what languages? (1)

dbcad7 (771464) | about 6 years ago | (#24839553)

Not picking on you specifically.. but your at the top, and it is repeated again and again below.. The question was about.. Intro to computers, networking.. and job skills (office suites)... every one wants to jump past all this and teach programming for some reason... Now granted the average HS student today probably doesn't need "intro" courses for computers (maybe networking though).. but that is what was asked for... now let me ask you this.. does college level "intro to computers" teach c++ or java ??... nope, separate subject.

Re:what languages? (1)

story645 (1278106) | about 6 years ago | (#24839811)

Um, from the orginal post:

Do Slashdotters have any favorite textbooks that can help kids on their way to becoming junior sysadmins, programmers, networking professionals, etc.?

I was just answering the part I know something about, having taken two programming and one hardware course in high school. Never touched networking, aside from the one I've got at home. Also, nothing in his post implies that the job skills course isn't basically a programming one.

Heathcliff, where are you, Heathcliff ? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24839119)

Oh, Heathkiiiit. Right. Overpriced kit of shoddy electronics that you git to slap together to make a piece of shit for which you can say, I made that, to your friends, who will only say under their breath, god that looks like some east german shit if ever I saw east german shit.

Write your own (2, Interesting)

fyrewulff (702920) | about 6 years ago | (#24839123)

Do your job for once and write a curriculum like every homeschooling parent must do? Because your teacher's union has blocked the aftermarket sale price of all textbooks?

My C++ teacher had a big book on C++, but all of his lessons were obviously custom written. He just used the book as a foundation.

Re:Write your own (2, Interesting)

rtb61 (674572) | about 6 years ago | (#24839221)

Well, it makes much more sense to create a 'open' education program, where schools from around the globe and through the various levels, primary, high school and university create a series of open text books for 'free' use within the education system. Obviously students in university could gain credit for digital texts written and corroborated on for use in high school and primary school.

Doesn't solve the current problem but certainly makes sense for the future and to ensure that acceptable standards are achieved and graded against. Custom written tends to produce wildly variable results with often archaic out of date content or even just totally wrong information, not much point getting it marked right if it is wrong. An easy start is to do what most students do and start with wikipedia and go from there (follow the links they are generally pretty good), just don't reference it ;).

Re:Write your own (4, Insightful)

Count Fenring (669457) | about 6 years ago | (#24839295)

Unkind, uncalled for, and incorrect to boot.

Seriously: A) Homeschooling - not a perfect solution to the INCREDIBLY complicated problem of getting kids educated. In many cases, not a good solution. And, fyi, public school teachers build curriculums. So do private school teachers.

B) You kill your own argument by pointing out that "used the book as a foundation." He still used the book. He still needed the book. And why? Because a quality textbook is one of the most useful and powerful tools for both guided and self-directed learning. Because trying to learn anything without some sort of organized reference is maddeningly difficult. Because, I don't know, a teacher only has so much time with the kids, and they need more information than he can fit into one hour (maybe 1.5) per weekday.

Your argument (such as it was) demolished, I turn to motivation. What the hell is wrong with you? You see a question about relative quality of textbooks, and think "OHMYGOD, A CHANCE TO BASH TEACHERS AND UNIONS AND PROMOTE HOMESCHOOLING BECAUSE I'M THE SECRET LIBERTARIAN GOD-PRINCE!!!1!"

If you want to run an opinion blog, do so. But leave people who are trying to find ways to teach children better in peace, dude.

Re:Write your own (1)

Count Fenring (669457) | about 6 years ago | (#24839355)

Mod parent correct but unnecessarily harsh. I apologize for the venom, although I can't say it won't happen again.

Re:Write your own (1)

Belial6 (794905) | about 6 years ago | (#24839583)

You mean INCORRECT and unnecessarily harsh. You can be pissed all you want that homeschooling is more successful than public schools at giving kids a good education, but that doesn't change the fact that it regularly does so. You can also be pissed that someone suggest that teachers live up to their claims. If they are as good as they claim at educating, they should be able to write a decent text book. After all, according to most, they spend every night weekend and 3 months solid during the summer writing curriculum anyway.

Re:Write your own (1)

AuMatar (183847) | about 6 years ago | (#24839653)

Wrong. It occasionally does so, when the parent is a gifted teacher. Most of the time, it produces a moron who can barely pass the GED. The vast majority of parents are not qualified to teach basic high school math, science, or writing much less advanced classes in any of those. Not surprising though, since the most common reason for homeschooling is the parent's xenophobia. It tends to go hand in hand with ignorance.

Re:Write your own (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24839815)

Actually, most home-schooled children outperform non home-schooled children in academics, and are more socially well-adjusted than non home-schooled children. As far as morons are concerned, just read the average slashdot posting (yours included) and you can definitely tell which system produces more morons.

Re:Write your own (4, Insightful)

mr_matticus (928346) | about 6 years ago | (#24839801)

You can be pissed all you want that homeschooling is more successful than public schools at giving kids a good education

That's far from the truth.

There are certainly many success stories from homeschooling, but consider the inputs: those kids are motivated students from generally affluent families whose parents are themselves sufficiently sophisticated to prepare a curriculum. There was never really any doubt about the success of their education. The benefit comes from individual attention and self-pacing, which isn't a benefit of homeschooling but rather of class sizes you and your crackpot instruction.

For every "success", there's a sadly manipulated child as well as a total failure to go along with him. Saying that homeschooling is the answer is disingenuous at best. Few parents are sufficiently skilled or knowledgeable to complete an entire primary and secondary education.

If they are as good as they claim at educating, they should be able to write a decent text book.

Spoken like someone who truly fails to understand what a teacher is for. Educating isn't simply feeding data. Being able to write a textbook is an entirely different skill from being able to help students apply that information. You don't ask the race car driver to build the car. Even being an expert in a particular field does not mean you can write an effective textbook about it.

Just look at all the professors who are brilliant theorists and scholars but terrible instructors.

Re:Write your own (1, Troll)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 6 years ago | (#24839827)

You can be pissed all you want that homeschooling is more successful than public schools at giving kids a good education

If your definition of "good education" is that the Earth is 6000 years old.

Re:Write your own (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24839605)

"Seriously: A) Homeschooling - not a perfect solution to the INCREDIBLY complicated problem of getting kids educated."

It is complicated but if I were to have kids, I would homeschool them myself. When I was in school, all school did was waste my time. I think the real problem is that education is forced, and kids should be responsible for teaching themselves, after they have the basics, and should be given some kind of chores/jobs to do in their communities. i.e. work part time, and then be self-directed (mostly) in their education.

We are too afraid to let kids fail both in school and life.

Re:Write your own (4, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 6 years ago | (#24839797)

And, fyi, public school teachers build curriculums.

And home-schooled kids learning Latin would know the plural of curriculum is curricula ;)

Re:Write your own (1)

WillKemp (1338605) | about 6 years ago | (#24839909)

And home-schooled kids learning Latin would know the plural of curriculum is curricula ;)

Only in Latin! In English, the plural is "s".

Re:Write your own (1)

mrjb (547783) | about 6 years ago | (#24839505)

The problem with writing your own book is that it takes time, and lots of it- months to years. Even if you know what you're talking about. But kdawson needs a book now.

Re:Write your own (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24839615)

For info, when I was doing instructional design work (writing Technical courses, including the presentation material, exercises, tests etc..), we based our timeframe on typically 8-10 days work/research per 1 day of class training.

(Posting anon to preserve mod points)

High School Graduate Computer Careers? (3, Interesting)

Apple Acolyte (517892) | about 6 years ago | (#24839129)

the third class should prepare juniors and seniors to enter the workforce and start a career in computers.

Are any employers anywhere willing to hire high schoolers in any tech jobs in today's economy?

Re:High School Graduate Computer Careers? (5, Funny)

FearForWings (1189605) | about 6 years ago | (#24839205)

Maybe he was thinking on teaching from 'The C Programming Language' by K&R, and the class project would be writing a Turing complete interpreter for the Game of Life.

Re:High School Graduate Computer Careers? (5, Funny)

vigmeister (1112659) | about 6 years ago | (#24839237)

Are any employers anywhere willing to hire high schoolers in any tech jobs in today's economy?

You need to get out more and smell the recycled air at Best Buy, Circuit City, Apple stores etc.
Fairly sure those people are high school graduates at best. If those employees are college graduates, I am not sure that a college degree is worth all that much.

Me: Do you carry crossover cables?
Employee: What are those?
Me: A cable with cross-wired ethernet jacks at the ends.
Employee: What are you trying to use it for?
Me: To connect my desktop to my laptop
Employee: Well, you could use an external hard drive to transfer files over...


Re:High School Graduate Computer Careers? (2, Insightful)

Apple Acolyte (517892) | about 6 years ago | (#24839243)

That's mostly sales and not really a computer/tech job.

Re:High School Graduate Computer Careers? (3, Informative)

atrus (73476) | about 6 years ago | (#24839269)

In the age of auto MDI/MDIX, who uses crossover cables anymore? ;)

Re:High School Graduate Computer Careers? (1)

maccam (967469) | about 6 years ago | (#24839677)

I agree wholeheartedly. I haven't used crossover cables for desktop - laptop connections in the past two years. And, as you state, MDI/MDIX also eliminates the need to use crossover cables to add switches to a LAN, which was probably their most important use.

Re:High School Graduate Computer Careers? (2, Informative)

TikiTDO (759782) | about 6 years ago | (#24839537)

If you've got an IT/Programming/Engineering degree you probably will not work at Best Buy, Circuit City or Apple stores. Chances are the people you were talking to are high school grads with a few tech courses under their belts, exactly the same as the ones the article was talking about.

Re:High School Graduate Computer Careers? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24839831)

Me: Do you carry crossover cables?
Employee: What are those?
Me: A cable with cross-wired ethernet jacks at the ends.
Employee: What are you trying to use it for?
Me: To connect my desktop to my laptop
Employee: Well, you could use an external hard drive to transfer files over...


Didn't you get a set of crimpers with your geek card?

Re:High School Graduate Computer Careers? (0, Offtopic)

vigmeister (1112659) | about 6 years ago | (#24839881)

Didn't you get a set of crimpers with your geek card?

Both of those were nowhere to be found amongst all the empty styrofoam bowls with korean lettering and hot pocket sleeve origami.

Re:High School Graduate Computer Careers? (1)

hendrix2k (1099161) | about 6 years ago | (#24839931)

While I know we're all sick of the defensive employee rant, I'd just like to point out that not all Best Buy/Circuit City/Apple employees are high-school educated dolts.

I recently moved from a small-market store in the Northwest (where the Geek Squad and PC employees were far more competent than the customer base) to a large suburban store (where, as customers have mentioned all too often, finding a competent employee can be quite a struggle), so there is a bit of wiggle room.

From my experience it has more to do with the employment opportunities than anything else. At the first store all the Geek Squad employees were college educated but without better opportunity in that locale. The few that have moved to larger cities have found much better employment almost instantly.

But with the turnover in larger markets, you can't really expect big box stores to require certifications for salespeople, can you?

Re:High School Graduate Computer Careers? (2, Insightful)

Vectronic (1221470) | about 6 years ago | (#24839241)

You're absolutely right, stop teaching tech entirely, train them how to work at McDonalds till they are 35, then start teaching them Tech... cause we all know teaching an old dog new tricks is easy.

Infact, don't even teach them a spoken language until they are 19, would save all that back talking. ...

Yeah, most, probably nearly all wont find a job that suits there skills immediately, but pretty much no one does right out of highschool regardless of what they might have specialized in... but if they dont start in high-school (or earlier) how do you expect them to get into college/university for something they like? "I'd like to be here, seems cool" doesnt get you anywhere if you can't show some sort of competence...

Notice the "enter" and "start"... in your quote, doesnt mean they will get hired being a full-time anything, they have to work their way up just like anyone/other job.

Re:High School Graduate Computer Careers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24839691)

Why does nobody get sarcasm nowadays?

Re:High School Graduate Computer Careers? (0, Troll)

tukang (1209392) | about 6 years ago | (#24839253)

They will probably be hired as interns (see free labor)

Re:High School Graduate Computer Careers? (2, Informative)

syousef (465911) | about 6 years ago | (#24839339)

Are any employers anywhere willing to hire high schoolers in any tech jobs in today's economy?

My first computing job was after I'd dropped out of a 1st year B.Sc. I worked for a year based on just high school certification for less than I could have earnt if I held a job at McDonalds. This was in 1994, and the job involved programming, phone support and on site customer installations. My boss only hired highschoolers so he could pay like that. I was able to get into a B.Sc. in Computing the following year and use that year of underpaid work as my industrial experience year (so in the end I only lost the year I spent on that first degree). So while the pay was awful and I'd have been a fool to stay it actually worked out well for me in the long run. Well 14 years have passed, but I bet my old boss is still engaged in the exact same hiring practices.

Re:High School Graduate Computer Careers? (3, Insightful)

plasmacutter (901737) | about 6 years ago | (#24839391)

Are any employers anywhere willing to hire high schoolers in any tech jobs in today's economy?

Ar any employers anywhere willing to hire college educated individuals in any tech jobs in todays economy?

Re:High School Graduate Computer Careers? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24839651)

Not when they can hire Indians at below minimum wage...

Learn Shell Scripting! (1, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | about 6 years ago | (#24839159)

I feel like being a BOFH and suggesting this one:

Shell Scripting Primer []


But seriously, I've never much liked any of the textbooks I've read, so I can't suggest anything specific. All I can give is one piece of general advice: whatever you do, don't fall into the trap of using Java as your core language. I understand why some schools do so---the ability to ignore such things as pointers and memory management is tempting---but the result is a bunch of students who don't understand memory management or pointers and only know how to program in a language that almost nobody in the industry actually uses, is fundamentally contrary to performance (at least where GUI apps are concerned), and is nearly impossible to force to integrate well with the OS the apps are running on. It's even worse than Pascal was in the 90s---at least Pascal skills transferred fairly easily to C....

If you have access to a Mac lab, you might consider teaching them Objective-C. There seems to be a shortage of good ObjC programmers out there, and the Xcode/Interface Builder combination makes it relatively easy for students to get their hands dirty and start writing interactive visual apps without having to resort to an abortion like Visual Basic or clumsy programmatic UI widget systems like [insert most GUI libraries here]. :-D

Re:Learn Shell Scripting! (3, Informative)

Mr2001 (90979) | about 6 years ago | (#24839681)

don't fall into the trap of using Java as your core language. [...] the result is a bunch of students who [...] only know how to program in a language that almost nobody in the industry actually uses,


If you have access to a Mac lab, you might consider teaching them Objective-C.

You're joking [] , right [] ?

Professor and Pat (5, Interesting)

tkosan (1160327) | about 6 years ago | (#24839175)

I am in the process of writing a series of free ebooks for high school age students which teach the detailed fundamentals of how a computer works: []

The programming books are designed to work with a free development environment called MathRider: []

Some of your students may find these to be useful.


Abandon A+ (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24839185)

I am on the advisory board for the Computer Technology program for a vocational school Maine, and we are trying to suggest moving on from A+ and teaching something else like Cisco or whatever. The market is way too competitive now for anyone with an A+ certification to survive. Example, why take a computer to a repair shop when you can get a brand new tower from Dell for $200? In my area, there are virtually no computer repair shops left. The only one left solely relies on support to companies and providing classes for its income. Really, who needs to know the base address for a parallel port anymore? Even a PS/2 port at that now.

Re:Abandon A+ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24839393)

Wow! Computer tech vocational school in Maine? Blows the mind, man, blows. the. mind.

Re:Abandon A+ (4, Insightful)

Technician (215283) | about 6 years ago | (#24839501)

In my area, there are virtually no computer repair shops left.

That is because the repairs (Windows bugs) have become too complex to effectively troubleshoot and repair. To do the job right requires too much time for which you can't bill. After spending a day attempting to recover a Windows box without a reformat, I learned the level of futility. I now too, reformat, reinstall when working with Windows boxes. The software is too complex to repair after a modern malware attack.

The amount of undocumented crap that can hose the sytem is too great.

Here is a typical reason to reformat instead of repair..
1 factory Windows XP install
1 aftermarket freeware photocopier (Scanner to printer)
1 demo factory loaded photo editor

Photocopier works fine, until the need arose one day to crop a photo to post online.. Tried the default photo editor.. the 30 day trial expired a year ago, would you like to spend $$$ for the full version? No.

Now the photocopier is broken. Attempts to photocopy simply launch the dead photo editor as it hijacked the TWAIN driver and launches upon any scan. Removing the photo editor does not fix the photocopier. Windows reports the photo editor is missing, would you like help searching for it?

How to fix??? How much time would be required to find where the TWAIN driver has been repointed. It's buried in the registery and not documented.. It's reformat to fix. Anything else is a massive waste of time.

The wife doesn't want to lose her settings and email so this has been broken for about 2 years. Photocopier functions and photo editing is done on the Linux box now because it works.

The wife is migrating away from Windows as it decays and she too looks for the tools that work.

To learn to like Linux, simply use Windows for a while.

Re:Abandon A+ (1)

KGIII (973947) | about 6 years ago | (#24839685)

Where at?

Do you really think it is the case... (4, Insightful)

Eric Smith (4379) | about 6 years ago | (#24839207)

that the basics have changed so much recently that four-year-old computer textbooks are obsolete?

Sure, there's always new stuff, but it's more important to have a good grasp of the fundamentals than to know the latest buzzword bingo stuff that probably won't last long anyhow.

Think Python (4, Interesting)

atrus (73476) | about 6 years ago | (#24839215)

Your class topics seem so wide and varied, but if you're going to do an introductory programming class, try this book: [] .

Its a great introductory programming book, focused on Python. Its coming out in print form soon, if that is a requirement.

Re:Think Python (2, Informative)

story645 (1278106) | about 6 years ago | (#24839325)

A good supplement (and stand alone if the students already have some programming experience) is Dive Into Python [] , one of the best python books around. It's free and available in print form. Its' a great intro book 'cause it's really well organized such that the chapters really build on each other for the most part. It's also awesome 'cause the author walks through every example program, explaining what each part does and how it all works together.

Re:Think Python (1)

atrus (73476) | about 6 years ago | (#24839395)

Yes, that would be my second suggestion. It all depends on the depth and level the original poster is taking it to. If you're going to run out of true beginner stuff, it may be advantageous to work in Dive Into Python (maybe select your own pieces into a course reader type of book).

How about two more free texts? (2, Informative)

leftie (667677) | about 6 years ago | (#24839625)

Two more free (as in b... uh... orange soda) one is a python textbook...

"A Byte of Python

"A Byte of Python" is a book on programming using the Python language. It serves as a tutorial or guide to the Python language for a beginner audience. If all you know about computers is how to save text files, then this is the book for you...."

That's one's in 5 different formats and 16 different foreign languages []

The other is "Lessons In Electric Circuits
hosted by ibiblio
A free series of textbooks on the subjects of electricity and electronics []

the real question: should you use a textbook (2, Interesting)

eean (177028) | about 6 years ago | (#24839239)

If your teaching a non-academic programming class, I don't really see the point in using a textbook. Decide on your language and find a good introductory book for it.

Google It (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24839249)

Teach your students how to use Google. Teach them how to use it to find the information they need - how to use it to troubleshoot problems.

Don't bother with physical textbooks: it's a huge cost, and your students will not have access to them in the future when they need the information again.

Even at University level, I do not buy Textbooks for IT related classes - my Google-Fu provides better information anyway.

Also, consider e-books: Many school districts volume purchase access to E-books and Journals - they are an excellent source too.

In short: Google. It may take them a while to learn, but it's a skill that they will be able to use forever - in every subject, not just IT.

ALICE! (2, Insightful)

linhares (1241614) | about 6 years ago | (#24839259)

You can use Randy's Alice [] and teach OO programing really easily.

Science, not engineering (5, Insightful)

LostMyBeaver (1226054) | about 6 years ago | (#24839261)

While I don't think I'm in a good position to recommend specific books, I feel that from my experiences with my nephew (we're quite close) I should add my 2 cents.

While you're in a great position to educate students with regards to computers and in reality, you could even prepare them for A+ and even Cisco or Juniper certification before they leave school, I believe that you should take advantage of the opportunity instead to teach them general computer knowledge and not specialized.

I have worked indirectly with CompTIA and have even assisted in writing books for A+ certification, but I prefer to believe that students taking courses voluntarily in high school should be directed towards higher education in computer science instead of providing them with a certification track that could allow them to go straight to work after high school. I believe that the A+, Network+, CCIE etc... track is great for guys that never got the higher education and want to work their way up the food chain without going to the university at the age of 30.

Don't get me wrong, preparing kids to take a CCIE which would get them $85,000-$125,000 a year the moment they graduate high school sounds great, but if they were able to achieve that by the time they left school, they could achieve so much more with a few years in the University.

Now, if you're teaching in a place where the students might otherwise be doomed to a life working in factories in dead end jobs, or in a place where the percentage of students continuing to higher education is disappointing, you would do them a great favor preparing them for certifications and careers straight out of high school. But if you make it obviously profitable for students to just ditch college and the university because they are certified for jobs right out of high school, then you could in fact be robbing the world of the valuable resources of higher educated scientists.

Teach the students computers as a science at the high school level, not as an engineering skill. If you're teaching at a proper (meaning public) high school as opposed to a vocational school, then computers should be approached in the same way as physics, biology or chemistry.

The students should leave your class knowing where computers come from, they should understand the history of computers. Maybe you should try to teach a limited set of electronics including discreet math (or just general boolean logic), you could even communicate with the local junior college and find out if you can design a credit track where you can use their curriculum to allow students to take college level 1st and 2nd year courses in high school and then take their finals at the college. This is actually how my high school worked and because of that many of the students continued on to New York Institute of Technology with 90% of their first two years of university credits completed.

Well, that was my two cents... I hope you find a good path to follow.

P.S. - if you do end up going down the certification track instead, please choose useful ones. A+ and Network+ are for guys driving silly vans to peoples houses with stupid names like Geek Squad. They're the fat assed, butt crack hanging out of their jeans plumbers of the computer business.

Re:Science, not engineering (1)

Icarium (1109647) | about 6 years ago | (#24839597)

Agreed. I felt like punching something when the summary asked about how to teach kids to pass those certs. Teaching to the test rather than giving a solid grounding in the subject as a whole often leaves you with a bunch of certified idiots.

Yes, some of those certs are useful, but anyone who studies exclusively to get one should honestly look at another career path.

Re:Science, not engineering (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 6 years ago | (#24839821)

... but I prefer to believe that students taking courses voluntarily in high school should be ...

I'm not tying to be obnoxious, but what exactly does that mean? That you have doubts about the truth of the belief, but that you're willfully suppressing them?

Books 4 years old and you're complaining??? (3, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | about 6 years ago | (#24839285)

First of all, how long do you think it takes for a book to get to market? Between 6 months and a year it's still brand spanking new.

Secondly, even in computing good books become classics - Think K&R for C programming.

Thirdly, newer books often just make minor modifications to the old text. Hell some just renumber pages to keep up sales. (Hell some teachers re-use course notes for years in a row at a time with little revision).

Fourthly, 5 year old skills are still useful. Few if any companies are using bleeding edge stuff exclusively.

Then there's the Net which is a great resource. There are a ton of free tutorials on the web for various things.

If you've got access to 4 year old books and the Net, quit whining and looking for the most up to date books. You might as well ask for a pony.

Re:Books 4 years old and you're complaining??? (1)

Psychotria (953670) | about 6 years ago | (#24839503)

If you've got access to 4 year old books and the Net, quit whining and looking for the most up to date books.

I don't think anyone was whining.

Dont bother with the Certs (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 6 years ago | (#24839305)

Certs can be useful in the real world, but skills are better. Use this time to teach them fundamentals, not how to pass an arbitrary test.

Okay here is what you do.. (1)

Layth (1090489) | about 6 years ago | (#24839311)

Go online. Search for some of your local college websites, or perhaps just some colleges with reputable CS programs.
Go to their CS department pages, and search for their introductory CS courses.

Look at the books that they're using!
Take note of 4 or 5, then go to a library or bookstore or something and browse through the titles you can find.

Judge how well each book tackles the material and then pick one.

Wrong place to ask, it would seem (1)

jandersen (462034) | about 6 years ago | (#24839333)

Ye gods, what a load of snotty attitudes people seem to meet this actually very important question with. Have you guys forgotten that you were once beginners that could hardly find the "Any Key" on a keyboard? Even Americans are not born with the genetic code for how to use a computer; not unless evolution has picked up speed recently. Ok, so there are still only a few responses so far, hopefully the quality will improve.

As for your question - I don't really know. I think it is a very important subject, too important to leave to those that can only view things from one perspective. But you are on the right track - teaching based on open source has the potential to teach more than just how to use computers or program; the open source philosophy and method is very similar to the scientific exchange of ideas, something I feel young people learn far too little of these days.

Perhaps, instead of finding an already written book you could base the courses on a combination of hands-on lessons and your own notes + assignments? I suspect that is what I would do - let them learn about HW by taking apart (and re-assembling) a PC, teach them theory as the need arises from what they are doing. For OS theory, start with UNIX/Linux - it is in many ways the "purest" operating system and allows you to see how the hardware is represented in software. UNIX is a very good starting point for any excursions into all kinds of subjects in IT - filesystems, network theory, programming, system administration etc etc.

High school (1)

dj245 (732906) | about 6 years ago | (#24839357)

High school is not a place to train job skills. Rather, it is almost intended to weed out the productive members of society from the unproductive. It is almost a test- if you can go to school regularly and complete coursework, you will probably be reasonably successful in life. You probably have the capacity to go to work regularly and complete your duties there. If you can't do this, chances are very good (though not definite) that your list of life accomplishments has already been completed.

In short, teach how to learn new things and solve problems. The actual material will be again outdated in a couple years anyway. Job training should be done by employers.

FAIL (5, Insightful)

shiftless (410350) | about 6 years ago | (#24839367)

.. the third class should prepare juniors and seniors to enter the workforce and start a career in computers.

The point of high school is not (or should not be) to prepare kids to be mindless worker drones. The point of high school is (or should be) to give them a good, basic education.

Re:FAIL (3, Insightful)

plasmacutter (901737) | about 6 years ago | (#24839411)

.. the third class should prepare juniors and seniors to enter the workforce and start a career in computers.

The point of high school is not (or should not be) to prepare kids to be mindless worker drones. The point of high school is (or should be) to give them a good, basic education.

what a quaint starry-eyed aspiration.

sadly, it hasn't been true since the record was the dominant audio medium.

Back then they taught a good, well rounded education.

This included math, science, and all that other "good stuff", but also things like shop which helped people build and maintain their own furnishings and tools.

Shop went the way of the dodo (I wonder how many lobbies benefitted from that), and now PE and art are following.

Re:FAIL (2, Interesting)

rohan972 (880586) | about 6 years ago | (#24839693)

.. the third class should prepare juniors and seniors to enter the workforce and start a career in computers.

The point of high school is not (or should not be) to prepare kids to be mindless worker drones. The point of high school is (or should be) to give them a good, basic education.

Got to back up plasmacutter here, that is quaint and starry-eyed.

The reason we have so many mindless worker drones is partly ascribable to the schooling system being specifically designed to produce them. Have a read of "The Measurement of Intelligence", by Lewis Madison Terman, it should be enough to cure any scepticism regarding that claim. A look at the role of schooling proposed in "The Communist Manifesto" as a method of bringing about social change ought to challenge your thinking about the purpose of compulsory government schooling too. In case you think I'm just on a right wing rant though, I quote: "Communists have not invented the intervention of society in education; they do but seek to alter the character of that intervention, and to rescue education from the influence of the ruling class." [emphasis mine]

The ruling class (communist or not) always seeks to control the thinking of the population in order to produce people who act for the benefit of the ruling class. The main tool to do this used to be religion, it has now been largely replaced with schooling. The west is largely ruled by government bureaucracy and corporations. School is controlled by government bureaucracy and corporations. We have a population that in general doesn't like to think too much and is very susceptible to propaganda. To think either that school doesn't have a role in producing such people or that it is somehow an accident strikes me as being overly trusting.

If school was really for your benefit and not someone else's, why did it need to be made compulsory? I can understand the desire for free education, but why compulsory?

Re:FAIL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24839715)

"The point of high school is (or should be) to give them a good, basic education."

The point of highschool has since changed since more and more jobs are requiring higher education. Most kids care about surviving and not being poor.

Yup. The word is "math" (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | about 6 years ago | (#24839783)

Or maths for the English. I believe studies in the UK have shown that the A level grade in maths - roughly equivalent to the final year of math in high school - is a better predictor of success in tech jobs than a degree. The reason is blindingly obvious with 6/6 hindsight - your level of math when you start any tech course, including first degree, determines how quickly you will pick things up. By the time you are 18, it's probably too late to learn essential math.

I am eternally grateful to the progressive teachers at my school who ensured that we learned binary, octal and the boolean operations at the age of 12. That's partly because knowing those things got me a summer job in a mainframe facility at the age of 15, but also because, having got that summer job, I could start to understand what it was all about. Being able to read octal kick started me far more than a knowledge of BASIC ever did.

HP has free online classes... (1)

wheels4me (871935) | about 6 years ago | (#24839373) [] Is a great place to learn some basics such as Intro to Word, Excel, Windows, Photoshop, etc. I have an MCSE & MCDBA. The books for those are pricey. Having a cert is better than not having a cert. Give them the goal of getting an A+ cert, or at least training for it. Hardware is the same all over and not vendor specific. And yes, for MacBoy in the wings with a rebuttal, it still has a keyboard, monitor, harddrive, memory & CPU just like every other PC.

Make your own (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24839379)

The best books I've ever used (these were at the college level) were just bound stacks of paper that had been written over the years by the instructor. They weren't officially published by a publisher, but if you know what you're talking about, and you know what's important to you and your class, then you can easily gather enough material to fill a half inch binder with paper.

Not to mention, I still have the books that I'm referring to, and still use them. They make great references.

Most published computers books are entirely too dense and wordy. Just write the important parts down, fill in with lecture and as you go, and you'll be fine. It doesn't sound like you're teaching advanced micro-programming at MIT, you just need something cheap and functional.

Right idea, wrong delivery. (1)

B5_geek (638928) | about 6 years ago | (#24839389)

Why bother with dead-tree versions? There are thousands of FREE online tutorials/guides/how-to/wikis that these kids can learn from. For any of them that don't have 'net access at home, use the schools copiers/printers to give them something to bring home.

Teach them dammit, don't just hand out a book and hope they figure it out. Earn the right to be called a teacher. Perhaps then when the smart ones ask "Why..?" you can really answer.

Don't use textbooks (2, Informative)

supernova_hq (1014429) | about 6 years ago | (#24839419)

As a former High School InfoTech student and current College Programming Student, I really don't find textbooks that useful at all. Truthfully, the only use I ever get out of textbooks (other than reading the questions the teacher's assign) is reading the examples and the using the reference section.

Not only do examples and references exist on the web, but it is SO much easier to use a reference with hyperlinks than to have to jump between pages of a book

If you really need some good ideas I have a list of resourses:
- CodeSyntax [] - Basis syntax for Java,C,Python,etc
- JavaBat [] - different levels of Java puzzles (ajax handles compiling/etc, no software required)
- Eddie's Basic Guide to C Programming []
- ANSI Dictionary [] - unbelievably nice ANSI dictionary, fully cross-referenced.

Consider setting up a wiki-book full of information, labs, excersies and tutorials. This is a computer class after all and information should be easy to find without needing to pack yet ANOTHER heavy book around. To make your job easier, you could allow the students to add stuff to the wiki (log activity of course), even setting up a page where they can add useful websites they've found.

What is "High School" inexactly? (1)

Maelwryth (982896) | about 6 years ago | (#24839431)

Can someone give those of us from a different part of the world a set of ages. High school in NZ means 13yrs to 17yrs. What age are we talking about?

Re:What is "High School" inexactly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24839437)

9-12 grade. generally 14-18yrs. Very similar to NZ

Re:What is "High School" inexactly? (1)

belmolis (702863) | about 6 years ago | (#24839837)

High school in the US ends with grade 12. Students are typically 18 at the end of this year. In some districts, high school consists of grades 9-12. In others, grades 7-9 are housed in a junior high school and high school consists of just grades 10-12. Grade 9 is referred to as "freshman" year and the students are called "freshmen". Grade 10 is "sophomore" year, grade 11 "junior" year, and grade 12 "senior" year.

Documentation, not textbooks (3, Interesting)

holophrastic (221104) | about 6 years ago | (#24839483)

I've never been a fan of textbooks -- especially in scientific fierds. They tend to be notoriously out-of-date, and wildly inaccurate even when new. Too much effort is spent making things seem easy, or otherwise dumbing down the content to the point where it becomes meaningless.

But computer disciplines come with a natural advantage: documentation. All of the avenues that you are exploring have solid documentation. Not only is this documentation accurate, it's almost always up-to-date.

I'd suggest skipping the textbooks and giving your students the real experience. Teach them how to handle reams and reams of documentation across multiple avenues.

The good thing, from your side, is that you don't have to give them the most complicated advanced stuff off the top. There are a lot of small steps to be taken with any documentation -- from the equivalent of a "hello world" program and configuring routers all the way up to more complicated yet still manageable aspects like protocols and cross-interactions.

So I'd suggest that you select a few disciplines as you have, grab real live official documentation -- lots of it -- classify them according to complexity -- and by complexity I mean the requirement of additional working systems -- and take your students through actually doing something small.

Small things can be incredibly simple when you read the instructions. Documentation is nothing more than that. I can think of no better skill-set in the computer world than to gather three-thousand pages of documentation on your topic, locate the six pages that apply to your current project, follow them precisely, and then explore their surroundings to see the magic possibilities of yoru new-found power.

That kind of skill easily propegates itself as one bit of knowledge allows you to explore the next. And since it's real actual documentation, it's all 100% (well, let's pretend) correct and useful. Your students will be able to legitimately list things that they've done with little more than quality supervision.

high school, right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24839547)

1. what would be best to learn for sys admins.
It's highschool, right? We hear day in and day out that noone has time to teach the 3-R's any more. Might I suggest Algebra and Trig? They can learn sys admin in vocational school... Yeah, I know, your course is in computers, but still. Highschool is for learning basic general education.

2. I'm currently finishing up a PhD in engineering at Berkeley, and I haven't used a course text in a couple of years. The profs have their own notes/articles/papers/etc they want to work from.

Are you sure you've got the right focus? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24839591)

If your goal is to get these kids 'ready for the workforce' as juniors or seniors in highschool, you may want to focus on data entry and technical writing, or perhaps following pre-made guides to fix/replace known hardware and software problems.

Realistically though, you are not going to prepare them for the workforce at this point if you're trying to teach them about, "hardware, operating systems, networking, security, and more." That is, frankly, remedial, and outside of certain scopes, the average worker does not use it at all.

The only ones able to go into the workforce at that point will have already taught themselves, and you can't easily 'teach' interest.

As for certifications - most of which are not actually worth anything in the real world except when comparing lists of identically-qualified individuals for a call or initial interview. Not useless, but not great. You'll still need experience to even attempt to compete, unless it's an entry level job. Do not teach these if you can help it.

Now, let's step back a bit. What is your real focus?

Is it REALLY to get them ready to go to work, to have marketable skills? If so, your best bet is - sadly - to find a book on excel and/or powerpoint. They don't need a copy for themselves - in fact, they shouldn't have one. Just make sure they know how to google/use the built in help, because it's more valuable to teach them how to find info, than how a single version of a single app works. Half your class will likely be bored because it's too easy, and the other half will never understand if someone else doesn't show them exactly what to type. ... however, powerpoint and excel go a long way in almost any office position. There's many books on learning Office apps, so take your pick there.

On the other hand, if your goal is to get them ready to go to college and become involved in the IT industry post-degree, that's better - but harder. I would recommend picking a scripting language and show them the basic concepts you can find in any "Intro to Computer Science"-style book, regardless of the language it uses. Perl and Ruby might be a good choices, as they're somewhat forgiving. Granted, you may want to even try JavaScript, so all your examples/homework can (easily) be performed in a web page and thus graphical and more interactive. The downside to all of this is - it'd probably be difficult to find a book to help you out. I can't think of one that would give you a lesson plan. You'd be tasked with doing much of the legwork yourself.

Still, I think that would be the most valuable route.

Foundations are critical (1)

thogard (43403) | about 6 years ago | (#24839607)

I figure less than 1 out 100 people have what it takes to be a very good programmer. The foundations for them will be different than the foundations needed for other students and the wrong ones can create a sort of brain damage that will take years to unlearn and I'm not sure some bad thought processes can ever be unlearned.

I would start the 1st week or two off with a very basic system of what the computer is doing.... i.e. moving numbers around. Go find a computer book from the 1950s for ideas on how to do that. Next build on the ideas that all software builds on complex layers of other software. Show them assembly code (but not x86 ick), basic, C, logo, and lisp for a start. Explain why they all have their uses and see how they react. Show them that the simplest problem involves many levels of depths and then explain how different groups each have their own area like networking, cpu design, programers, operators and maintenance coders.

For intro to programming, the IDE makes more of a difference than the language. Its one reason VB was used a while back since it had an easy to learn interface and they could write simple programs that did simple things and focus on that and not how to get something compiled. Most of todays IDEs are so full featured they can be hard to use for the level you are looking at. Just try not to pick a language that encourages programming brain damage (like Basic in all of its forms)

This may sound stupid but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24839665)

Let them make their own! Since basic computing is just that, basic, why not let them find their own examples on the Internet and in the library. Make it part of their grade to find good examples of whatever topic you are teaching.

Part of a good basic foundation for computer sciences should be learning the skill to find information on topics you aren't familiar with.

I'm in my 40's now and without that basic skill I'd still be writing COBOL code on a VAX somewhere. This business changes too fast to teach any specific language or technology to be useful in their futures.

For OO programming (1)

Fjodor42 (181415) | about 6 years ago | (#24839689)

While there has been extensive debate here, over whether to teach Java or not, I have found that if one wishes to teach/learn object-oriented programming, not only does Java do a good Job, but Objects First with Java - A Practical Introduction using BlueJ [] by Barnes & Kölling really drives through the concept of classes and how they relate to objects. This is done through BlueJ, and in that regard, BlueJ is actually a very nice tool. One should not fail to mention to the students, though, that for real coding, emacs, vi, eclipse, <insert favourite editor/IDE here> would be favourable, but for a basic understanding of the nature of OO, BlueJ is great.

Unix Administrator Guide (1)

ulor (1355759) | about 6 years ago | (#24839695)

This book has been useful to me in the past and has quite a decent range of various subjects. It might be a bit technical for some high school students, but in an academic setting w/ some hand holding most could do it.

Re:Unix Administrator Guide (1)

ulor (1355759) | about 6 years ago | (#24839733)

Or the Linux Administrator's Guide I guess is more current. I havent read it, but I did read the Unix one.

Scan last year's books, and put 'em..... (1)

crhylove (205956) | about 6 years ago | (#24839707)

Scan last year's books, or whatever supplemental material you may want to add, and put it in a pdf and onto an sd card and into a Nintendo DS.

Cost: $100 per student for all books, updated, with additional supplemental materials every semester.

They get: One small book to carry with everything of theirs in a backpack, all their information bookmarked or copy pasted clearly with a stylus.

I get: One less thing to worry about at the PTA meeting.

HtDP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24839709)

Hands down, the best introduction to programming I've encountered is How to Design Programs [] . The full text is available online, though you can buy a copy from MIT Press if you really want.

Nominally, HtDP uses Scheme, but it's such a tiny subset of the language that it barely needs the name. Instead, the book focuses on the fundamentals of programming. HtDP's philosophy is data-centric. Instead of directly presenting recursion, for example, it presents recursive data structures, from which recursive functions naturally follow.

Last year, I was a TA for a first-year CS course which used this book; the course was phenomenally successful (as always). On the other end of the spectrum, HtDP has been used successfully in high schools and middle schools [] as well.

This may seem stupid but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24839751)

Let them write their own! Make it a part of their grade to find examples of the topic you are teaching from the internet, the library or the pile of old books you have.

Your classes seem to be teaching "Basic Computing" and part of the basics is how to find information on topics you are unfamiliar with. Without that basic skill, I'd still be programming in COBOL on the last dying VAX in the city.

Maybe buy a few good books and make a library they can reference rather than 100 of the same book.

an other idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24839763)

For your lower level intro to programing class your own notes and information from web pages that you Copy, paste and print, Should get do fairly well. Yes you could get a "Class Set" of a single book but as for budget your understanding and ability to find the odd answers to strange questions, along with a set of Highlighters/ markers/ Color Pencils to hand trace code with would be more useful.

For the advanced classes a bunch of random books on different languages you have access to more complicated topics seems to work the best for a advanced classroom situation where students are possibly more self guided as they surpass your skill level or have a basic handle of general computer programing and algorithms. So you might have a few A+, MSCE, Linux, etc books in the class for them to take a look at and decide what interests them. I would talk to Local Collages about what they expect there computer students to know and at what level, So you can try and keep the amount of repeated teaching to a minimum. It is nice when your teacher tells you that you should be in a CS 266 Class because you know linked lists, and sorting algorithms, indeed of taking the CS 160 class where you Learn If, then else, case and variable types. And for schools outside your area they should have a portfolio of programs that show what they know so they can go to an adviser and get into the proper classes at that school, hopefully with little repeats.

That type of format for a advanced class also allows for you to point those who are not expecting to go to collage (Something that you should always encourage that they do) to be more focused on certifications. I would also see what kind of hoops would have to be gone threw for a student to take a certification at a local testing site, and what if any help the school district can help with the financial aspects (One of the big reasons students are not continuing to collage)

I googled 'free computer books' ... (3, Informative)

sydbarrett74 (74307) | about 6 years ago | (#24839771)

... and found hundreds of links. For the cost of printing out a PDF, you can give each student his/her own text. If you contract with a local Kinko's or printing shop, you could have these printed and bound for minimal cost -- far cheaper than the $40-50 that a computer book would cost at Barnes and Noble.

excuse me but... (1)

v(*_*)vvvv (233078) | about 6 years ago | (#24839791)

Any textbooks we use would need to cover quite a breadth of material, such as PC hardware, operating systems, networking, security, and more.

And more? Either you are only going to touch on each topic ever so briefly, or the whole course is misguided. There is no way anyone is going to learn anything useful, let alone anything that would get them hired, by learning all of these topics at once. They all deserve their own class, and there are plenty of books on specific topics.

Certification tests usually come with their own set of guides for teachers.

I have a suggestion (3, Interesting)

2Bits (167227) | about 6 years ago | (#24839809)

If you are a high school teacher, may I put in my suggestion here?

For me, if you really want to teach about programming (and I think teaching high schoolers to get certification is plain wrong), a high school teacher should inspire students to want to go into that field (or other scientific fields, as a matter of fact). High schoolers can learn the language syntax just fine, any language, and do the debugging too. You can give an introduction to most languages, and they will pick up and do it. The issue here to make them pick up the interest in doing it, and that's the hard part.

I remember when I was at high school, we had that programming course (optional class), where the teacher was teaching us programming Logo on those 8086 machines without hard disk. We needed to have a boot floppy to boot up, then another floppy for loading the program. The teacher thought he was God, we were a class of 40, and the class lasted one hour and half. He refused to create more boot disks so that everyone can boot at the same time, he just had one, gave it to one student at a time, and waited behind the student until the machine boot up, and passed the floppy to the next student. By the time the last student finished booting up, the class is almost over. None of us had computer at home, that's the only place we had access to computer programming.

Not only that, his moto was "Can't do", you can't do this, you can't do that. A few of us came up with some nice tricks to do things, and he threatened to fail us if we don't program his and his only way. For example, to draw a polygon, you must use his method, can't have anything else. We used the math learned in high school, including sin(), cosin(),etc, to program some fun stuffs, like creating a cube and move it inside a bigger cube, with proper perspective and angle and all that. 3D stuff. Yeah, you can do this with just high school math. Guess what, we would have failed the class, if we didn't accept to draw stupid picture by creating points and link the points together with stupid lines. All he wanted was the pictures so that he can print them, stick them on the walls, so that the principal could see his "achievements".

In that class of 40, all of us hated programming by the end. Only two got into computer science at University, I was one, and that's because I wanted to program a computer that can talk to me, like HAL in "2001 : Space Odyssey" (yeah, I read that book at the time).

A high school teacher can do much more than that, and don't underestimate the intellect of high schoolers, if you can rouse their interests.

I think a competitive project between teams would be great, you not only teach programming, you also teach teamwork at the same time. You don't need fancy textbooks, just some introductory materials. Don't limit their imagination, encourage them to go beyond what you teach.

In contrast, we had a great math teacher. Yeah, Mr. Belleau, if you are reading this, I'd like to say, thank you, although it's more than 20 years ago now.

Do you want good programmers or trained monkeys? (1)

RichardCochrane (1355795) | about 6 years ago | (#24839933)

I think, based on the books I have ordered for my office over the past 2 years, that greater value is had in teaching broader skills that are not nailed down to a particular language or technology since they tend to become out of date so quickly. My thinking is that a good programmer can program in (almost) any language, so there's more help to students to become better programmers than simply more knowledgeable C# or Java programmers. Some of the excellent books I've read include Dreaming in Code (providing a great understanding of why software development is hard, as well as providing an insight to the IT "heroes" that we should know about, i.e. Donald Knuth, Guido Rossum, Mitch Kapor, etc.), Code Complete (great all-round software development) and Joel on Software (for an assortment of IT-related discussion including a look at unicode). These books are fun to read and very interesting although Code Complete IS somewhat more technical and serious than the other two. I wish we had gone through such books when I was at school, but perhaps they would have been over my head at the time. I hope this helps, but use it or don't use it as you will :-)
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