Bill MacKenty

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Sabbatical Update 1

Posted in Personal Teaching Diary on 31 - August 2023 at 03:05 PM (3 weeks ago). 49 views.

I'm currently on sabbatical and have been deeply immersed in professional development and research. I intend to post these updates about once a month, sharing interesting learnings.

Connections and collaborations

The ACM is the Association of Computing Machinery. It’s the world's largest educational and scientific computing society.

I’ve been reading, parsing and communicating with members of SIGCSE - the ACM’s special interest group for computer science education. This learning has been deeply satisfying. I look forward to summarizing and presenting “best practices of K-12 computing education”. Needless to say, ChatGPT, AI, and large language models have captured the attention of this community.

Core learning tools

Moving on to the classroom tools, I've been focusing on making Git and Visual Studio Code (VSCode) more accessible for our students. VScode is a code editor and Git is the industry standard version control system that helps keep track of changes in code amongst many people. With the new materials I’ve developed, I'm confident our students will be committing and pushing code like they were born to do it - and be better prepared to work with modern tools in University and the real-world. I should also mention Git is a superb platform to use as a portfolio of student work and learning.

Modernizing PHP

In my continued quest for modernization, I've dived into the world of PHP Object-Oriented Programming (OOP), MVC (model-view-controller) architecture, and strictly typed PHP. This will enable our students to be more industry-ready and familiar with modern development practices ( all of which are transferable between languages). PHP has been in the top 10 of all programming languages for more than a decade, and is still used by about 78% of all websites in the world. I first learned PHP 20 years ago, so this is a welcome and refreshing upskill. Next up: javascript, rust, and python.

Working with the IB

As for my collaboration with the International Baccalaureate (IB), I'm still deeply involved in fine-tuning the new computer science curriculum. While I can't spill all the beans just yet, I'm eagerly awaiting the day I can share these substantial updates with you.

Obi-Wan MacKobi

A personal update. We’ve added a new member to our household: Obi-Wan, a 9-week-old chocolate Labrador. He’s both a delight and a handful, keeping me active when I’m not buried in research or code. He’s snoring at my feet as I write this; a little bundle of love.

The future

The next big chunk of learning for me is machine learning, artificial intelligence, and building a large language model that can run locally at my school (does not need an internet connection to work). The discussions I’ve seen at every level of the IB, ACM, and in the popular press has reinforced in me the need to capture and use this technology effectively for our benefit. Lot’s more to say about this.