Author Archives: SteveG

About SteveG

Dr. Gordon is currently the chair of the SIGHPC Education chapter and the lead for the XSEDE project education program. He is also the Senior Education Lead at the Ohio Supercomputer Center.

Computer Science Teachers’ Association of Ireland

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Ríomheol Oidí na hÉireann

Computer Science Teachers’ Association of Ireland

Stephen Murphy

The Computer Science Teachers’ Association of Ireland (CSTAI) was founded in November 2017. To date, we have over 420 members and 36 of the 40 Leaving Certificate Computer Science pilot schools have joined.

The CSTAI offers a free collection of resources for Computer Science, Coding, Digital Media, Computing and IT/ICT on a Google Drive where the members can access, download and modify for their classes needs. Examples of such resources are PowerPoints, Notes, worksheets and videos.

These resources cover from the early primary level to Junior Certificate (GCSE-equivalent) Coding/ Digital Media to Leaving Certificate (A-Level equivalent) Computer Science.

The Junior Certificate coding short course aims to develop the student’s ability to formulate problems logically; to design, write and test code through the development of programs, apps, games, animations or websites; and, through their chosen learning activities, to learn about computer science [1].

There are 3 strands to the Junior Certificate Coding:

Strand 1: Computer science introduction.

Students explore the range of uses computers have in today’s world and learn to understand the hardware and basic software which operates them. This includes learning to write, test and evaluate code [1].

Strand 2: Let’s get connected.

This strand deepens the student’s understanding of the computer as a communications tool through the storage and manipulation of data. Students also have the opportunity to identify, research, present and receive feedback on a topic or challenge in computer science that inspires them [1].

Strand 3: Coding at the next level.

In this strand, students are introduced to more complex levels of coding where they can demonstrate their understanding through documentation, discussion and feedback [1].

An example worksheet for Junior Certificate Coding is an exercise that has the student enter the appropriate code to complete a number of different Python loops. The worksheet is divided into 4 sections. Section 1.1 helps students understand the syntax behind a for-loop. Section 1.2 focuses on students working backwards from output to input. Section 1.3 allows students to practice de-bugging their code to become more resilient when fixing their code. Section 1.4 has more advanced problems for higher-order thinking.

Other examples of topics include a computer science theory section, HTML/ CSS/JavaScript sections and embedded systems.

For the primary level, there are coding examples using mainly Scratch examples that have students create their own animations. There are blocks of Scratch lessons available to our members for continuity.

The Junior Certificate Short Course in Digital Media literacy aims to extend and refine students’ ability to use digital technology, communication tools, and the internet creatively, critically and safely, in support of their development, learning and capacity to participate effectively in social and community life [2].

There are four strands to this short course:

Strand 1: My digital world.

In this strand, students explore how and why to use digital technologies; investigate the ethical and legal issues around downloading media from the internet and develop an understanding of online safety for themselves and others [2].

Strand 2: Following my interests online.

In this strand, students will explore how digital texts are published and their various purposes; they will compare how similar information is presented in different formats and explore how to represent information using digital imagery [2].

Strand 3: Checking the facts.

In this strand, students will investigate how the choice of digital media influences and impacts on consumer patterns and explore the notion of bias and influence online [2].

Strand 4: Publishing myself.

In this strand, students investigate online rights and risks, demonstrate good standards and protocols for online sharing of information and learn to cite and reference accurately when using online sources [2].

An example project for Junior Certificate Digital Media Literacy is a web quest. Students will research, create and publish a website about a topic without the need to code a website. This project is very flexible and allows multiple learning outcomes to be completed. A guide to a web quest is shown below.

The Leaving Certificate Computer Science resources are currently being created and aligned with our specification. In order to fill the gap that currently exists, the CSTAI has made links with other Computer Science teacher organisations in England, Northern Ireland, America, Australia and New Zealand to provide resources for Irish teachers.

The CSTAI places a strong emphasis on the Irish Language and offers a set of hundreds of technical computing terminology translated into Irish.

One of the main reasons the CSTAI was established was to promote sharing of ideas and resources between teachers. The resources are free to take with no obligation to contribute but we do ask if you have something appropriate to give, you do share it with us to help the CSTAI grow.

Overall, we have collected hundreds of coding, computer science and digital media examples, exercises and presentations that are shared and organized by topic to facilitate easy access by our members.  The graphic below shows the top level organization of our collection.

If you would like to get involved in this exchange of teaching resources, please email:

You can also follow us on social media:


[1] Junior Certificate Short course in Coding.

[2] Junior Certificate Short Course in Digital Media Literacy

Some example materials:

Junior Certificate Digital Media DIY Webquest

CSTAI Screen grabs

Junior Certificate For loops Python




HPC Badges: XSEDE Enters the Micro-Certification Arena

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HPC Badges: XSEDE Enters the Micro-Certification Arena

Jeff Sale
Learning Design Technologist
San Diego Supercomputer Center, UCSD

Micro-certification is a means by which professionals may demonstrate their knowledge and expertise in a particular field and, if successful, receive a low-cost credential without having to complete an expensive and time-consuming degree program. In particular, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) are becoming a popular way of obtaining micro-certification because of their low-cost and their availability, and MOOCs such as Coursera, EdX, Udemy, Lynda and many others are finding ways to make micro-certification a profitable endeavor.

Courses typically require somewhere between a few hours to a few weeks to complete. Courses are often offered for free, with the option of paying a reasonably-affordable fee to obtain a credential upon course completion. Because most micro-certification courses are delivered online, means for assessing expertise are typically done with multi-question exams which may be assessed either fully- or semi-automatically. Assessments requiring the learner to demonstrate practical hands-on applications are less common since they typically require the involvement of an expert to adequately assess the learner’s performance. However, a ‘peer review’ approach, in which fellow classmates are tasked with performing the assessment based on a provided rubric, is becoming more viable as a means of assessing performance for hundreds or thousands of students at a time.

The concept of offering a ‘badge’ as a preferred form of micro-certification derives from the popularity of badges in a variety of organizations and professions. Most of us are familiar with earning badges as children through organizations such as the Girl or Boy Scouts. Badges are also becoming more familiar and appealing to younger generations who played video games in which badges are offered as a reward for completing a quest or challenge. In fact, badges are part of a larger movement in organizational performance improvement called “gamification”. Badges are also common at the professional level as a way of encouraging respect and acknowledgement of an individual’s authority, such as in law enforcement (e.g. a Sheriff’s badge) and the military (e.g. a ‘badge of honor’).

As such, badges are finding a place within the corporation or professional organization as a way of more effectively engaging employees. Badges are often used as a way of ‘on-boarding’ for new employees, and as a way of certifying staff for having completed employee training programs such as ethics in the workplace or cybersecurity training.

XSEDE (eXtreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment) is the latest incarnation of a more than 30-year old high-performance computing (HPC) community whose mission is to “substantially enhance the productivity of a growing community of scholars, researchers, and engineers through access to advanced digital services that support open research and coordinate and add significant value to the leading cyberinfrastructure resources funded by the NSF and other agencies.” XSEDE has identified the need to offer micro-certification with badging for a variety of technical areas within HPC.

Currently, XSEDE offers badge certification for OpenACC, MPI, OpenMP, Data Visualization, and Data Science. These badges are based on tutorial material from a series of XSEDE webinars consisting of 1-2 day online presentations including a considerable amount of hands-on content. XSEDE badges offer micro-certification for three different skill levels, Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. The Beginner level typically consists of a low-stakes multiple-question assessment offering multiple attempts and no time limit. The Intermediate and Advanced levels will include a more challenging assessment consisting of 10-15 questions with a limited number of attempts and a time limit plus a practical assessment based on ‘real-world’ applications in that particular technical field.

The XSEDE HPC Badges are offered through the Mozilla Open Badges program. The Open Badges “Backpack” currently hosts nearly one million badges earned from professionals around the world. However, the process of submitting a Badge for inclusion in the Mozilla Open Badges can be difficult and and time-consuming so XSEDE has chosen to offer its badges using the Moodle learning management system which provides Open Badge support built-in to their interface. To date, badges have been awarded to dozens of users within the XSEDE community, and the process of determining how these badges might serve to validate the learner’s competence when looking for employment is currently being evaluated. You may attempt an XSEDE HPC Badge by visiting the XSEDE HPC Training Portal.



Workforce, Education, and Training at SC16

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If you are attending SC16 in Salt Lake City, you will find a number of workshops, Birds of a Feather (BOF), and technical sessions relating to workforce, education, and training topics.  We have assembled a list of those sessions as a guide to those who are interested in those topics.  Of course we especially would like you to attend our chapter BOF on Tuesday November 15th at 12:15 PM where we will lead a discussion about the education and training issues important to you, and ask for your feedback in shaping future chapter activities.

One thing to note:  you must add workshops to your registration.  BOF’s and other sessions are open to all other registrants.  You should also check out the HPC Impact showcase sessions throughout the conference for presentations on the impacts of HPC on a variety of industry and research applications.

Here are the other sessions we found of note in schedule order.

Workshop: Women in HPC at SC16

Sunday 9am-5.30pm: Workshop: Diversifying the HPC Community

Location: 251-D

The fifth international Women in HPC workshop will be held at SC16, Salt Lake City, USA. The workshop will address a variety of issues relevant to both employers and to employees, specifically to identify particular challenges faced by women, outline opportunities and strategies for broadening participation, and share information on the steps being taken to encourage women into the field and retain a diverse workforce.

 Education/Career Keynote and Pitch-It Workshop

Sunday November 13 1:30 – 2:15 PM

Location: 260

This is the kickoff section for the student program.  The keynote will be delivered by Wen-Mei Hwu, University of Illinois.

Workshop: Third SC Workshop on Best Practices for HPC Training

Monday, November 14, 9:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Location: 155-F

The SC16 workshop will be used to highlight the results of collaborative efforts during 2016 to develop and deploy HPC training, to identify new challenges and opportunities, and to foster new, enhanced and expanded collaborations to pursue during 2017.

Workshop: EduHPC Workshop

Monday, November 14, 2:00 – 5:30 PM

Location: 251-E

The EduHPC Workshop is devoted to the development and assessment of educational resources for undergraduate education in High Performance Computing (HPC) and Parallel and Distributed Computing (PDC). This workshop focuses on the state-of-the-art in HPC and PDC education, by means of both contributed and invited papers from academia, industry, and other educational and research institutions.

Workshop: HPC Systems Professional Workshop

Monday, November 14, 2:00 – 5:30 PM

Location: 155-F

In order to meet the demands of HPC researchers, large-scale computational and storage machines require many staff members who design, install, and maintain these systems. These HPC systems professionals include system engineers, system administrators, network administrators, storage administrators, and operations staff who face problems that are unique to HPC systems. This workshop is designed to share solutions to common problems, provide a platform to discuss upcoming technologies, and present state of the practice techniques so that HPC centers will get a better return on their investment, increase performance and reliability of systems, and researchers will be more productive.

BOF: SIGHPC Education Chapter Meeting

Tuesday, November 15, 12:15 – 1:15 PM

Location:  355-D

This BOF will bring together those interested in promoting HPC education through the formal and informal activities of the chapter.  The session will begin with an open discussion from participants to solicit their ideas and feedback on chapter activities followed by a review of current activities and plans for the chapter in the coming year.

Panel:  HPC Workforce Development: How Do We Find Them, Recruit Them, and Teach Them to Be Today’s Practitioners and Tomorrow’s Leaders?

Tuesday, November 15, 3:30 – 5:00 PM

Location: 255-BC

This panel session is focused on gathering recommendations on mechanisms to expand the Cyberinfrastructure (CI) workforce via formal and informal education and training opportunities in CI, Computational and Data-enabled Science and Engineering (CDS&E), Data Science and related areas. The panel members have been selected to provide and elicit fresh, new, and controversial perspectives on strategies to prepare a larger and more diverse CI workforce that can advance research, discovery, scholarly studies, and economic competitiveness through the application of computational and data-enabled tools, resources, and methods across all sectors of society.

BOF: How to Build Diverse Teams for More Effective Research

Tuesday, November 15, 5:15 – 7:00PM

Location: 250-C

Most of us recognize that diverse teams are good for productivity and output. But do you know how to improve diversity and build a more inclusive environment? Have you ever heard of unconscious bias, stereotype threat, or imposter syndrome? Do you ever feel like you aren’t good enough to be in the community or feel like a ‘fraud’? This BoF will discuss the real effects of these three topics on the workplace, providing the audience with an introduction to each theme, how they may affect you, and how they impact employers, employees, advisors, managers, or your peers.

Panel: Experiencing HPC for Undergraduates: Graduate Student Perspective

Wednesday, November 16, 10:30AM – 12:00 PM

Location: 250-D

This session will be held as a panel discussion. Current graduate students, some of whom are candidates for the Best Student Paper Award in the Technical Papers program at SC16, will discuss their experiences in being a graduate student in an HPC discipline. They will also talk about the process of writing their award-nominated papers.

BOF: Women in HPC: Intersectionality

Wednesday, November 16, 12:15 – 1:15 PM

Location: 155-C

There are many groups that are under-represented in the HPC community, including women and African-Americans, but particularly poorly represented are those that fall into the intersection of two or more underrepresented groups. In this BOF, we hear the stories of women of different minority backgrounds in the HPC field, and the complex intersection between gender, race, sexual orientation and more, and how this has shaped their experience in HPC. We ask these women for their advice on making the HPC field more inclusive for people of all backgrounds.

Invited Talk: Bias: From Overt to Unconscious and What Research Suggests Can Be Done

Wednesday, November 16, 3:30 – 4:15 PM

Location: Ballroom-EFGHIJ

When my book Nobel Prize Women in Science was published in 1993, the legal barriers against women in academic science seemed to be fading into the past. But now we realize that subtle barriers are also difficult to deal with. In my talk, I’ll give some examples, past and present, and describe recent research on the subject. In particular, I will draw on what I’ve learned from the book that Dr. Rita Colwell, former director of the National Science Foundation, and I are writing about women in science.

BOF: Best Practices in Mentoring Undergraduate Research in Supercomputing

Wednesday, November 16, 5:15 – 7:00 PM

Location: 355-D

We present, discuss, and refine best practices on mentoring undergraduate researchers. We define “best” practices as those which 1)encourage student interest in high-performance computing, 2)produce high quality results, and 3)build student interest in the field. While some might cite the breakdown of Dennard scaling as the largest challenge facing the HPC community, scaling parallel computing education is both a more alarming and challenging issue.

Working to Create a Knowledgeable Workforce

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The SIGHPC education chapter is seeking to build a community of educators and professionals that recognize the need for a workforce with skills in modeling and simulation, data analysis, and visualization to address pressing problems in science, engineering, social sciences, and humanities. There are potentially many pathways to that expertise: through formal courses and programs at our universities, through the training efforts of government sponsored projects across a wide range of agencies and departments, through the training efforts of community organizations, and through a variety of self-pace online materials.

The chapter hopes to bring attention to all of these opportunities by sponsoring a number of activities. Our seminar series features webinars by education and training leaders from both academic and non-academic institutions. They detail their own experiences and activities in building education and training programs for those seeking expertise across a wide variety of computational science topics. Those webinars are broadcast live using Google Hangouts on Air and are recorded for later viewing on YouTube.

Our resources links provided on the SIGHPC Education web pages ( point to a variety of educational models, exercises, and course materials and to a list of available training modules, webinar recordings, and lecture materials on a wide range of technical topics. We have established a review mechanism for adding to this list of resources and welcome suggestions for other materials to review and add to the list.

The forums associated with this site should provide another way for the community to engage in discussions about education and training activities, strategies, and examples that contribute to the mission of the chapter. Please take the time to register for the forums and participate in those discussions.

We welcome your comments and suggestions for other chapter sponsored activities that will contribute to our education and training mission.

Steven Gordon