Video Resources

This page compiles movie and online resources suggested by members of the ACSE mailing list. The purpose of these resources are to help supplement the curriculum in the Computer Science and Computer Engineering courses.
I have tried to divide them up into either Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or general (apply to both Computer Science and Computer Technology), and within those groupings I have put them into themes relating to parts of the course.
Please feel free to add to this list and/or add comments or rearrange the resources so they make more sense. I have not personally viewed/used all of these resources so I make no claim to know how to best categorize them.
I have also added some comments and resources related to obtaining them and (the legalities of) showing them to your students.
…Erin Lester

General Computers
  • Station X – The Code Breakers of Bletchley Park – The complete Series (1999). This doco is GREAT to show if you are working on an encryption unit, great way to set up a mini spy-game within the class. This creates what I call the WHY of the curriculum. We are really good at the how, and often a little weak on the why!
  • Triumph of the Nerds Vol 1: Impressing Their Friends (1996). Another docco narrated by one of the original Apple dudes about the birth of the personal computer and Apple. Docos can be long and boring, so pre-pick how much to show or when.
  • Hackers – Wizards of the Electronic Age (1986). Have not seen this, but someone mentioned it to me once, doco stuff.
  • Frontline: Dot Con (2001). Frontline report on the dot com bust and why it happened
  • Frontline: Growing Up Online (2008). Report about kids growing up online, YouTube, that sort of thing.
  • NOVA: The Great Robot Race (2006). A program looking at the race to build robotic cars that drive themselves for space exploration/defense.
  • NOVA: Beyond Human (2001). A program looking at nanobots inside the human body. Obviously theoretical. Combines real footage with computer animation, so also a cool use of computer animation…
  • Enigma (2001). This movie, which is apparently not a GOOD movie, quasi-fictionalizes the stuff about Bletchley Park and the code breakers of WW2.
  • I, Robot (2004). Movie. Will Smith is never a bad way to get kids to pay attention in class. Requires discussion of the “three rules” of artificial intelligence/robotics ahead of time in order to get anything out of it. Let kids know where the 3 rules came from. This and many of the movies that are about to follow lead to some really heavy discussions about ethics and computing, creating life, what is life, the dangers that AI could pose and so on. Discussion papers based on one of these make for a great way to meet expectations in the new strand D of the Comp Tech curriculum, and a good way to START a course! Yes I said START! As students are being added and withdrawn, why not watch a movie and have a discussion to get to know each other?
  • A.I. (2001). Movie. Think Pinocchio as a robot. Pass the Kleenex, this one really gets to me as a new mommy….
  • Hackers (1995). Movie. An old one, and a little silly, but Angelina Jolie is never a bad way to get kids to pay attention.
  • The Net (1995). Movie. Identity theft. Hard to believe this is already 14 years old, still a current and growing issue.
  • Enemy of the State (1998). Movie. Will Smith, Gene Hackman. All about surveillance, great lead-in to research projects or discussions about internet and military surveillance and stuff like Echelon(SIGINT), Tempest and Carnivore. Want to know more? Check out the following:
  • Tron (1982). Movie. Yes, incredibly old, but it is hysterical and is used to discuss what a HUGE breakthrough in computing it was to put live action and computer graphics into a movie, AND you will find that a LOT of hardware ideas are represented in the movie, and your students will NEVER forget them after this! An excellent companion to this movie is a children’s book called “Katie and the Computer” by Fred D’Ignazio (1979) which tells the tale of a young girl falling into the computer and trying to find her way out again. (she gets shot out of a colour cannon in the CRT to spoil the ending). I once had a group of students write short stories of a similar style and they found it REALLY hard to make the technical concepts understandable at that level, and was a GREAT learning experience, the girls especially loved it!
  • Terminator (1984), Terminator 2 (1991) and/or Terminator 3 (2003). Movie. I had a student once tell me he could not think of ANY possible negative thing that could spring from artificial intelligence. Umm, this gave him nightmares, so do be careful with any of these. OK, they gave me nightmares too when I was younger….
  • War Games (1983). Movie. Good for discussions of where we were 20 years ago, and where we are now, the development of the internet as a military support etc.
  • 2001 Space Odyssey (1968) and/or 2010 Space Odyssey (1984). Movie. The whole thing about IBM being one letter off from HAL and the computer killing everyone – great fun – lots of nightmares so use discretion and with older students only.
  • Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999). Movie. The true/untrue story of Apple vs IBM and all the fun that went into it! Who stole what from whom, who will make millions first. Better than an episode of the O.C.
  • Battlestar Gallactica .TV show. Without watching in class, start a discussion about the “creation” of the Cylon race, AI and all that stuff.
  • Bits and Bytes. Old-school TV show, I actually found an episode on YouTube. We watched for laughs and started the “If Billy Van Can, then So Can I” club. Kids were shouting back at the screen and commenting about their parents. Generational bonding moments galore!


  • (Nova) The Machine that Changed the World (1999 – A rather dry/factual telling of the development of the computer but a tonne of info in that one)
    • Notes:
      • For more information see
      • Book companion – Dream Machine: Exploring the Computer Age (Paperback) by Jon Palfreman (Author), Doron Swade (Author), available on
      • repackaging of this video into a short American History – “The Modern Marvels: The Creation of the Computer” (2005), available as a DVD on
  • The Triumph of the Nerds (3 volume series on the history of Silicon Valley – the first PC, Apple and Microsoft, etc.)
  • The Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999 docu-drama with similar historical content to Triumph of the Nerds; based on the history book “Fire in the Valley”)
    • Notes:
      • dramatized rendition of the early days of Microsoft and Apple starring Noah Wyle from “ER” as Steve Jobs and Anthony Michael Hall from “The Breakfast Club” as Bill Gates!
      • has been used as part of the history unit on computer architecture in ICE3M
      • some potentially objectionable material, including some language and some mature situations so preview it first to see if you think it’s appropriate for your class
      • Here’s the IMDB link:

Societal Issues:

  • The Net (identity theft)
  • Piracy is Good? (lecture about bit-torrent tech, entertainment industry and marketing)
  • Terminator (any of them)
  • A.I. (better for the younger kids – less nightmares)
  • Enemy of the State
  • Sneakers (An older movie about hacking done in a suspenseful, entertaining manner. Stars Robert Redford and a cameo cast of others.)
  • War games
  • Hackers (movie)
  • CBS Passionate Eye episode on Spam (quite funny but has a few questionable sections that would need to be edited out)
  • 60 Minutes episode “Pirates of the Internet” (documentary on illegally downloading movies and music)
  • Fifth Estate segment called “Hackers” (very good)
    • Note: Gives one the impression that “to hack is to break the law.” (Michelle Vidberg says) “I don’t completely subscribe to that view.  So I show the Fifth Estate video one day and the next I have them read a chapter of “The Hacker Ethic” (by Pekka Himanen) entitled “The Hacker Work Ethic”. Himanen (and Torvalds who writes the introduction) espouses the view that a hacker is anyone who pursues knowledge in their chosen field with great passion.  So one could be a “hacker teacher” just by being very enthused and passionate about teaching, for example.  After watching the video and reading the chapter I have them do some thinking and writing about which definition they think is most suitable.”

Fun Stuff


  • PBS’ “NerdTV” (available as web downloads only – its not aired)
  • Next TV (a now defunct? Citytv program) segment called “Tech Trash”

Computer Technology

Computer Hardware

  • Intel’s Journey Inside the Computer (This video is part of a kit made by Intel but no longer available to buy; A bit childish but very good)
  • Intel Journey Inside (based on the original video-based kit) – and
  • Thinking Machines – by PBS?
  • How Stuff Works (on Discovery Channel) segment on how circuit boards are made
  • Daily Planet (on Discovery Channel) segment on the First Robotics competition (November 2006)
  • Daily Planet (on Discovery Channel) segments on computer interfacing called “Golf Swing Project” and “Lego” (both from May of 2003)
  • Inspirations Series called “Inspiration Light Speed” (on fiber optics)


  • Nerds 2.0.1. – A Brief History of the Internet


New Technology

  • – Hosted by Andy Walker and Sean Carruthers, showcases an array of videos from a beginner perspective on tech-related items. Not all can be related to Computer Engineering, but most of it can. As of now, there’s 52 episodes online. This could keep your students busy for a while… and even have them learn something about new and recent technology.
  • Tom’s Hardware ( – Tons of great detailed information on current computer hardware. There is a great video online covering product comparisons, super cooling cpus, and showing how cpu’s burn up when the heat sink is removed. More fun then educational but very interesting and short with funky disco music in the background.

Societal Issues

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Computer Science


  •  Sorting Out Sorting ((Luc Lamirande said) prepared by a university…can’t remember which one. A bit dated but offers some interesting facts about the different algorithms used to sort. I find it goes over best with a grade 12 class.) It is available from the University of Toronto at:
  • “The Secret Rules of Modern Living: Algorithms”, Documentaries, 2015, 58 minutes, British Films, In this documentary, mathematics professor Marcus Du Sautoy reveals the hidden world of algorithms and how these 2,000-year-old problem solvers work., Available on Netflix Canada as of 9/13/15

Societal Issues

  • Anti-Trust (drama about open-source source software vs monopoly; stars Ryan Phillipe)
    • Note: if you freeze the DVD, the on-sceen code is a bit rude in places if you read Java (… especially the decision constructs)! The students enjoy this.
  • Revolution OS (A documentary of sorts about the open source movement starring Linus Torvalds, Richard Stallman, Eric Raymond and so on; IMDB link:

Issues Related to Obtaining Videos and Showing Them in Class

  • Be sure to do the following before showing videos to your class.
    • Look under video and fair dealings in the copyright act. There are certain clauses dealing with education. (talk to your English department head as the) odds are that your school or school board has some deal with various movie labels to allow showing of the movies. If not, your English Dept. may still know about what can and can’t be shown or legalities as they typically show many movies.
    • Can videos purchased by teachers (for home use) be used in the classroom? Can shows taped off of T.V. be shown?
    • For more detailed information on copyright issues, see the “Copyright Matters” publication –
    • Many segments can be requested from the broadcaster through the “Cable in the classroom project”. They usually just send a copy. For information on the “Cable in the Classroom project” see