Has anyone considered the possibility that it’s just not fun anymore?. —Don Knuth, October 11, 2006. Making Computer Science Fun Again. Informatics Education Europe II Thessaloniki, Greece November 29, 2007. Eric Roberts Professor of Computer Science, Stanford University
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—Don Knuth, October 11, 2006
Making Computer Science Fun Again
Informatics Education Europe II
November 29, 2007
Professor of Computer Science, Stanford University
Past Chair of the ACM Education Board
McGettrick et al., SIGCSE 2007The Crisis in Computing Education
Graphic created by Greg Lavender at the University of Texas.
Susan T. Hill, Science and Engineering Degrees: 1966-96. Report number NSF 99-330.
National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, March 2002.
The last five years represent an interpolation based on the CRA Taulbee data.
It’s the economy.
It’s our image.
It’s the curriculum.
Computing is presented so poorly in schools that students lose all interest in the discipline before reaching university.
The attempt to unify the various subdisciplines of computing have led to a backlash against programming that makes it harder to produce students with solid software-development skills.
Increasingly, the reality of work in the field (even more than the image) has become unattractive, particularly in comparison to other opportunities bright students might pursue.Outline
All this talk about “Blue Skies” ahead just can’t hide the stark fact that Americans who don’t wish to migrate to India and/or some other off-shore haven are going to have a difficult career.
December 1, 2005
Blue Skies Ahead for IT Jobs
BY MARIA KLAWE
Contrary to popular belief, career opportunities in computer science are at an all-time high. We’ve got to spread that message among students from a rainbow of backgrounds, or risk becoming a technological backwater.
President, Harvey Mudd College
(at the time, Dean at Princeton)Myths of a Jobs Crisis Persist
There is no shortage of evidence that people believe the myths about the lack of jobs and the danger of outsourcing.
Why would any smart American undergrad go into IT when companies like IBM and HP are talking of stepping up their off-shoring efforts in the coming years? They want cheap labor, no matter the real cost.
I have been very successful in IT, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it today to anyone except people who are geeks. . . .
I think the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Labor are not correct.
Computer and information systems managers
Computer hardware engineers
Total, all professional-level IT occupations
Total, all occupations
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. Monthly Labor Review, November 2005But Data Show Job Prospects are Excellent
A statistical analysis undertaken by my colleague, Mehran Sahami, found that 88% of the 1993-2003 enrollment variance at Stanford can be explained by the NASDAQ average of the preceding year.
Dot-Com Boom Echoed in Deal to Buy YouTube
By ANDREW ROSS SORKIN
Published: October 10, 2006
A profitless Web site started by three 20-somethings after a late-night dinner party is sold for more than a billion dollars, instantly turning dozens of its employees into paper millionaires. It sounds like a tale from the late 1990’s dot-com bubble, but it happened yesterday.
Google, the online search behemoth, agreed yesterday to pay $1.65 billion in stock for the Web site that came out of that party—YouTube, the video-sharing phenomenon that is the darling of an Internet resurgence known as Web 2.0.
YouTube had been coveted by virtually every big media and technology company, as they seek to tap into a generation of consumers who are viewing 100 million short videos on the site every day. Google is expected to try to make money from YouTube by integrating the site with its search technology and search-based advertising program..
But the purchase price has also invited comparisons to the mind-boggling valuations that were once given to dozens of Silicon Valley companies a decade ago. Like YouTube, those companies were once the Next Big Thing, but some soon folded.
It cannot explain why enrollments were high a decade ago, when the curriculum looked pretty much the same.
It fails to account for the fact that all institutions saw similar loss of enrollment even when their curricula were very different. Most of the proposed curriculum improvements were in place somewhere in 2000-01, but declines occurred across the board.
The recent resurgence of enrollment seems likewise independent of curriculum.
Students decide to avoid computing long before they have any idea what the university curriculum is.The Curriculum Has a Second-Order Effect
The UCLA HERI study shows that students have already made their decisions before they reach university.
Source: Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, 2005
The number and complexity of topics that entering students must understand have increased substantially, just as the problems we ask them to solve and the tools they must use have become more sophisticated. An increasing number of institutions are finding that a two-course sequence is no longer sufficient to cover the fundamental concepts of programming.
Computing Curricula 2001
—Don Knuth, October 11, 2006
266 pagesThe March of Progress
Unfortunately, however, some have started to argue for the far less defensible proposition that
programming computer science
Adopting this position throws the baby out with the bathwater.The Vilification of Programming
computer science = programming
This view is indeed too narrow.
We have met the enemy and he is us.
I have an idea for a panel that I’d like to organize for SIGCSE’07. I’m asking for volunteers (or nominations of others) to serve on the panel. The panel I’d like to organize would have a title something like:
“Alternative Models for a Programming-lite Computer Science Curriculum”
The theme of the panel would be to share ideas and thoughts on how we might reduce (or eliminate) the emphasis on programming within a computer science curriculum. The basic idea is to cause discussion centered on the knowledge and skills students of tomorrow will need in the global economic workspace and the implications for the CS curriculum. As more and more aspects of software development of “offshored”, what kind of curriculum would allow a student to be successful in the IT field?
He called it coding.
And for those programming jobs, the reason it’s possible to sit in front of a computer for extended periods of time is because in CS we can learn new things, achieve goals, and be creative. Every day! It’s this last point that really drives me, personally. If you ask any passionate person how they can "___ all day long", it’s because that’s their outlet for being creative.Some Encouraging Signs
Matt Jacobsen, Senior, UC Berkeley
A common misconception is that many people think CS means sitting in front of a computer all day long. This may often be the case for programming, but CS is a large field. There are many applications that require CS skills that involve little or no programming. . . .
From Dan Garcia’s “Faces of CS” web site.