The current crisis in computing what are the real issues
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The Current Crisis in Computing: What are the Real Issues?. Mark Guzdial School of Interactive Computing Georgia Tech Story: 1 st Order Economics, 2 nd Order Curriculum. Addressing the 2 nd Order BS in Computational Media: Anything but CS Robotics CS1: Provide a Context

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The Current Crisis in Computing: What are the Real Issues?

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The current crisis in computing what are the real issues

The Current Crisis in Computing:What are the Real Issues?

  • Mark GuzdialSchool of Interactive ComputingGeorgia Tech

  • Story:

    • 1st Order Economics,2nd Order Curriculum.

    • Addressing the 2nd Order

      • BS in Computational Media: Anything but CS

      • Robotics CS1: Provide a Context

      • Threads™: Giving a new focus

Hypothesis economy 1 st order and curriculum 2 nd order

Hypothesis: Economy (1st order) and Curriculum (2nd order)

  • Our computing curriculum has never been attractive.

    • It is designed for the sole purpose of producing software engineers (Students read: “Dilbert!”)

  • For years, software engineering was a pathway to wealth (not just jobs)

    • People will go through a lot for wealth.

  • Dot-com bust plus off-shoring =>CS is no longer about wealth.

    • Recent uptick: “Google buys YouTube for $2B”(Thank you, Owen Astrachan!)

    • Now…why go through CS?

Solution support a variety of outcomes

Solution: Support a variety of outcomes

  • Prove to students that there are more outcomes in Computer Science.

    • Programming is part of the story, Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.

  • “Computer Science” has a lot of baggage now=> It takes a serious effort to make the case.

New degree bs in computational media

New Degree: BS in Computational Media

  • Joint with School of Literature, Communications, and Culture

  • Requirements:

    • All the same General Education as CS, including Calculus, Discrete Math, Statistics.

    • ½ of required courses in Computer Science.

      • Same courses as our CS majors.

    • ½ in Liberal Arts

      • Performance art, film studies, media theory, etc.

  • Results

    • 58 majors in first year, 24% female.

    • Nearly 200 majors today, still about ¼ female.

    • Fall 2006 class 70% larger than Fall 2005,Predicting 100% increase in Fall 2007!

A context for cs1 for cs majors robotics

A Context for CS1 for CS majors: Robotics

  • Microsoft Research has funded the Institute for Personal Robotics in Education

    • Tucker Balch, DirectingMonica Sweat, Developing GT’s CS1

    • Joint between Bryn Mawr and Georgia Tech


  • Goal is to develop a CS1 and CS2 with robotics as the context.

    • HW2: Recursively follow a light

    • CS2: Add a camera



  • Carrying Context to the Degree Level

  • A new conceptualization for an undergraduate degree.

  • We defined 8 “Threads” which together define Computing:

    • Computing and Media, People, Platforms, Computational Modeling, Information Internetworking, Intelligence, Embodiment, and Foundations

    • The courses within each are “core” CS (some), advanced/new CS, and some non-CS (e.g., Psychology in People Thread)

Threads as a degree

Threads™ as a Degree

  • Our BS in Computer Science is defined as any two Threads.

    • 28 possible paths to a degree now.

  • Advantages:

    • Clearly says what CS is. It isn’t just programming.

    • Clear differentiator for students.

      • It’s not just India’s or China’s CS

    • Explains why students take any particular course

  • Paper Saturday morning

Bill gates in time 12 feb 2007

Bill Gates in TIME 12 Feb 2007

  • Q: Education is a big focus for you. So, is there better learning through technology?

  • A: It's important to be humble when we talk about education, because TV was going to change education and videotape was going to change it and computer-aided instruction was going to change it. But until the Internet exploded 10 years ago, technology really hadn't made a dent in education at all. Learning is mostly about creating a context for motivation. It's about why should you learn things. Technology plays a role, but it's not a panacea.

Generalizing the solution

Generalizing the Solution

  • These are Georgia Tech’s solutions.They are instantiations of a general solution.

  • Contextualize and specialize

    • We can’t compete globally in terms of commodity skills.

      • And our students find those jobs boring, anyway.

    • We have to show:

      • Alternative options

      • Ways to specialize

      • Context to motivate and demonstrate broader outcomes.

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