Could we replace all of CS1’s nationwide with one good on-line CS course?
The key interesting phrase in Rich’s quote below is “higher-quality.” Could we get higher-quality on-line for CS1? And by what measure?
There’s been a huge thread in the SIGCSE members’ list asking, “Is Python better than Java for introductory computer science?” I thought that the best insight in that thread came from Doug Blank when he pointed out that we don’t have one outcome for CS1. How do you define “better” when we don’t agree on where we’re trying to get? Is “better” getting more majors? Getting more retention in CS1? Getting more retention into the Sophomore year? Getting more students into internships in the summer? Getting more access? Or getting more learning — and then, about CS knowledge or CS skills? And which knowledge and skills?
It’s an open research question (or maybe an engineering challenge) whether we can create an on-line introductory computing science course that is better than a face-to-face CS1. But a bigger challenge is whether we can agree on what “better” means.
Mr. DeMillo: All you have to do is add up the amount of money spent on courses. Just take an introduction to computer science. Add up the amount of money that’s spent nationwide on introductory programming courses. It’s a big number, I’ll bet. What is the value received for that spend? If, in fact, there’s a large student population that can be served by a higher-quality course, what’s the argument for spending all that money on 6,000 introduction to programming courses?