Archive for February 3, 2011

Maybe not-so-much for increasing enrollments

CRA’s Taulbee report has been reporting increasing CS enrollments the last two years.  But CRA only reports on schools involved in computing research (specifically, as Andy Bernat pointed out: all PhD-granting departments of CS and Computer Engineering in the US and Canada).  With CS departments closing due to low enrollments, there’s reason to believe that the story isn’t the same everywhere.  A recent survey of SIGCSE liberal arts colleges was summarized by Bob Harlan:

We did have 23 respondents regarding freshmen CS enrollments, with St. Bonaventure making 24. We used trends over the period as a way of summarizing the data:

9 reported an uptrend (increases over 2008)

5 reported flat enrollments

3 reported a downtrend (peak in 2008 and lower enrollments since)

4 reported a bottoming pattern (freshmen CS enrollment lowest in 2009 with 2010 at least back to 2008 levels)

3 reported a topping pattern (highest CS freshmen enrollment in 2009, lower in 2008 and 2010).

Five of the nine schools reporting an uptrend had freshmen enrollments in 2009 and 2010 that were 15%+ greater than 2008.


* Robert M. Harlan, Ph.D.
* Professor of Computer Science
* Department of Computer Science
* St. Bonaventure University

February 3, 2011 at 10:25 am 6 comments

The Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted

I’ll blog more on CE21 as I can.  After Jane Margolis made her impassioned plea for a change in culture in CS and CS education, Owen Astrachan said that he has been teaching that computing is about people in his classes with one word: Egypt.

The article below does a nice job of considering both sides of that question: Do social media like Facebook and Twitter play a role in pro-democracy revolutions, or don’t they? There’s an argument that social media can be used to organize protests, but might also be used by state police for tracking down protestors (as it has been used in Iran).  A particularly interesting anecdote for me is the below: That the Internet was turned off in Egypt, but the protests continued.  So what role was Facebook and Twitter playing, really?

A graph of the Internet traffic going to and from Egypt last Thursday shows online activity proceeding at a brisk pace all afternoon — then suddenly collapsing to a bare minimum around 5 o’clock, as the country’s service providers shut access down.

This did not have the desired effect. The protests occurring the next day were bigger than before, and have grown steadily ever since — with labor unions organizing a general strike, and people carrying on with the strangely festive brand of courage that seems always to emerge during this sort of historical episode. A very few Egyptians have managed to get access to Twitter and the like. But nobody can claim that digital technology is driving events there.

How to understand this dynamic, then? In August, the United States Institute of Peace issued a report called “Blogs and Bullets: New Media in Contentious Politics,” co-authored by half a dozen political scientist and media analysts. (One of them is Henry Farrell, an associate professor of political science at the George Washington University, and a friend.) It offers the smartest assessment I have seen of the impact of new media on movements such as the upheavals sweeping North Africa lately – because it makes clear that we just don’t know very much.

“Conclusions are generally drawn from potentially nonrepresentative anecdotes,” the authors write, sometimes combined with “laborious hand coding of a subset of easily identified major (usually English) media.” There’s a tendency to focus on new media as “the magic bullet” explaining the course of events when “at best, it may be a ‘rusty bullet,’ ” since “traditional media sources [may prove] equally if not more important.” Nor is it clear how digital tools affect the various dimensions of political conflict — whether they serve to forge alliances among groups, for example, or tend to make each one close in upon itself more.

via Views: The Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted – Inside Higher Ed.

February 3, 2011 at 10:24 am 2 comments

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