Creating new models for on-line CS learning

January 2, 2012 at 9:22 am 3 comments

I did a piece for Blog@CACM last week praising the Stanford CS online courses.  Since I had been negative about them here, it’s only fair that I also share here what I like about them.  It’s not the large number of students (and dropouts) that’s exciting to me.  It’s the new models of CS pedagogy being explored/

I enjoyed Daphne Koller’s article  in the New York Times where she makes much the same point.  While the Stanford online CS classes did use videos, they were interrupted by questions–fill-in-the-blank or multiple choice questions for students to use as “exercises.”  It’s a small change from just watching a video, and is hardly a revolutionary educational technology advance .  But I will bet that just that small change from videos-only would make a dramatic improvement in learning.  Figuring out how to improve learning for large numbers of students in computer science is a big deal.

The other cool model that I see in the Stanford online CS classes grew up around the Stanford classes.  Fred Martin at U. Massachusetts Lowell recently wrote a blog post about how he used the Stanford classes to create a “flipped classroom.”  The students signed up for the Stanford course, but also signed up for a for-credit course with Fred at Lowell.  Fred didn’t lecture–Why do that when Stanford provided those already? Instead, when Fred met with his students, they discussed the lectures, built on them, played with the problems.  The stuff that good students do outside of lecture, in order to really learn the material well, is what Fred did with his student during class time, which was still “outside of lecture.”  Again, I would bet that this model would lead to dramatically improved learning compared to just taking the Stanford online course.

via Online Stanford Classes Explore new Models for CS Learning | blog@CACM | Communications of the ACM.

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2011 in review Big rise in AP CS test-takers in Georgia and in US

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. slger  |  January 2, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Here’s a model national project linking into schools that could enliven K12 CS education. Jon Udell applies rigorous “web thinking” to calendaring and scheduling in his open Elm City project. Challenge schools to provide great calendar infrastructure for all organizations in their community. Learn XML, parsing, standards, requirements, and more computational thinking.

    Mark, maybe invite Jon to write a column on his thoughts. Also see a recent ITConversations odcast with Phil Windley on how this project fits into energy management and Internet of Things.

  • […] from a Stanford student who took the online CS classes is raising some attention.  Who loses in online, “flipped” classrooms?  Maybe it’s the students who are there face-to-face.  Wouldn’t it be ironic if the […]

  • 3. Round 4: A Slight Diversion | Teaching Software Carpentry  |  October 13, 2012 at 10:36 am

    […] To get started, please go to Mark Guzdial’s blog and look at everything he has posted since January 2, 2012. Half the articles are fairly ephemeral (conference announcements and the like), but I think the […]


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