Archive for December, 2013

The ACM/IEEE 2013 CS Curriculum is released (in the nick of time!)

Posted by Mehran Sahami to the SIGCSE members list. Congratulations to the team for finishing it in time.

Dear Colleagues,

We are delighted to announce the release of the ACM/IEEE-CS Computer Science
Curricula 2013 (CS2013) Final Report. The report is available at the CS2013
website (http://cs2013.org) or directly at:
http://cs2013.org/final-draft/CS2013-final-report.pdf
(The report will also soon be posted at the ACM website as well as at
doi.org.)

The CS2013 Final Report contains guidance for undergraduate programs in
computer science, including a revised Body of Knowledge, over 80 course
exemplars (showing how the CS2013 Body of
Knowledge may be covered in a variety of actual fielded courses), and 5 full
curricular exemplars from a variety of educational institutions. The report
also contains discussions of characteristics of CS graduates, design
dimensions in introductory courses, and institutional challenges in CS
programs, among other topics. The report has been endorsed by both the ACM
and IEEE-Computer Society. We hope you find it useful.

CITING THE CS2013 FINAL REPORT
To cite the CS2013 report, please use the canonical citation provided below
in ACM format and BibTex.

ACM format:
ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Task Force on Computing Curricula. 2013. Computer Science
Curricula 2013. ACM Press and IEEE Computer Society Press. DOI:
http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2534860

BibTex:
@techreport{CS2013,
title = {Computer Science Curricula 2013},
author = {ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Task Force on Computing Curricula},
month = {December},
year = {2013},
institution = {ACM Press and IEEE Computer Society Press},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2534860},
doi = {10.1145/2534860}
}

Warm regards,
Mehran Sahami and Steve Roach
Co-Chairs, CS2013 Steering Committee

CS2013 Steering Committee

ACM Delegation
Mehran Sahami, Chair (Stanford University)
Andrea Danyluk (Williams College)
Sally Fincher (University of Kent)
Kathleen Fisher (Tufts University)
Dan Grossman (University of Washington)
Beth Hawthorne (Union County College)
Randy Katz (UC Berkeley)
Rich LeBlanc (Seattle University)
Dave Reed (Creighton University)

IEEE-CS Delegation
Steve Roach, Chair (Exelis Inc.)
Ernesto Cuadros-Vargas (Univ. Catolica San Pablo, Peru)
Ronald Dodge (US Military Academy)
Robert France (Colorado State University)
Amruth Kumar (Ramapo College of New Jersey)
Brian Robinson (ABB Corporation)
Remzi Seker (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Univ.)
Alfred Thompson (Microsoft)

December 30, 2013 at 10:42 am 1 comment

Computer Science Teacher: How is Computer Science NOT a 21st Century Skill?

Thanks to Alfred Thompson at Computer Science Teacher: How is Computer Science NOT a 21st Century Skill.

December 25, 2013 at 1:31 am 7 comments

Chicago State tries to shut down faculty blog (and Time for End of Year Break)

The blog article linked below is pretty interesting.  The lack of respect for academic freedom here is disappointing, but not uncommon.  More shocking is the Kansas Board of Regents decision that faculty can be fired for saying things in social media “contrary to the best interest of the university.”  (I could have been fired for my Swiki post under these rules.)

And on this note, I’m going to take a break from this blog for the holidays (Christmas and New Year’s for me and my family).  If something urgent comes up, I’ll post, but I’m going to take some time to focus elsewhere.  Thanks for reading, and best wishes to you and your loved ones for the holiday season.

But the university — where administrators have frequently clashed with faculty members — this week is demanding the shutdown of a faculty blog that has been highly critical of the university. The chief lawyer for the university sent a “cease and desist” letter to the professors who run the blog demanding that they shut it down.

The letter says that they can’t use the university’s name or symbols, and further the letter cites the blog’s content, saying that “the lack of civility and professionalism expressed on the blog violates the university’s values and policies.”

via Chicago State tries to shut down faculty blog | Inside Higher Ed.

December 21, 2013 at 1:22 am 5 comments

Google’s mistake: CS teacher PD must be on-line only

Google CS4HS program has had a big impact in computer science education in the United States.  According to the UChicago studies, a sizable percentage of all CS teacher professional development (PD) in the United States — 25% of all PD workshops were funded just by Google.

Google has changed the criteria for the 2014 offerings.  They will only fund all online courses.  Not so in Europe, where they are still funding face-to-face workshops.

This is a mistake for two reasons:

  1. We don’t know yet how to construct on-line CS teacher professional development that succeeds.  The drop-out rate for MOOCs is enormous, and teachers fall into the groups who most often do not complete, especially a CS-oriented MOOC.
  2. What we know about CS teacher PD says that you need to develop a community of practice, and you need to start it face-to-face.  CS is in a different place than most teacher PD.  Most teachers develop their sense of identity (which influences what professional groups they join, where they look for professional development, who they talk to about their classes) from their teacher certification: math teacher, reading teacher, science teacher.  Most states have no teacher certification for CS.  Lijun Ni’s work found that a community of practice was critical for establishing that sense of CS teacher identity.  How do you form it?  Many years ago, I got the chance to chat with Starr Roxanne Hiltz who did some of the earliest work with online teacher communities.  She said that it never worked when starting all online.  The teachers had to meet one another and establish rapport, and then the online component could take off.

Google can scale-up who gets “touched” by CS teacher PD, but will lose considerably in effectiveness.  I predict that the end result will be far fewer new CS teachers from the 2014 workshops than from previous incarnations of CS4HS.  I understand that Google is a company and has to control costs.  But the return on investment for this change will be drastically less — they will end up with fewer well-prepared CS teachers for their investment, not more.

Applicants must satisfy the following criteria in order to be eligible:

  • You must be affiliated with a college, university, technical college, community college, or an official non-profit organization
  • Your workshop must have a clear computer science focus
  • You must use Google products for content delivery
  • You must not cap enrollment

Please note:

In the US/Canada region for 2014, we will only be funding online courses (MOOCs) professional development programs

via CS4HS 2014-US/Canada.

December 20, 2013 at 1:13 am 6 comments

NSF STEM-C Partnerships Program Solicitation Released: New form of CE21

Just posted by Jeff Forbes to the SIGCSE-Members list.

NSF has released a new solicitation relevant to CS education.

STEM-C Partnerships: Computing Education for the 21st Century (14-523)
http://nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=503582

The STEM-C Partnerships combines and advances the efforts of both the former Math and Science Partnership (MSP) and Computing Education for the 21st Century (CE21) programs. STEM-CP: CE21 modifies the earlier CE21 program by:

– Merging the previous Broadening Participation (BP) and Computing Education Research (CER) tracks into a single Broadening Participation and Education in Computing (BPEC) track focused on building an evidence base for student learning of computing fundamentals applicable to the elementary, middle, or high school levels;
– Requiring a Broadening Participation component for all proposals on the CS 10K track; and
– Adding a third track, STEM-C Partnerships Computer Science Education Expansion, that aims to expand the work of previously funded NSF MSP Partnerships to increase the number of qualified computer science teachers and the number of high schools with rigorous computer science courses.

Please review the solicitation for the requirements and goals of the three tracks.

The next deadline for proposals is March 18, 2014.

December 19, 2013 at 10:08 pm 5 comments

Udacity, Coursera: Should celebrities teach MOOCs?

I don’t really have a problem with this.  Make the presentation in the videos as attractive as possible.  Just remember Herb Simon’ s quote: “Learning results from what the student does and thinks and only from what the student does and thinks. The teacher can advance learning only by influencing what the student does to learn.”  Doesn’t matter if it’s Agarwal or Damon doing the lecture — that’s not the critical part.

“From what I hear, really good actors can actually teach really well,” said Anant Agarwal, CEO of EdX, who was until recently a computer-science professor at MIT. “So just imagine, maybe we get Matt Damon to teach Thévenin’s theorem,” he added, referring to a concept that Agarwal covers in a MOOC he teaches on circuits and electronics. “I think students would enjoy that more than taking it from Agarwal.”

Casting Damon in a MOOC is just an idea, for now: In meetings, officials have proposed trying one run of a course with someone like Damon, to see how it goes. But even to consider swapping in a star actor for a professor reveals how much these free online courses are becoming major media productions—ones that may radically change the traditional role of professors.

via Udacity, Coursera: Should celebrities teach MOOCs?.

December 19, 2013 at 1:19 am 10 comments

To get Interest: Catch and Hold Attention

I’ve been thinking about this question a lot.  It’s informing my next round of research proposals.

We know more about how to retain students these days, the “hold” part of Dewey’s challenge mentioned below — consider the UCSD results and the MediaComp results.  But how do we “catch” attention?  We are particularly bad at “catching” the attention of women and minority students.  Our enrollment numbers are rising, but the percentage of women and under-represented minorities is not rising.  Betsy DiSalvo has demonstrated a successful “catch” and “hold” design with Glitch.  Can we do this reliably?  What are the participatory design processes that will help us create programs that “catch”?

So what can parents, teachers and leaders do to promote interest? The great educator John Dewey wrote that interest operates by a process of “catch” and “hold”—first the individual’s interest must be captured, and then it must be maintained. The approach required to catch a person’s interest is different from the one that’s necessary to hold a person’s interest: catching is all about seizing the attention and stimulating the imagination. Parents and educators can do this by exposing students to a wide variety of topics. It is true that different people find different things interesting—one reason to provide learners with a range of subject matter, in the hope that something will resonate.

via The Power Of Interest « Annie Murphy Paul.

December 18, 2013 at 1:04 am 3 comments

Research Universities Are Praised for Returning Focus to Undergrad Ed: Evidence?

What would you accept as evidence in support of this claim?  I don’t see it where I’m at, but I’m willing to believe that my experience is biased and limited.  How could we test this claim?

The president of the Association of American Universities said on Monday that public research institutions were once again moving forward, thanks to a renewed focus on undergraduate education and a willingness to “be extremely aggressive” in taking advantage of new financing opportunities.

Hunter R. Rawlings III said that, for the first time in his career, senior faculty members were spending time and effort on teaching. “Our main job at universities is educating students,” he said during a panel discussion here at this week’s annual meeting of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. “We forgot about that for a while. But now it has hit us with full force because tuition increases have caused the public to be angry, or skeptical at least, about the quality and the value proposition that they’re getting.”

via Research Universities Are Praised for Returning Focus to Undergrad Education – Administration – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

December 17, 2013 at 1:40 am 12 comments

Michelle Obama wants more kids to go to college to be software designers

I like that “software designers” is part of the story.

The first lady will add that whether students want to be doctors, teachers, mechanics or software designers, “you have got to do whatever it takes to continue your education after high school — whether that’s going to a community college, or getting a technical certificate, or completing a training opportunity, or heading off to a four-year college.”

Aides in Mrs. Obama’s office said she would visit other schools around the country and use social media to appeal to students, conveying the message that higher education is a door to a wider world.

via Michelle Obama Edges Into a Policy Role on Higher Education – NYTimes.com.

December 16, 2013 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

NCWIT Launches first Crowd-Funding Campaign for AspireIT #CSEdWeek

NCWIT has launched their first crowd-funding campaign. The campaign supports AspireIT a middle school outreach program that matches NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing recipients with participating NCWIT member organizations to create and run computing-related outreach programs for middle school girls. The Aspirations award is a wonderful program that both recognizes high school girls with an interest in computing, but also generates a community. There are groups of Aspirations award winners at schools like MIT that offer peer-support through undergrad.

The idea of AspireIT is to fund these award recipients in setting up middle school programs such as after-school programs, summer camps, clubs, or weekend conferences. Inspired by the desire of young women in computing to "pay it forward," AspireIT aims to employ a "near-peer" approach that provides middle school girls with a positive, sustained experience of learning and creating computing alongside their peers in high school and college. 

The link for the crowd-funding campaign is here: http://bit.ly/AspireIT 

December 13, 2013 at 1:49 pm Leave a comment

Lessons learned from ECEP: How do we change a state? (plus Resources for Teachers) #CSEdWeek

I wrote up a report on our Summit on Computing Education in South Carolina for Blog@CACM (and here’s the link back to my original post on the summit). It went well, in that we got the kind of attendees we wanted and had the kinds of discussions we wanted. I was particularly pleased with the energy up through the final session.

Barbara Ericson did a nice job of collecting a bunch of URL’s to resources for new Computer Science teachers, and then created a PowerPoint tour of them. I’ve posted these on a new Resources for New CS Teachers page here on the blog.

I learned a lot at the Summit. The issues in South Carolina are different from the ones in Georgia, and they’re different again in Massachusetts and California. That’s what’s making this ECEP Alliance work interesting and complicated.

What’s interesting is that we’re starting to see some common themes. I wouldn’t call these experimental results, since you can’t easily do experiments comparing states. Instead, these are some observations from our first four case studies.

Having a statewide organization is an enormous advantage: We work in California through Debra Richardson who heads up an organization called ACCESS with an Executive Director focused just on CS Ed in the state, Julie Flapan. ACCESS is about making computing education policy reform happen in California. That’s a huge advantage — a single point of contact to other efforts, a coordinating point for the state.

We started work in South Carolina because of IT-oLogy, a public-private partnership for advancing IT. As we started planning for the summit, we realized that we need more connections, so we formed a Steering Committee with representatives from across the state, from the Department of Education, to high schools, from Universities to private industry. That Steering Committee was very helpful in getting the word out about the summit and helping us to understand the issues when assembling the program.

Statewide meetings and summits help to make things happen: We launched the higher education part of Georgia Computes in 2007 at a meeting for CS department representatives from across the University System of Georgia. The summit in South Carolina has really got discussion going there (here’s a nice piece in the Columbia The Free Times after the summit). Massachusetts just held a statewide meeting of everyone offering CS professional development across the state. These meetings aren’t a waste of time — they get people focused on the issues, at high-bandwidth, and attract attention to the issues.  We’ve already been contacted by people in other states who want to organize similar summits.

A full-time statewide organizer is key: We couldn’t have done what we’ve done in Georgia without Barbara Ericson. Having full-time staff has similarly been key in Massachusetts, California, and South Carolina. Maybe you could you get a state to reform its computing education without a full-time person, with volunteers contributing their time. We’ve just seen how valuable it is to have a professional being the point of contact and focusing on making change happen.

December 13, 2013 at 1:59 am 4 comments

STEM Role Models for Girls: The Story of Robot Designer Cynthia Breazeal #CSEdWeek

As part of my Cyber Monday advertising email onslaught, I got this interesting ad from the National Academic Press (not a phrase one often writes).  They have a whole series of books on STEM role models for girls, including this one on Cynthia Breazeal, roboticist.  Have any of you read these?  Do you recommend them?

Cynthia Breazeal is a creature creator. Armed with electronic gadgets, software programs, and her endless imagination, she creates lifelike machines that can respond to the world around them. Cynthia Breazeal is a roboticist, a scientist who designs, builds, and experiments with robots. As a child, she relied on movies to see robots in action. Now robots are part of her daily life at the MIT Media Lab. There, she and her students use their computer science and engineering skills to work on marvels like Leonardo, a robot that interacts with people in ways that seem almost human. Cynthia s other world-famous projects include Kismet, an emotionally intelligent robot that smiles, frowns, and babbles like a baby. Why create robots like these? Cynthia can picture a future where sociable robots exist to benefit people. She works hard every day to turn that dream into a reality. Firsthand accounts from Cynthia and from those who know her best combine to tell the inspiring story of a curious, sports-loving girl who went on to become a worldclass roboticist. Robo World is also a Captivating story of high-tech invention where the stuff of science fiction becomes real in today’s labs.

via Robo World: The Story of Robot Designer Cynthia Breazeal.

December 12, 2013 at 1:36 pm Leave a comment

SXSWedu Panel Discussion: Engaging Students with CS Education #CSEdWeek

Nice to hear that computing education will be at SXSW.

I’m pleased to announce that my SXSWedu proposal “Engaging Students with Computer Science Education” has been accepted as a panel discussion! Here is a brief abstract describing the purpose of the session:

“Current trends show a loss of student interest in computer science careers and degrees across the U.S., especially among women and minorities, even though the need for qualified candidates in this field has never been greater. Across the country, computer science experts, computer science educators, researchers, and even policymakers are developing initiatives that address these problems.

In this panel, the leaders of three such initiatives will share their perspectives on computer science education, gender and diversity in the field, and high-quality instructional design for computer science students and teachers alike. Their respective programs, Project Engage (University of Texas, Austin), Exploring Computer Science: Los Angeles (UCLA), and New Mexico Computer Science for All (University of New Mexico) represent the latest large-scale efforts in computer science education. Educators, practitioners, and researchers can all learn from their collective expertise.”

via SXSWedu Panel Discussion – Engaging Students with Computer Science Education | ain’t what it used to be.

December 12, 2013 at 1:58 am Leave a comment

A BBC Broadcast on Computing: The Joy of Logic #CSEdWeek

Not sure how (if?) we can see this in the US, but it sounds really good.

A sharp, witty, mind-expanding and exuberant foray into the world of logic with computer scientist Professor Dave Cliff. Following in the footsteps of the award-winning ‘The Joy of Stats’ and its sequel, ‘Tails You Win – The Science of Chance’, this film takes viewers on a new rollercoaster ride through philosophy, maths, science and technology- all of which, under the bonnet, run on logic.

Wielding the same wit and wisdom, animation and gleeful nerdery as its predecessors, this film journeys from Aristotle to Alice in Wonderland, sci-fi to supercomputers to tell the fascinating story of the quest for certainty and the fundamentals of sound reasoning itself.

Dave Cliff, professor of computer science and engineering at Bristol University, is no abstract theoretician. 15 years ago he combined logic and a bit of maths to write one of the first computer programs to outperform humans at trading stocks and shares. Giving away the software for free, he says, was not his most logical move…

With the help of 25 seven-year-olds, Professor Cliff creates, for the first time ever, a computer made entirely of children, running on nothing but logic. We also meet the world’s brainiest whizz-kids, competing at the International Olympiad of Informatics in Brisbane, Australia.

‘The Joy of Logic’ also hails logic’s all-time heroes: George Boole who moved logic beyond philosophy to mathematics; Bertrand Russell, who took 360+ pages but heroically proved that 1 + 1 = 2; Kurt Godel, who brought logic to its knees by demonstrating that some truths are unprovable; and Alan Turing, who, with what Cliff calls an ‘almost exquisite paradox’, was inspired by this huge setback to logic to conceive the computer.

Ultimately, the film asks, can humans really stay ahead? Could today\’s generation of logical computing machines be smarter than us? What does that tell us about our own brains, and just how ‘logical’ we really are…?

via BBC Four – The Joy of Logic.

December 11, 2013 at 1:36 pm 2 comments

The Economic Value of (Computing) Education: For The Entrepreneur and Inventor, too #CSEdWeek

The linked article below provides results I’ve seen before — that the average income of college-educated is much higher than the non-college-educated.  I had not yet seen the below claim: Most inventors and entrepreneurs, the individuals who impact economic growth, are also predominantly college educated.  The model of the college-dropout entrepreneur is the exception, not the rule.  This is important for computing, too, where our model of the dropout CEO of the startup is legendary — but really rare.  If you want to create a computing company, you’re best off getting computing education.

Those who most directly impact economic growth—inventors and entrepreneurs—also tend to be highly educated. A Georgia Tech survey of patent inventors found that 92 percent had a bachelor’s degree, almost exclusively in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects. Likewise, almost all of the founders (92 percent) of the high-tech companies that have powered GDP in recent decades are college educated, especially in STEM fields. Thus, it is no surprise that macroeconomic research finds very large gains from education on economic growth at both the international and regional levels, as the research of Harvard’s Ed Glaeser and many others has shown.

via The Economic Value of Education | Brookings Institution.

December 11, 2013 at 1:57 am 6 comments

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