Posts tagged ‘computational media’

Leslie Lamport tells Computer Scientists to go create ebooks (and other new media)

Yes! Exactly!  That’s why we’re trying to figure out new media for expressing, learning, and talking about computing.

“If you succeed in attaining a position that allows you to do something great, if you do something that really is great, and if you realize that it’s great, there’s still one more hurdle: You have to convince others that it’s great,” he told the graduates. “This will require writing.”

He exhorted graduates in biological physics; chemistry; computational linguistics; computer science; language and linguistics; mathematics and physics to find new modes of communication.

“There must be wonderful ways in which a writer can interact with the reader that no one has thought of yet, ways that will convey ideas better and will make reading fun,” Lamport said. “I want you to go out and invent them.”

Source: Computer scientist Leslie Lamport to grads: If you can’t write, it won’t compute | BrandeisNOW

August 11, 2017 at 7:00 am Leave a comment

We can teach women to code, but that just creates another problem: Why Computational Media is so female

I suspect that the problem described in this Guardian article is exactly what’s happening with our Computational Media degree program.  The BS in CM at Georgia Tech is now 47% female, while the BS in CS is only 20% female.  CM may be perceived as front-end and CS as back-end.

But here’s the problem: the technology industry enforces a distinct gender hierarchy between front-end and back-end development. Women are typecast as front-end developers, while men work on the back end – where they generally earn significantly more money than their front-end counterparts. That’s not to say that women only work on the front end, or that men only work on the back end – far from it. But developers tell me that the stereotype is real.

The distinction between back and front wasn’t always so rigid. “In the earliest days, maybe for the first 10 years of the web, every developer had to be full-stack,” says Coraline Ada Ehmke, a Chicago-based developer who has worked on various parts of the technology stack since 1993. “There wasn’t specialization.”

Over time, however, web work professionalized. By the late 2000s, Ehmke says, the profession began to stratify, with developers who had computer science degrees (usually men) occupying the back-end roles, and self-taught coders and designers slotting into the front.

Source: We can teach women to code, but that just creates another problem | Technology | The Guardian

May 19, 2017 at 7:00 am 3 comments

Liberal arts colleges explore interdisciplinary pathways with CS: Great to see!

I’m excited by this initiative.  We need to see more CS + X kinds of programs.  Our Computational Media degree program has been a Computing + Digital Media program, and is wildly successful (see example post here).  The challenge is to engage faculty from across campus in the initiative.

Bates last September launched a similar project, called the Digital Course Design/Redesign Initiative, for faculty members interested in adding digital and computational tools or methods to existing courses. If it becomes popular among faculty members, the initiative could help realize Bates’s plans of having interdisciplinary pathways for its digital and computational studies majors. Auer, the Bates dean, acknowledged that building those pathways is “going to require deep consultation with the faculty” — as well as some new faculty members in other departments.

Source: Liberal arts colleges explore interdisciplinary pathways with computer science

April 4, 2016 at 7:58 am Leave a comment

Different is not Lite: A 2002 Argument Against Media Computation

IMG_8709

I recently moved offices. In the process of packing and pitching, I found the above editorial from the Georgia Tech student newspaper.  Dated September 2002, it urged the faculty in the Liberal Arts, Architecture, and Management Colleges to reject the newfangled Media Computation class that was being proposed.

I had heard the argument being made in the editorial before, and continue to hear it today.  The argument is that we do our students a disservice if we don’t give them “real” computer science.  The editor cited above is arguing that all students at Georgia Tech deserve the same high-quality computer science education.  If we don’t give them the “real” thing, if liberal arts and management majors aren’t getting the same thing as CS majors, they are only getting “CS lite.”

That phrase “CS lite” gets applied to our BS in Computational Media regularly. (See the blog post where I talk about that.)  Which is funny, because all but one of the CS classes that CM majors take are the same ones that CS majors take.  Georgia Tech CS majors take many more credit hours than other majors (including CS majors at other institutions), and the CM major has enough CS courses to be ABET accredited as a computing program.  So, what’s “lite” about that?  Are other schools’ BS in CS programs “Georgia Tech CS lite” because they have fewer credit hours in CS?

Media Computation wasn’t lite. It was different.  MediaComp didn’t cover everything that the intro course for CS majors did.  But the course for CS majors didn’t cover everything that MediaComp did.  In fact, after a few years, the CS instructors complained that our CS majors didn’t know about RGB and how to implement photo effects (like how to negate an image, or how to generate grayscale from a color picture) — which non-CS majors did know!  Content on media got added to the CS majors classes.

Computational Media isn’t CS lite.  It’s CS different.  The one course that’s different between CS and CM is the required course on computer organization.  CS majors take a course based on Patt and Patel’s book.  CM majors take a course where they program a Nintendo Gameboy.  The courses are not exactly the same, but have a significant overlap.  We did a study of the two courses a few years ago and published a journal paper on it (see link here, and article is on my papers page). There was no significant difference in student learning between the two courses.  But the CM majors liked their course much more.  Now, there are projects on programming the Gameboy in the CS majors classes, too.

Different is good.  Different is where you invent new things.  Some of those new curricular ideas helped CS courses.  Some of those different ideas stayed in the CM and MediaComp courses. Those courses serve different populations and different needs. Not all of it was appropriate or useful for CS majors.

Just because there is difference doesn’t mean that it’s lite.  Do we call mechanical engineering “physics lite”?  Or chemical engineering “chemistry lite”?  I’m sure that there are people who do, but that’s disparaging to the difference and diminishes the value of exploring different combinations of subject areas.  Valuing different combinations with computing is a particularly important idea for computer science, because interdisciplinary computing degrees are the only ones where the percentage of women majors are growing (see RESPECT report here).  We should value interdisciplinary courses and programs because it’s good for our students and for diversity.  We should not disparage the CS + X perspectives as “CS lite.”

September 23, 2015 at 8:22 am 2 comments

EarSketch Workshop at SIGCSE 2015

I’m an advisor on the EarSketch project, and it’s really cool. Recommended.

Next month, the EarSketch team will be offering a workshop at SIGCSE in Kansas City. This is a great opportunity to learn more about EarSketch, get hands on experience with the curriculum and environment, and learn how to use EarSketch in your classroom. This year’s workshop will also offer advice on integrating EarSketch into Computer Science Principles courses, though the workshop is of relevance to anyone teaching an introductory computing course.

For more information about SIGCSE, visit http://sigcse2015.sigcse.org/index.html
To register for the workshop, please visit https://www.regonline.com/register/login.aspx?eventID=1618015&MethodId=0&EventsessionId=
Please contact Jason Freeman (jason.freeman@gatech.edu) with any questions.

SIGCSE 2015
Workshop #20: Computer Science Principles with EarSketch
Saturday, March 7th, 2015
3 pm – 6 pm

Jason Freeman, Georgia Institute of Technology
Brian Magerko, Georgia Institute of Technology
Regis Verdin, Georgia Institute of Technology

EarSketch (http://earsketch.gatech.edu) is an integrated curriculum, software toolset, audio loop library, and social sharing site that teaches computing principles through digital music composition and remixing. Attendees will learn to code in Python and/or JavaScript to place audio clips, create rhythms, and add and control effects within a multi-track digital audio workstation (DAW) environment while learning computing concepts such as variables, iteration, conditionals, strings, lists, functions, and recursion. Participants write code to make music, with a focus on popular genres such as hip hop. The agenda outlines the pedagogy of connecting musical expression to computation to broaden participation and engagement in computing; the underlying concept of thickly authentic STEAM that drives this approach; the alignment of the curriculum and learning environment with CS Principles; and basic musical concepts underlying EarSketch. The intended audience for this workshop is secondary and early post secondary CS educators. The course is of particular relevance to CS Principles teachers but also applicable to any introductory programming or computing course. No prior musical knowledge or experience is expected and no prior programming experience with Python or JavaScript is required.

February 14, 2015 at 8:18 am 1 comment

Talk at Rutgers on Dec 9: Creative Expression to Motivate Interest in Computing

If you’re in the New Jersey area on Tuesday December 9:

Library & Information Science Department Guest Lecture, open to the Rutgers Community….

Dr. Mark Guzdial and Barbara Ericson

Scholarly Communication Center at Alexander Library (4th Floor lecture hall)

Tuesday, 12/9/2014, 12-1:30pm

Title: Creative Expression to Motivate Interest in Computing

Abstract:  Efforts in the US to promote learning about computer science and computational thinking emphasize the vocational benefits.  Research on end-user programming suggests that for every professional software developer in the United States, there are four more professionals who program as part of doing their job.  Efforts in other countries (UK, Denmark, New Zealand) instead emphasize the value of computing as a rigorous discipline providing insight into our world.  We offer a third motivation: computing as a powerful medium for creative expression.  We have used computational media to motivate children to study computing, to go beyond thinking about “geeks” in computing.  We use media computation to encourage teachers and introductory students at college. The approach draws in a different audience than we normally get in computer science The BS in Computational Media at Georgia Tech is the most gender-balanced, ABET-accredited undergraduate computing degree in the United States.  We use these examples to paint a picture of  using creative expression to motivate interest in computing.

Bios:

  • Mark Guzdial is a Professor in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech. He is a learning scientist who focuses on computing education research. He invented the Media Computation approach to teaching introductory computing. He serves on the ACM’s Education Council, and is on the editorial boards of the “Journal of the Learning Sciences,” “ACM Transactions on Computing Education,” and “Communications of the ACM.” With his wife and colleague, Barbara Ericson, he received the 2010 ACM Karlstrom Outstanding Educator award.  He was also the recipient of the 2012 IEEE Computer Society Undergraduate Teaching Award.
  • Barbara Ericson is the Director of Computing Outreach and a Senior Research Scientist for the College of Computing at Georgia Tech.  She has worked at Georgia Tech to increase the quantity and quality of secondary computing teachers and the quantity and diversity of computing students since 2004. She is currently also pursuing a Human-Centered Computing PhD at Georgia Tech. She has co-authored four books on Media Computation.  She was the winner of the 2012 A. Richard Newton Educator Award.  She has served on the CSTA’s Board of Directors, the Advanced Placement Computer Science Development Committee, and the NCWIT executive committee for the K-12 Alliance.

December 3, 2014 at 8:11 am 4 comments

Computational media women are retained to graduation

After my post claiming that Georgia Tech’s Computational Media program is the most gender-balanced, ABET-accredited computing undergraduate degree program in the United States, I had several people ask, “But that’s enrollment. Do the women graduate? Do they stick with the program?” My sense was that they did, but I asked our College data person, Elijah Cameron, and he sent me the below. Last year, BS in Computational Media graduates were over 40% female. Pretty good.

CM-graduate-gender-share

October 24, 2014 at 8:31 am 1 comment

Pursuing universal computing literacy: Mozilla-as-Teacher, Everyone-as-Coder

Here’s another take on the “Computing for Everyone” theme that is near and dear to me. I’ve been exploring this idea in my talks and papers, here in the blog, and all starting from our Media Computation work.  This theme starts from a different question than CS: Principles, which is asking what should everyone learn about computing.  The Mozilla-as-teacher post is suggesting why everyone should learn “coding” (here, including HTML coding, vs. programming): to make the Web better.

It’s a reasonable answer, in the sense that universal literacy makes the world of letters better.  But how does it make it better?  For me, I’m still attracted to the innovation argument: we use code as a medium to say, share, and test ideas that we can’t in other media.  That communication, sharing, and debugging of ideas leads to more and better ideas, which results in innovation — new ideas, new extensions of those ideas, new implementations of those ideas.  That’s why it’s important to strive towards near-universal computing literacy, at least with respect to knowledge workers, which is why it’s important to require computing in college.

There are other arguments, too.  Another powerful reason for universal computing literacy is that it’s about knowing the world we live in. Why do we teach students the periodic table and the difference between meiosis and mitosis?  It’s mostly not because of job skills.  It’s because people live in a world where chemistry and biology matter.  Today, we all live in a world where computing matters.  Knowing about the inherent limitations of digital representations is more important to most people’s daily lives than knowing about meiosis and mitosis.

Now, if you buy all that: How do we get there?

This has been the premise behind much of what we have done with Mozilla Drumbeat: people who make stuff on the internet are better creators and better online citizens if they know at least a little bit about the web’s basic building blocks. Even if they only learn a little HTML, the web gets better.

via Mozilla as teacher « commonspace.

September 27, 2011 at 9:14 am 6 comments

What corporate recruiters ask about computing students: It’s situative not cognitive

I am now the Director of our Computational Media undergraduate program.  (I had the gig three years ago, and it’s circled back around on me.)  One of my jobs is to help answer the questions from the industrial recruiters, “What do your students know?”  Below are the questions that I just got from one of bigger, more well-known companies in this space.  Reminds me alot of the situative issues raised earlier in this blog.  They’re not asking what subjects or concepts, but what tools and in what contexts (e.g., Java for client vs. Java for server).

What experience will the students have with:

•       Engineering?    C, C++…

•       Mobile?   Objective C, iOS, Android…

•       Server?  Java, JBOSS, Jetty, Tomcat…

•       Networking?  MySQL/SQL/Database, TCP/IP, Unix, Linux, etc…

•       Web?  Java, C#, PHP, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Flash, ActionScript…

•       Tools?  C#…

•       Scripting?  Python, Ruby, Bash, Perl, etc…

September 8, 2011 at 9:55 am 4 comments

Call for Participation for C5 Conference

Do come to C5! You can skip my talk, since readers of this blog already know pretty much everything I’d have to say. I’m looking forward to the conference!

The 10th International Conference on Creating,
Connecting and Collaborating through Computing (C5 2012)

18-20 January 2012
Playa Vista, CA USA
http://www.cm.is.ritsumei.ac.jp/c5-12/

Hosted by the USC Institute for Creative Technologies
http://www.ict.usc.edu

Computers, networks, and other forms of technology are pervasive in our
information-based society. Unfortunately, most users of this technology use
it for passive consumption of information and entertainment. To evolve into a
true knowledge society it is critical that we transform computer-based human
activities to engage users in the active process of creating, connecting, and
collaborating together.

The C5 conference is for anyone interested in the use of computers as tools to
develop and enable user-oriented creation, connection, and collaboration
processes. Researchers, developers, educators and users come together at C5
to present new and ongoing work and to discuss future directions for creative
computing and multimedia environments. We welcome the submission of
theoretical and technical papers, practitioner/experience reports, and papers
that bridge the gap between theory and practice or that encourage inter- and
cross-disciplinary study.

=== Keynote Speakers ===

“Helping Everyone Create with Computing”
Dr. Mark Guzdial
Georgia Institute of Technology

“C2P3: Creating and Controlling Personalisation
and Privacy in Pervasive Digital Ecosystems”
Dr. Judy Kay
University of Sydney

=== Topics ===

C5 invites submissions of full papers in (but not limited to) the following
areas:

– Technology-enhanced human-computer and human-human interaction
and collaboration
– Virtual worlds and immersive environments
– Educational environments for classroom, field work and online/distance
learning
– New technologies for literature, music and the visual arts
– Technologies for collaborative and self-empowered learning
– Multimedia authoring environments
– Gaming/entertainment platforms, virtual characters, and software
infrastructure
– Social networks and social networking
– Novel programming paradigms and languages for implementors
– Scripting or visual paradigms and languages for end-users
– Creating and maintaining online communities
– Tools for creating/managing online services/environments
– Distributed and collaborative working
– Social and cultural implications of new technologies

Papers should be submitted electronically in PDF format via EasyChair at:

https://www.easychair.org/conferences/?conf=c512

Submissions must be written in English (the official language of the
conference) and must not exceed eight (8) pages. They should use the IEEE
10-point two-column format, templates for which are available at:

http://www.computer.org/portal/web/cscps/home

=== Proceedings ===

A preliminary version of the proceedings will be distributed during the
conference. The formal version of the proceedings will be published by the
Conference Publishing Services (CPS) and sent to authors after the conference.
For each accepted paper, at least one of the authors needs to attend the
conference and deliver the presentation; otherwise the paper will not be
included in the formal proceedings.

=== Dates ===

Submission of papers: October 7, 2011
Author notification: November 18, 2011
Camera-ready copy: December 16, 2011
Conference: January 18-20, 2012

http://people.ict.usc.edu/~lane/C5/C5-12-CFP.pdf

May 19, 2011 at 8:34 am 1 comment

Sometimes, Education is not about making it easier

Still trying to dig out from under the grading pile — it’s finals week here at Georgia Tech, and grades are due Monday at noon.  My TA for Media Computation data structures had to leave the semester a couple weeks early, so I just finished catching up on all the grading (programming homework, quizzes, and final exam) for that class yesterday.  I also have 40 students in a Senior Design class, so I’m deep into reviewing project documentation, design diagrams, and personal reflections on their process.

I’ve had a theme arise from both classes in the last couple days that is worth mentioning here.

Theme: I got a lovely note from one of my MediaComp DS students reflecting on his time in the class.  (As a teacher, it’s an enormous boost to get one of these — even when critical, it affirms your job as a teacher: “Someone was listening!”)  Against the recommendations of his advisors, he took my class and the follow-up intro to Java course concurrently, which means that he only gets elective credit for my course.  But it gave him the opportunity to compare the two courses, which is pretty interesting for me.  Besides these two CS courses, he was taking a course in combinatorics.  He saw my course as the “glue” which combined the ideas of the three courses.

The concepts you introduced formed essential links with material from my other classes to illustrate the harmony of what I considered three more or less independent studies (for a long time I considered <MediaComp DS class> and <intro-to-Java> very different other than their shared use of Java, with one being the “general programming class” and the other being the “media and simulation programming class”).

What I found  most intriguing was that he saw the MediaComp DS course as being the more “theoretical” course.  Of course, any data structures course deals with theory issues more than a simple introduction to programming.  But because this course included simulation, we also dug into probability distributions and continuous/discrete-event issues which connected to combinatorics and statistics in interesting ways.  In a real sense, that made the MediaComp DS course harder than the introduction to Java course.

Recapitulation: One of my Senior Design teams refactored some code for our Physics department.  Physics at Georgia Tech uses VPython in several labs.  The physicists found that some of the code that the students had to write (to simulate a falling object, to graph data, etc.) was clumsy and had students struggling with parameterization issues.

My Senior Computational Media students, well-versed in HCI as they are, wanted to create a GUI for a Physics simulation.  The Physics teachers (to their credit, in my opinion!) insisted on having their students write code.  They explicitly wanted their Physics students to deal with “computational thinking” (their term, which may mean something different than others). So, the team created a nice set of objects, rather than the umpteen functions that students had to use previously.  The Physics teachers are thrilled — the team did a very good job.  But in their reflections, my Seniors are still complaining that they’d prefer to have built GUIs.  “It would have been easier on the Physics students.”

I agree, a GUI-based simulation would have been easier on the Physics students.  The students also would have learned less.  They would have had less flexibility.  The Physics teachers wanted the interface to VPython to be usable — to be understandable and to focus on the Physics and on the representational issues (e.g., how do you want to represent a vector to be useful?).  While harder than a GUI, the Physics teachers felt that the code helped achieve their learning goals better.  It’s not always about make things easier.

May 6, 2011 at 9:57 am Leave a comment

Supporting Creativity but maybe not Creation

The cited blog post is critiquing Apple for having wonderfully creative technology but not well supporting software creation — and what does that mean for the future of computing, as Apple becomes the copied model.  Apple’s tools are used often by professionals in the creativity profession, but too often, those professionals aren’t also involved in creating new technology, even if just for themselves, and Apple isn’t really helping them make that move.  We saw a form of that in Brian Dorn’s dissertation work, where graphics artists had wonderful tools for creating digital media, but fended for themselves in learning to create software.

The concern voiced in this blog is that so-goes-Apple then so-goes-the-industry. This does seem to be a problem in our industry (is it true for all industries?) that ,when one company pulls ahead into a virtual monopoloy, everyone else adopts the approaches and strengths of the front-runner.  How many “next Microsofts” or “next Googles” or “next Facebooks” have you heard about?  The strengths and weaknesses of that company’s approach becomes the model that everyone copies.

Apple’s abysmally, disastrously worst ideas will be mindlessly copied along with their best.  To some extent this is already happening.  And if current trends continue, there will come a time when nothing resembling a programmable personal computer will be within the financial (or perhaps even legal!) reach of ordinary people.

The user-programmer dichotomy will be permanently cemented in place – even now, most computer owners don’t think of the expensive space heater on their desks as something programmable.  But in the future it won’t even occur to a curious child that the behavior of his, let’s say, schoolpad can be altered in ways unforeseen by its makers – the essence of the creative act we call programming.  We will be stuck with computers – machines which, within certain limits, are capable of literally anything – which have been deliberately – artfully! – crippled into being far less meaningfully-modifiable than our cars and houses.

via Loper OS » On the Still-Undefeated Tyranny of Apple..

April 25, 2011 at 8:17 am 8 comments

Pagination is better than scrolling for digital texts

This is an interesting argument that I hadn’t met previously: Pagination is better for long digital texts because it’s easier for sustained reading.  What are the implications for reading source code?  Is pagination (and perhaps formatting via something like Knuth’s WEB) better than a scroll bar?

Let’s put it under the umbrella term ‘scrollable’. Scrollable content works very well for two or three screenfuls of content, because it lets you adjust, pixel by pixel or line by line, to your changing context. You can say “I want this thing on the screen, and this nearby thing on the screen at the same time”, which is often useful — particularly if the content has varied elements like buttons and links and images as well as text. That is to say, scrollable content generally works very well for web pages.

But for anything of real length, it is seriously hard work. It’s important to realise what you’re doing when you’re scrolling. You’re gazing at the line you were reading as you draw it up the screen, to near the top. When it gets to the top, you can continue reading. You do this very quickly, so it doesn’t really register as hard work. Except that it changes your behaviour — because a misfire sucks. A misfire occurs when you scroll too far too rapidly, and the line you were reading disappears off the top of the screen. In this case, you have to scroll in the other direction and try to recognise your line — but how well do you remember it? Not necessarily by sight, so immediately you have to start reading again, just to find where you were.

Beyond this, even if you have startling accuracy, still you are doing a lot of work, because your eyes must track your current line as it animates across the screen. For sustained reading, this quickly gets physically tiring.

Pagination works for long text, not because it has a real-world analogy to printed books or whatever, but because it maximises your interface: you read the entire screenful of text, then with a single command, you request an entirely new screenful of text. There’s very little wastage of attention or effort. You can safely blink as you turn.

via if:book: a defense of pagination.

February 24, 2011 at 8:06 am 4 comments

What’s the right format for CS Ebooks?

This Chronicle piece about a new MIT Press book released using an ebook tool called “Scalar” interested me and got me spending time exploring EBook formats, seeking an answer to the question, “If we were going to do a good CS Ebook, one in which programming experimentation could be done from within the book, what format is most promising?” Scalar is not so interesting because you can only link to fixed digital media. I found Monocle much more interesting, because the content of pages can be defined with JavaScript, and so could include simulations and even a programming environment (a Lively Kernel?). I was disappointed and intrigued by the below comment — Sophie is considered a failure, but there’s a new Sophie in development?

The fate of Scalar, which has not yet been released to the public, also remains to be seen. Mellon had backed an earlier attempt to build multimedia-authoring software, called Sophie. The first version failed, says Bob Stein, a director of the Institute for the Future of the Book, who left the Sophie project after blowing through more than $2.5-million working on it. A second version is not usable now but may end up being the “holy grail,” he says.

“The easier you try to make an authoring environment, the harder it is to build it,” says Mr. Stein. “It’s easy to build an authoring environment that requires experts to use. It’s very hard to build an authoring environment that somebody can use after reading two pages of instructions.”

via Free ‘Video Book’ From Academic Press Challenges Limits of Scholarship – Technology – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

February 23, 2011 at 8:25 am 11 comments

What’s wrong with online courses

I liked this piece in the NYTimes about why online courses aren’t taking off.  The author’s point about online courses “lacking the third dimension” (social, face-to-face interactivity) is a good one (and that’s where OpenStudy comes in), but the side point he makes is more interesting to me.  The media of online courses just is nowhere near what it needs to be!  Powerpoint slides, PDF tests, and no feedback is just abysmal, and we can do so much better!

When colleges and universities finally decide to make full use of the Internet, most professors will lose their jobs.

That includes me. I’m not worried, though, at least for the moment. Amid acute budget crises, state universities like mine can’t afford to take that very big step — adopting the technology that renders human instructors obsolete.

via Online Courses, Still Lacking That Third Dimension – NYTimes.com.

February 18, 2011 at 9:41 am 12 comments

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