Tuesday, August 07, 2007

mark guzdial on computing education: the importance, problems and possible solutions

I spent some happy hours reading Mark Guzdial's amazon blog. It's really good. Fantastic!

Mark's teaching approach is to start with a rich concept from the wider world of science or economics, for example, and then use computers, including programming, to enrich the study of that domain. As well he has background exposure to the philosophical and educational ideas of Alan Kay and Adele Goldberg, which he incorporates systematically in his thinking and writing. Every blog he writes is of a high standard, no waste or diversions from the central theme of educational computing (unlike my blog!). Here are some of the main issues which I feel he covers brilliantly:
  • the reasons why computer education including programming is vitally important, ie. a coherent argument about why everyone should learn to program
  • recognition of and reasons for the world wide enrollment decline in computer science
  • recognition with evidence that many students find programming hard and fear it
  • discussion of student understanding of basic computer concepts
  • contextualised computer education as part of the solution to these problems
  • description and feedback from the courses they run at Georgia Tech.
  • critical discussion about getting more girls involved in studying computing
I'll link to some sample posts of Mark's below with a brief commentary from me to flesh some of this out and give readers with little time some meaty places to get started:

Why Should Everyone Learn to Program? (Or, WHO should learn to program?)
Outline of an argument put to Mark's Associate Dean

What Students Think of Media Computation
Inspirational feedback from students from the Georgia Tech Media Computation course

The Wonderful Opportunities of the Declining Enrollment Crisis
Analyses the reasons for decline in Computer Science enrollments and what could be done about it

Follow-up: Report on Grace Hopper Panel
Discussion of "Female-friendly education: Increasing participation or watering down?"

CompFreak Round-Up
Summary of projects tackled and some student feedback from the Computational Freakonomics course

What is Computing?
The computer is the most significant invention for augmenting human thought since the invention of writing ...

Computational Freakonomics
Description of this course

Contextualised Computing Education
Rationale for a new type of computer education

Students find programming distasteful
I’ve had a couple of experiences over the last few months that demonstrated to me just how much students dislike programming, at a deeper level than I had expected ..."

Mark is the author of several books about computing, just linking to a couple here:
Introduction to Computing and Programming in Python, A Multimedia Approach

Squeak: Open Personal Computing and Multimedia (with Kim Rose)

1 comment:

Wara said...

Yep - a very cool blog. There is somthing refreshing in people that see opportunities in situations that others see as disasters and his declining enrolments post does that. I also particualrly enjoyed the post that tries to convince us that everyone should learn how to program. I reckon that it is useful purely for the higher order thinking and mental gynastics - which he doesn't mention. I think that he would say to us that our efforts to use Squeak and Scratch are on the right track. :-)