TITLE: We Are Not Alone AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: February 27, 2008 5:48 PM DESC: ----- BODY: In case you think me odd in my recent interest in the idea of computer science for all students, even non-majors, check out an interview with Andries van Dam in the current issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education on-line:
Q: What do you hope to bring to computer-science education?

A: We'll try to figure out "computing in the broad sense" -- not just computer-science education, but computing education in other fields as well. What should high-school students know about computation? What should college students know about computation? I think these are all questions we're going to ask.
van Dam is a CS professor at Brown University and the current chair of the Computing Research Association's education committee. I look forward to seeing what the CRA can help the discipline accomplish in this space. Do keep in mind when I say things like "computer science for all students", I mean this for some yet-undetermined value of "computer science". I certainly don't think that current CS curricula or even intro courses are suited for helping all university or high school students learn the power of computing. (Heck, I'm not even sure that most of our intro courses are the best way to teach our majors.) That's one of the concerns that I have with the proposed Computing and the Arts major at Yale that I mentioned last time. It's not at all clear to me that a combination of courses from the existing CS and art majors is what is really needed to educate a new audience of intellectuals or professionals empowered to use computation in a new way. Then again, I do not know what such a new major or its courses might look like, so this experiment may be a good way to get started. But the faculty there -- and here, and on the CRA education committee, and everywhere else -- should be on the look-out for how we can best prepare an educated populace, one that is computation-savvy for a world in which computation is everywhere. -----