the Georgia tech LWc Productivity computer cluster.
puting. We have introduced a minor
in computer science. We had enough
students interested in computing after
the media course that we now offer a
second course, on data structures within a media context. A second course
was also developed for engineering
students, so we now teach three second
computing courses, as well as three introductory courses.
Faculty in the School of Interactive
Computing and the School of Literature, Culture, and Communication (in
the College of Liberal Arts) now offer
a new joint undergraduate degree, a
bachelor of science degree in computational media. The course was developed because of growing common
interest in areas like video games,
augmented reality, and computer ani-
mations. While the common research
interests were clearly the motivating
factor in deciding to create the new degree program, having a media computation course that could draw students
into the new program from liberal arts,
as well as from computing, facilitated
the joint effort.
We see an increasing number of
courses around campus that require
students to write programs, though
not necessarily as an outcome of the
computing requirement. Computing
is growing in importance in all fields.
Non-computing faculty request us to
include particular concepts or tools in
the introductory courses and to provide prerequisite knowledge and skills
for advanced courses. In this way, the
computing requirement has become
part of curricula across campus.
In the first years, the success rates
for the new courses were sometimes
higher than the success rate in the
continuing CS1321. We realized that
even computer science majors need
introductory courses that connect
explicitly to a context that students
recognize as computing. In a joint effort with Bryn Mawr College and with
funding by Microsoft Research, we
launched the Institute for Personal
Robotics in Education (IPRE, http://
www.roboteducation.org) to develop
a new introductory course that uses
robotics as the context for teaching in-
We in the College of Computing believe the use of contextualized computing education has been a significant
step in making Georgia Tech’s universal computing requirement successful. Developing contextualized courses
is challenging and expensive (for example, writing textbooks, developing
new integrated development environments), but the results can be shared.
Other campuses are adopting our contextualized approaches, and some are
developing their own.
We recommend involving faculty
from the other departments in building courses for non-major students.
They understand their students’ needs
in later courses and in their students’
future professions. Further, we need
them as context informants as we develop courses that teach through examples from their domains.
Finally, building successful, high-demand courses for non-computing
majors gives us a different perspective on the current enrollment crisis.
Students want these courses. Other
schools on campus want to collaborate
with us to build even more contextualized classes. While we still want more
majors, we have an immediate need for
more faculty time to develop and teach
these courses that bring real computing to all students on campus.
photograph by Cindi trainor
courses is challenging
and expensive, but
the results can
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s. How to Design Programs: An Introduction to
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5. guzdial, m. Introduction to Computing and
Programming in Python, A Multimedia Approach.
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Algorithms. addison Wesley, 1997.
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to introductory computer science for majors. ACM
SIGCSE Bulletin 40, 1 (2008), 271–275.
9. smith, d.m. Engineering Computation with MATLAB.
addison Wesley, 2007.
Mark Guzdial ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is a professor
in the College of Computing at georgia institute of
technology in atlanta, ga.
Copyright held by author.