Some of you have asked us why this course has multiple instructors and whether the course will be offered again next year. So we thought we'd tell you some of the reasons for organizing this course. A course on the topics we have arranged will be part of a planned certificate in computer science for secondary teachers (see http://cs4edu.cs.purdue.edu/overview). The topics should also form the basis of a “Great Issues in CS” course that may eventually exist and satisfy the College of Science Great Issues requirement.
Offering a special topics course is relatively easy and all of us like experimenting with new courses. This, and our work on the CS teaching certificate, led to this one-credit course (which we offer in addition to our departmental teaching obligations). The topics covered are part of an ongoing discussion in Computer Science and are, we believe, interesting and relevant. We wanted the material to be accessible to every undergraduate. Students are active users of computer software and hardware, yet many non-CS students don’t know what a computer scientist does and how information technology impacts and drives what we all do.
Putting the topics together was a lot of fun. Our goal was to engage experts from across campus, not just from computer science, and we were delighted by the positive response we received. Indeed, every person we asked enthusiastically agreed to give lectures and in some cases we had to reduce the number of time slots we could offer them. We also like to experiment with different course formats and how to use the many tools out there to effectively increase collaboration and learning. This motivated using Google Docs, Blogs, and Wikis, in which students would see each other’s work. You are part of our experiment! We are happy you enrolled in this course.
We plan to offer a similar course next spring. For that, we will assess our current structure and organization and we expect to make changes that make the course even more fun and rewarding. That is one reason why we all attend class – we have little information before-hand on what each speaker will present and we do want to ensure coherence. At the end of the semester, we will ask you to complete a course survey and give us your feedback on a few specific questions.
We hope you find the course an interesting and worthwhile experience.
Susanne Hambrusch, Chris Hoffmann, and Tim Korb