Tuesday, September 7, 2010

UCSD APCS Principles Pilot Course: Lectures

Following up on my previous post about the UCSD implementation of the pilot APCS Principles course under Beth Simon, here is an on the ground report into some of our most recent discussions about lecture development, and with that, more background material about the approach the course will take:

Lectures: As I reported, Beth will be delivering interactive clicker based Peer Instruction (she reminds me that I can refer the interested reader to additional information on the use of clickers).  Beth is looking at different ways to integrate societal concerns into her lectures - this is going to be fun and challenging at the same time. You see, ideally, the lectures will include excellent examples of computing applications (among other possibilities) that are being used for good or ill (balance is desired) and that will plug into the course content on a given day. Beth has been doing some digging into previously published material. Another area that we may draw upon is the research I have been doing recently into computing centric, socially beneficial "real world" projects. Alternately, we may look for inspiration to other schools' curricular implementation of projects in "Computers and Society" courses. Or........as you can see, the conversation is just beginning. What is the most fruitful way to smoothly integrate societally interesting (from the students pov) issues into the lecture material?

Speaking of the material, I should mention that our base applications will be Alice for about 2/3 of the term, followed by Excel for approximately the last 1/3 of the term. These applications were chosen after several years worth of meetings (started prior to the APCS Principles project coming into existence) with the divisions who traditionally require this course for their students.  Psychology specifically requested Excel for their majors, and representatives from a wide range of perspectives that represent the freshmen decided that Alice should work nicely for the non computing (so far :)  first-years. Alice, smoothly transitioning into Excel while following the ideals of the APCS Principles project. And don't forget those 750 students :)

Next posts will continue most likely, with some discussion of labs and assessment development.

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