Monday, May 9, 2011

Interdisciplinary Computing Meeting Number 2: Day 2, Part 2

This is my last direct report post about the meeting, although I hope to follow up with some interesting related posts that came out of this meeting. In this post I'm going to list some of the "hard questions" that stakeholders could ask about Interdisciplinary Computing (IC) development. These questions came out of one of our breakout sessions. I have several pages of questions, so I'll pick some representative interesting, challenging or just plain important ones.

Our group was trying to come up with the toughest questions that anyone considering IC development should be prepared to answer. In a few cases I will suggest starting points for answers, but in most cases I leave it to you to ponder. The answers will need to be tailored to who is asking the question and in what type of institution the IC program/course is being considered. I hope that if you grapple with these questions you will be inspired to think outside the box and feel inspired.

I will end with a few reading recommendations given to me at the meeting. I have not read these books yet, but they are high up there on the list; I'll share them now and we'll see how they turn out. If anyone has read these books and has comments, I'd love to hear them.

First. Who are those IC stakeholders? They include: Administrators (of various types), Industry, Parents, Faculty, Students, Alumni, Governance agencies (Legislators, Accreditors)

Possible Questions From Administration: 

Question: What is the impact on the department(s), major(s), what is the cost for equipment, resources of developing an IC course (not even a program)? Multiple questions rolled into one....

[Answer could center on this point (and data will need to be assembled to back it up): We will increase the enrollment to the institution. We will not just shift students from one area to another. This statement can then be expanded upon to address all the sub-questions (impact, costs etc)]

Question: How does IC fit into high stakes testing? How does it fit into existing standards, mandated or currently culturally accepted?

Question / Problem From Industry: What happens if an industry panel gets together and says "no, we aren't going to hire your students, we don't like what you are doing".

[The response would involve improved communication between those developing the program and industry and getting a handle on where this statement was coming from.]

Question from Parents: What is the ROI (Return On Investment)? What exactly is my child going to be when they graduate? What kind of job are they going to get? What is the time to graduation? [more multiple questions coming back to back but all centering on the first piece - ROI]

Question from new Faculty: How am I going to get tenure? Where will I publish?

Question that could come from a variety of sources: How does this contribute to workforce development? Prove it (the economic development the IC course/program will produce).

Problem / Question: IC programs are for people who can't hack it in either discipline.

[I personally have heard this one said. It represents an entrenched pov based not so much in any factual evidence but on personal opinion. That makes it challenging to address. But addressed it must be]

Things to chew on.

Now for the book recommendations. Uplifting, gets my intellectual bookworm instincts going full steam and a good way to finish this post:

"Innovator's Dilemma". Looks really interesting. There are two follow up books that look interesting as well: "Innovator's Solution" and "Crossing the Chasm". I'm looking forward to sinking my teeth into these. The orientation appears to be towards business rather than academia, but from perusing the first book quite a bit online, it looks like the principles could well be transferable. And check out the TOC - definitely not dull.

"Creating Interdisciplinary Campus Cultures". Now this one is definitely aimed at academia and looks like it might have some very practical suggestions. I can see reading Innovator's Dilemma and then this one. A possible interdisciplinary synthesis of perspectives and ideas.

Have a nice Tuesday.

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