Class Meetings: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4:10-5:25 p.m., in 227 CIT
Roger B. Blumberg
Department of Computer Science
Objectives of Seminar:
The first objective of this seminar is to bring together students
interested in computer programming and education for a discussion of
the design, production, and use of educational technology in
general, and educational software in particular.
The seminar will cover a broad range
of topics, including the the history of classroom technology in
the US, theories of learning, paradigms of instructional
the evaluation of educational
technology, the sociology of classrooms and schools as it
relates to attitudes concerning technology, the process of
authoring educational software, and the state of the art in
A second objective of the seminar is to synthesize approaches and
considerations in software design with those of educational theory and
practice, through the project teams' experiences observing and working
with teachers. Combining principles with practice is always difficult,
especially when you are under constraints imposed by a client,
but it is crucial to the work of both theorists and practitioners, and we
expect you to fill both roles.
The third objective is to promote and develop sound analytical
and design skills for educational software. This will be accomplished
through the study of educational software design criteria,
including pedagogical, cognitive and aesthetic theories, as well as the
use of empirical studies to infer principles of successful design.
The three objectives will be pursued in parallel during the semester. Analytical skills will be sharpened and awareness heightened as relevant topics and applications are presented, discussed, and critiqued. These issues will be presented through the readings and discussions by members of the seminar, by guest lecturers and guided discussions, and of course by your experiences in the classroom and with your project team. We expect that the final products of the semester -- the implementation of your educational software in local classrooms -- will exhibit a synthesis of these objectives.
Why a Seminar?
While it would be possible to teach this course through a series of lectures, we believe the objectives of the course, the variety of the topics covered, and the diversity of the perspectives and abilities of the students who typically enroll in CS92, make the seminar a more desirable and effective model. In a seminar, all students are active participants and have intellectual responsibilities to each other, and the goal of a seminar, as opposed to a lecture, is to have each student advance his/her understanding rather than merely absorb a particular body of material. As "educational software" is not an intellectual discipline so much as an activity that draws on numerous disciplines, it will be up to the students in the seminar to synthesize the material from these different disciplines and propel the discussion as they think most appropriate.
People to Know
Roger B. Blumberg is a Lecturer in the Computer Science Department and is teaching the Seminar. A former New York City public high school teacher, he was an Associate in Science at Columbia College for many years, teaching the general education science course "Theory and Practice of Science". His college teaching experience also includes courses and seminars in the history and philosophy of science at Empire State Labor College and Eugene Lang College at the New School for Social Research in New York, as well as a "core curriculum" Humanities course at Columbia. In 1996 and 1997, he was Senior Hypermedia Researcher at Brown's Scholarly Technology Group, working with the U.S. Department of Education's Regional Technology consortium, NetTech, which provides technical assistance to K-12 educators throughout the Northeastern U.S. As the author of MendelWeb, he has been involved in the development of Web resources for K-12 science and mathematics education since 1994. Finally, since coming to Brown, he has been a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Brain and Neural Systems, and was a Senior Fellow at the Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning at Brown (1999-2000). In addition to his current work at Brown, he teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design, in the History, Philosophy and Social Sciences Department. Finally, he continues to teach secondary school mathematics in Columbia's Summer Program for High School Students each July.
Ben White, Ranyee Chiang, Ross Lipsky and Will Heublein are the Teaching Assistants in CS92 this year. All have taken CS92 and have been involved in extremely successful projects. On a more personal note, I've had good TAs in past years, but this is the first semester I've been able to recruit TAs who have all taken CS92 with me and done extremely well, and I'm thrilled with the staff.
One TA will be
assigned to each project group. Throughout the development of your final
project, weekly meetings with your TA will provide guidance and feedback on
your progress and direction.
Roger x37619, firstname.lastname@example.org
Please feel free to get in touch with us about any problem that you may
have with the course or to ask for help with any of the ideas
presented in class, the readings, or the assignments.
What you learn and gain from the Seminar will depend largely on
the time and
effort to put into the class.
Our belief is that in order to absorb and
understand all this material you must be prepared for each class and
actively participate in the discussions. Similarly, you will need to
commit yourself to the work of your project team.
participation is an essential component of the Seminar, attendance
should be considered
mandatory and your participation will be
a significant part of your grade in
the course. Your final grade will be determined by your participation
in the seminar,
your software/technology evaluation assignment,
and your work on all the components of the final project.
This course is a very different sort of enterprise than most CS courses,
and in order for you to have a successful time of it, the seminar will
have to hold a
high priority in your schedule. Your careful attention to the
seminar materials will determine the quality of our discussions, and
your interactions with
teachers reflect not only on you, but also on the Computer Science
Department and Brown as a whole. Many university-school technology
projects involving have failed because of an insensitivity to the realities
of schools' and teachers' needs. We are depending on you to show your
commitment to the
goals and methods of the course, and to do your best to
establish a good and creative working relationship with your teacher.
In addition to the teaching staff, your team partners in the
seminar will serve as your partners throughout the creation of your
software project. They will also act as a sounding board for your ideas, will
sincerely but constructively critique your every decision in putting
together your design, and will otherwise support you as a colleague. You
will, of course, critique your partners' portions of the work, and your
final project should reflect this mutual criticism. Being able to work in
a group is a skill that is often
underestimated. You will need to be
conscious of your group's dynamics, and may need to solve difficult
problems and resolve
conflicts so that you can deliver you final product on time.
Another person assisting you will be your sponsoring teacher. You
will work with this teacher on a constant basis throughout the semester.
In fact, you should think of the teacher as the lead member of your design
team. The teacher will actively assist you in designing a piece of
educational software for his or her students. You should feel comfortable
asking for advice (based on his or her experience in teaching the subject)
on how to structure and present the material, how to evaluate the
students' understanding of it, and how the software will fit into the
classroom. This relationship should be built over time, and your mutual
goal should be to present your work as part of the teacher's class by
The Course Readings
It is in the nature of a seminar to make texts the anchors of discussion.
As we will be surveying topics drawn from computer science, cognitive
science and the history and philosophy of education, there will be a good
deal of reading, but we believe all of it is potentially inspiring. Each
student will have the responsibility of leading the discussion about the
readings in at least one class session, but everyone is
expected to do all of the assigned reading before each class.
When doing the
reading, you should bear in mind issues you might want to discuss during
the seminar, and come prepared to raise these issues.
In a seminar, it is unfortunately obvious who has and who has not done
the reading, and the discussion will
suffer a great deal when you are not prepared.
The required books for the seminar are available in the Bookstore, and most
of these are also on reserve at the Rock or in the Science Library.
articles will either be available in class, at Graphic Services, or on the
Web. The Reserve lists include books that are not required but may be
useful to particular projects and/or students who wish to investigate one
of the seminar topics in greater depth.
It is suggested that you have
an ability to program, such as you would get from an
introductory CS class like cs2, cs4, cs15, or even a high school
programming class. If you have never programmed but are still interested
in taking the course, we encourage you to do so, but it will require a
concerted effort on your part to get up to speed. Previous education
courses are not a prerequisite, though we expect you to have an interest
in educational issues, and here too you will need to make the time to
get up to speed. Finally, regardless of your academic background(s), you
must be open to working with and learning from a "client," in this
case a local teacher and the people with whom you share the seminar.
Assignments and Due Dates
In addition to being responsible for presenting the readings at one class
session, there is an evaluation exercise, and components of the final
project (described in the syllabus). The course runs on a tight schedule
and due dates will be strictly observed.
Participation and Presentation
The seminar provides a chance for you to express and explore a variety of
ideas concerning computers and education, and you
and your group will give presentations to the seminar
during the semester about the progress of your work. We expect that you
will try hard to articulate your views during the seminar, and will respect
and feel obliged to respond to the views of others. Participation in a
seminar is a learning experience regardless of the subject matter, and we
recognize that, if you have never been in a seminar setting before, it
may take time to find a style that is both successful and
satisfying for you and for your classmates.
Unlike other CS courses, this course depends on a particular type of
collaboration. To complete your project, you are expected to work with the
members of your team, your group's TA, and your sponsoring teacher. To
complete the ambitious goals we have set, we will need a high degree of
cooperation. If you are having problems with the dynamics of your group,
please see your TA immediately. Obviously, the collegial collaboration of
people sharing ideas to assist one another is very much encouraged.