Challenges and Opportunities of Interdisciplinary Computer Science Education

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Nov 21, 2013 (3 years and 27 days ago)

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Challenges
and Opportunities of

Interdisciplinary
Computer Science Education


Jiannong Cao

Internet & Mobile Computing Lab

Department of Computing

Hong Kong Polytechnic University


Email: csjcao@comp.polyu.edu.hk

http://www.comp.polyu.edu.hk/~csjcao/



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Outline


What is computer science
as a
discipline?


How do we identify ourselves?


Is there a
need of interdisciplinary education in CS
?


What are the challenges and opportunities
?

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Computer science concerns itself with the nature of
algorithms and computations it spans both theory and
practice:

-
Computational representation of abstract concepts

-
Computability

-
Computational complexity

-
Design, definition and implementation of programming languages

-
Nature of abstraction and specification

-



It underpins more than the above:

-
New areas of mathematical study, e.g., logic

-
Computational thinking

-
Computational tools and experiments

What is CS as a discipline?

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Its perimeter has broaden, its scope and focus have
changed continuously over the past 70 years


Shift of focus from algorithms and programs to systems

-
h
ighly dynamic depending on characteristics of execution
platform

-
Increasingly integrated and interacting with the physical
environment

-
Cross
-
layer and cyber
-
physical co
-
design

What is CS as a discipline?

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More than any other discipline, CS is driven by
applications and progress in technology.

-
Applications impose domain
-
specific requirements

-
New technologies deemed existing solutions
obsolete

What is CS as a discipline?

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Users nowadays are part of the computing systems,
some of them are even computer programmers


Many other disciplines build their own IT / Computing
infrastructure, have their own programming tools, and
develop their own applications


Identity crisis?


How to define the territory of CS?


What are our roles as computer scientists?


Where the field is going?

How do we identify ourselves
?

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Computing

is

the computer
-
specific part
of IT

but

it is involved in all the parts


IT

is the technology that
helps to produce,
manipulate, store,
communicate, and
disseminate information”

Computer
Technology

Material

Science

Use of IT

(Applications …)

Communication
Technology

How do we identify ourselves
?

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Our mission as Computer Scientists?

How do we identify ourselves
?

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Computing is interdisciplinary in nature

-
Knowledge and technology in other fields

-
Requirements in application domains

-
Knowledge about people as users (CHI)


Without learning and being equipped with knowledge
in fields that help us to create better computers, we
cannot advance CS


Without clear understanding of domain knowledge, we
cannot make solutions and systems effective.



Without understanding the users, we cannot develop
“user
-
centered” systems.

The need of interdisciplinary education

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Creativity often requires interdisciplinary knowledge


Many intellectual, social and practical problems require
interdisciplinary approaches


Help attract more people to the field and improve
retention


The need of interdisciplinary education

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Changing our mentality from wishing for more academic
prestige to wishing for changing people’s life.


Changing the idea that CS is more on “thinking about
computing in the abstract” than “thinking about novel
ways to design and build computer systems that match
reality”


Learning about commercial / practical products and
understanding their limits


Bridging communication gaps and fragmented disciplines

Challenges and Opportunities

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Students are not taught much about how to approach
practical solutions to real
-
world problems, working with
people from other disciplines

-
CS
curricula seldom recognize importance of interdisciplinary
education

-

Difficult to develop CS textbooks with true interdisciplinary
examples and projects.


It
is
very hard
to create a real interdisciplinary program

-
Not
only double
majors, major/minors, but

join
degree

-
Teaching, faculty development
, assessment

-
Structural barriers: institutional support, curriculum
development and assessment, faculty attitude, etc.



Challenges and Opportunities

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ACM
/ IEEE CS Curricula 2012

-
CS is rapidly changing field, drawing from and contributing to
variety of
disciplines

-

Able to bridge to multi
-
disciplinary
work


US NSF funded workshops to identify strategies for
increasing and maintaining enrolment, improving the quality
og

computing education

-
Integrative Computing Education and Research (ICER)

-
Strengthen interdisciplinary connections

-
Increase interdisciplinary collaboration

-
Strengthen industry involvement


Efforts on developing interdisciplinary computing

Challenges and Opportunities

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