Evolution of Software Development Education – Part I: Beginning of Computing and Computing Education

by  Sanjay Goel , http://in.linkedin.com/in/sgoel

Computing in the form of processing: understanding, creation, manipulation, communication, expression, and rendering of symbols has always been a very important natural activity of human mind. Though the use of the term computing is not limited to be used in the limited context of processing of formal mathematical symbols, computer software transcends such boundaries to support processing of diverse range of symbols. With the invention of computing machines, the field of computing has advanced beyond one’s imagination. Computing has transformed many aspects of everyday lives for a vast majority of mankind. The role of computing has been evolving from enhancing efficiencies through otherwise by-passable support systems to creating real-time mission critical systems. The initial application domains driving computing till 1960s were code breaking, engineering calculations, scientific simulation, as well as repetitive data processing in defense, space, government, insurance, banking, and some other large business organizations. Some attempts of language translation and information retrieval were also made even in 1950s. Outgrowing the initial goal of doing repetitive mathematical calculations, computers have already permeated almost all spheres of human activities even including arts and sports. The socio-cultural effect of computing and communication technology is much wider, deeper, and faster than the effect of other technologies. Computing has also been used to expand our understanding of mind and reasoning.

India’s decimal number system inspired ninth century Persian mathematician Mohammed ibn Musa al-Khowarizmi to write a book on calculating using this number system. Based on his name, Algorism slowly started referring to arithmetic operations in this number system. These algorisms were strictly mechanical procedures to manipulate symbols. They could be carried out by an ignorant person mechanically following simple rules, with no understanding of the theory of operation, requiring no cleverness and resulting in a correct answer. The word Algorithm was introduced by Markov in 1954. Before the 1920s, the word computer was used for human clerks that performed computations. In 1936, Turing and Zuse independently proposed their models of the computing machine that could perform any calculation that can be performed by humans. In the late 1940s, the use of electronic digital computing machinery based on stored program architecture became common.

Late 1950s saw the arrival of high level languages. The Association of computing Machinery (ACM) was founded by Berkeley in 1947. It started its first journal in 1954. Mathematical logic and electrical engineering provided the foundation for building modern computers. The personnel training responsibility was largely taken up by the manufacturers themselves. Most early programmers were math graduates, many of them were women. In the 1950s, a large numbers of private computer schools emerged to fill the burgeoning demand. The word software was coined by John Tukey, famous statistician, in 1958. The words computer science, information systems, information technology, system analysis, and system design were being used even before. Dunn of Boeing  defined Information Technology as a body of related disciplines which lead to methods, techniques, and equipment for establishing and operating information processing systems. He also provided a simple definition of information systems as a connective link between five basic management functions of defining objectives, planning, gathering resources, execution, and control. In 1968, the computer science study group of NATO Science Committee coined the word software engineering to imply the need to transform software design and development into an engineering-type discipline. ‘

Till 1970’s, computing was often regarded as a subfield of one or more of a mixture of disciplines of mathematics, operation research, electrical engineering, statistics, industrial engineering, and management. Many of existing undergraduate programs of these disciplines were modified to accommodate some of the naturally fitting aspects of computer science. Mathematics departments taught practice and science of programming and numerical analysis. The electrical engineering department emphasized on design and construction of electronic digital computer, and management schools paid more attention of design of information systems. Initially, masters and later undergraduate degree programs and departments of computer science were emerging as offshoots of the mathematics departments in colleges of science and arts. Stanford established its computer science department in 1962, and by the late 1960s many universities in United States had started computer science departments. Concurrently, the management schools and others interested in business data processing applications focused on information systems, and started developing these programs. The engineering schools offered computer technology and computer science programs, and also computer as an option in various existing programs.

References:

1.  

Advertisements

Open Government Data *wince* it’ll take a while… Open Education – next September? No probs

by Emma Mulqueeny

Emma reviews the recent Michael Gove announcement at BETT regarding the move towards open education as opposed to traditional curricular models and mentions that

“out of all the 28,000 teachers who qualified in 2010, 3 – THREE – were computer science majors. Three chose to go into teaching, the rest chose to reward their hard-earned degree in the City, or on their own start-ups”

Leon mentions in the discussion

“What people still don’t get is that there is a massive cultural shift in progress involving how people meet and learn and that it often has nothing to do with the institutional side of education but can be co-opted by it. I know it’s unfashionable but we are talking pedagogy and epistemology here. How and why people learn what they learn and the reasons for learning. The fact that any government leaves it up for grabs means it could either be sidelined or it could be harnessed.”

Full post & discussion

 

UK education minister calls for open source curriculum!

by Graham Attwell,

The fundamental model of school education is still a teacher talking to a group of pupils. It has barely changed over the centuries, even since Plato established the earliest “akademia” in a shady olive grove in ancient Athens.

A Victorian schoolteacher could enter a 21st century classroom and feel completely at home. Whiteboards may have eliminated chalk dust, chairs may have migrated from rows to groups, but a teacher still stands in front of the class, talking, testing and questioning.

But that model won’t be the same in twenty years’ time. It may well be extinct in ten.

Technology is already bringing about a profound transformation in education, in ways that we can see before our very eyes and in others that we haven’t even dreamt of yet.

Nothing too remarkable here, and any regular reader of this blog will recognise similar ideas spouted on these pages. What is remarkable is the person who said it – the unpopular Minster of Education for England, Michael Gove, in a speech at the opening of BETT, the UK education technology exhibition.

This was a long awaited speech, given that Gove has said little about educational technology since the Con-Dem coalition government came to power. In a speech which seemed to go down well with the ed-tech community on twitter but was criticised by teachers union leaders, Gove went on to say:

  • The present IT national curriculum for schools would be abolished leaving schools freedom to design their own curriculum. From September this year schools will be free to use the “amazing resources” that already exist and will exist on the web.
  • Games and interactive software can help pupils acquire complicated skills
  • He wants to see the introduction new courses of study in computer science
  • We should “look at the school curriculum in a new way, and consider how new technological platforms can help to create new curriculum materials in a much creative and collaborative way than in the past
  • Rather than concentrate on hardware procurement we should focus on improving initial teacher training and continual professional development for teachers in educational technology

Gove said three main things that technology can do for learning:

  • Disseminate knowledge incredibly widely.
  • Change the way teachers teach, with adaptive software personalising learning.
  • Allow teachers to assess pupils in more complex and sophisticated ways.

Gove went on to talk about an open-source curriculum saying:

Advances in technology should also make us think about the broader school curriculum in a new way.

In an open-source world, why should we accept that a curriculum is a single, static document? A statement of priorities frozen in time; a blunt instrument landing with a thunk on teachers’ desks and updated only centrally and only infrequently?

It all seems a bit too good to be true. And of course a lot depends on how these chnages mucght be implemented and vitally what support and funding is avaiable to schools.

A website – schooltech..org.uk – has been launched to discuss the new proposals. Bernadette Brooks
General Manager of Naace and Seb Schmoller Chief Executive, Association for Learning Technology (ALT) explained the reasons for the consultation:

The effective use of technology has great potential to support better teaching and learning, but there are important questions arising from the opportunities presented by new technologies. For example: how teachers can best develop the right skills; how learning is organised and delivered; and how education can be agile in adapting to new technology developments. This is an important opportunity to discuss and understand the implications.

The site contains, initially, some “stimulus questions” suggested by DFE, which can be discussed by the posting of comments. During March Naace and ALT will work together to produce a report which we will share with DFE that draws on the discussion that we hope will now ensue.

We hope that parents, teachers, technology developers and practitioners, policy people, researchers, students, people from industry and any others with an interest in and experience of this field will join the conversation.

You can add your ideas on the consultation web site. Or of course you can just add a comment here :)   I will be coming back to some of the issues raised by Gove’s announcement in further blog posts over the next week.

Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2011: “Open”

by Audrey Watters

When I made my 10 tech predictions for 2011 for RWW last year, I included the following:

6. Openly-licensed content – open education resources, open source, open data – will thrive, as more people question outmoded intellectual property laws. Nonetheless, there’ll still be patent and copyright infringement lawsuits aplenty.

Looking back on 2011, I don’t really feel like I can pat myself on the back about that prediction. I don’t think I can cheer, “woohoo, I got it right.” What I wrote was so very bland and vague. And while I can chronicle all sorts of interesting developments in openly licensed content this year, I’m not sure that verb I chose in December 2010 — “thrive” — is quite the right one for December 2011. Have we really seen intellectual property laws questioned this year (See: Andy Baio’s article “No Copyright Intended“)? Or are we seeing them re-inscribed (See: SOPA)?

That’s not to say that 2011 hasn’t been an important year for openly-licensed content, open educational resources, open source, open access. Indeed, it’s been quite an interesting year for the adjective “open.”

A retrospective:

JANUARY: The Departments of Labor and Education announced a $2 billion program to help build educational and career-training materials. The stipulation: the materials have to be licensedCreative Commons CC BY, making them available to be openly shared and remixed.

FEBRUARY: LMS upstart Instructure released the source code for Canvas, its learning management system software.

The first strategic meeting was held for Open Educational Resource University (OERu), a system under development by the OER Foundation to make it possible for students to gain academic credit by studying open educational resources.

MARCH: Federal Judge Denny Chin threw out the Google Books settlement, rejecting the deal that Google had made with the authors and publishers over its digitization efforts. (Not a ruling about openness per se, but definitely a ruling about ownership.)

APRIL: MIT OCW turned 10. (For an interesting read, check out the announcement back in 2001 in The New York Times.)

JUNE: Federal legislation was introduced in Brazil that would require that government funded educational projects be openly licensed. And the Sao Paolo Department of Education also mandated that all its educational content be released under the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial Share-Alike license.

JULY: Activist and early Reddit-er Aaron Swartz was indicted for downloading some 4 millionJSTOR articles from the MIT library.

SEPTEMBER: JSTOR announced that it making all its early journal content freely available — because, ya know, it’s not copyrighted — including all JSTOR articles published prior to 1923 in the U.S. and prior to 1870 elsewhere in the world. (Thanks Aaron Swartz!)

OCTOBER: Washington launched the Open Course Library which makes openly-licensed content available as a (potential) textbook replacement for 81 of the state’s most popular college classes.

Pearson announced OpenClass, prompting me to use an Admiral Ackbar image in my storyabout the education company’s “free and open” LMS.

Language in a House Appropriations Bill appeared to strip federal funding for OER in any Department of Labor materials. (See January. Marvel at lobbying efforts.)

LMS giant Blackboard announced its support for OER, making it possible for faculty to sharetheir course materials. The company also said it was revising its policies so that institutions that do open up their course materials this way don’t incur any additional licensing costs when people access the materials, even via webinars and the like.

NOVEMBER: Khan Academy (undeniably one of the biggest OER stories of the yearraised $15 million to expand its faculty/platform/facility.

DECEMBER: Chrome surpassed the open source browser Firefox in market share for the first time. (IE remains the world’s most popular browser.)

Prooposed legislationin California will allocate $25 million to create the California Digital Open Source Library, a library of 50 free and openly-licensed college textbooks.

Reading through this list of events — which I realize is just a very partial picture of everything that falls under the label “open” and which really does contain a good amount of “good news,” I still can’t help but feel that 2011 was sort of a mixed bag. I am sure that OER will be on lots of folks’ lists of most important education trends of the year. And I don’t mean to say that it isn’t.

But I have this suspicion that some of the progress we’ve made towards “open” only exists at the surface or very fringes. I think we’re in store for lots of conflict over what constitutes “open” — how it’s funded, how it’s labeled and licensed, who mandates “what counts.” I don’t mean to complicate a post of 2011 trends with musings about 2012. In fact, I’d see some of these conflicts bubbling beneath the surface all year — it’s in the lawsuits and the funding battles and the business model and marketing plan re-writes.

What does it mean — culturally, pedagogically, politically, financially — that Stanford garners so much buzz for its free online courses while other MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) go unheralded? Will more universities offer opencourseware and demand open access? Will government funds help promote OER? Will these funding efforts subsidize open content from a closed set of “common” standards? Will “open” become the magical marketing term that giant education companies adopt? What happens to the open Web when companies like Facebook, Apple, and Amazon want to attract consumers to their Internet silos, and similarly what happens to open content when publishers must scramble to adapt their business models to a digital world? What does it mean — culturally, technologically, philosophically — for example, that Google’s Chrome browser has now surpassed the open source browser Firefox for market share? Do folks really care if something is “open”?