Please read this article because it’s so important, and you may not have any idea what it is. Come back later, but I don’t want to pile on, and also: come here later for the most important part: point 7 below. I happen to think computers have a dubious long-term role in education. Perhaps technology is simply a distraction from teaching. Or maybe computers are just the future of education. Or, perhaps we are in the middle of a major transition and there is no going back. Whatever the case, here’s a way to go: the computing skills available now in most classes at U.C. Davis’s School of Engineering are superior to what can be expected in a typical four-year engineering degree program.
Those skills are now available for free. This is but one of many for-profit tutorials available on Project Learner. (U.C. Davis is the largest internet course site in the U.S., according to Computerworld magazine.) And here’s a short summary of the word-trust score you get on the Project Learner discussion board: 83/100 (out of 100, 0, un-combined reviews).
Even if a few dozen reviews are over-valued, the point is straightforward: UC Davis’s teaching on this is outstanding. So this is a big deal. Computer programming, no matter who you are or what you want to do, is now available in a wide range of forms at a low cost. It’s a win for all concerned, and marks a turning point in computer education.
Vandana Narayanan is a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University. Her dissertation is on how new processing languages and programming tools contribute to artificial intelligence.