UC Davis school of engineering just released a SCOPE programming kit that’s as good as Apple’s. No, really

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.

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