Computer Science Education as a High Performance, Multi-Generational Community of Practice

Higher education is in trouble, and 4K lecture video is not the answer

  • All classes are “flipped”. Lectures and other materials are available on-demand. There can be synchronous activities during classroom hours for students to practice material and obtain real-time feedback. These synchronous activities could be online or in the classroom. For undergraduates (i.e. novices), it is appropriate for the degree experience to not be entirely online, but to also include face-to-face interaction in a classroom.
  • All curriculum is organized into modules. These modules are 1–2 weeks in duration, for a total of 8–16 per semester. Each module will contain backward references to prerequisite modules in other courses, and forward references to modules in future courses that will depend upon it.
  • All curriculum is “radically transparent”. A student in the introductory class can access all curriculum materials for all future classes at any time. Lurking in future classes can help them develop interest areas and also see the importance of developing competency in their current courses.
  • Curriculum is under version control. Access to all prior versions of a class curriculum are preserved and available to community members. Community members can compare the course at the time they took it to the current version of the course. Teachers are expected to update course materials on a regular basis to maintain consistency with the state of practice.
  • Materials are managed through a novel curriculum management framework. This framework supports module organization, multiple access levels, and versioning. This technology does not yet exist and must be implemented, but the Morea Framework provides a starting point.
  • Communications are managed through a novel community of practice communications framework. I believe the best choice at present is a Discord server, augmented with custom bots for user and content management. This proposed community of practice for computer science at UHM will start at approximately 750 users and increase by approximately 100 users per year.
  • Access to and involvement in the community does not end when a student graduates. Instead, graduates are encouraged and incentivized to remain active in the community, though subsequent involvement will normally take place entirely online. A subscription model, with premium tiers, enables graduates to re-take old courses as their content evolves. Graduates can also review and comment on the relevancy of current course material, and flag material that has become inconsistent with current best practices and standards.

A tale of two communities

Transforming Computer Science at UHM into a high performance, multi-generational community of practice

  • All classes are flipped.
  • Curriculum is organized into modules, radically transparent, and under version control.
  • Novel technologies for curriculum and communication management increase access and engagement, both during the degree program and afterwards.
  • New subscription models enable graduates to retain access to old and new curriculum content without the commitment to an entire degree program.

What about research?

Implementation, funding, revenue

Appendix: Technology Infrastructure: Morea Framework

Appendix: Technology Infrastructure: Discord




Professor of Computer Science at the University of Hawaii

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