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Pedagogy behind CS50

Date and Time
Tuesday, December 3, 2013 - 4:30pm to 5:30pm
Computer Science Small Auditorium (Room 105)
CS Department Colloquium Series
Brian Kernighan
CS50 is Harvard University's introductory course for majors and non-majors alike, a one-semester amalgam of courses generally known as CS1 and CS2. In 2007, we set out to alter the course's style and tone to resonate with those "less comfortable" and "more comfortable" alike, albeit without sacrificing the course's historical rigor. We maintained the course's underlying syllabus but revamped every problem set, providing students not only with more direction but context as well. And we augmented the course's support structure.

As of 2013, CS50 is Harvard's second-largest course with nearly 700 students, up from 132 in 2006, and those "less comfortable" now compose the course's largest demographic. We present in this talk what we have done and why we have done it. And we offer a glimpse of CS50x, Harvard College's first course to be offered on an even larger scale via edX.

BIO David J. Malan is a Senior Lecturer on Computer Science at Harvard University for the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He received his A.B., S.M., and Ph.D. in Computer Science from the same in 1999, 2004, and 2007, respectively. His research in graduate school focused primarily on cybersecurity and computer forensics. His more recent publications focus on instructional technologies and pedagogy. He now teaches Harvard College's introductory computer science course, Computer Science 50, otherwise known as CS50, which is available as OpenCourseWare at cs50.tv as well as via edx.org.

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