What Should We Be Teaching the Next Generation of Computer Scientists?

Times Higher Education (01/21/16) John Gilbey 

The key to educating next-generation computer scientists may lie at institutions such as Stanford University, where professor Alex Aiken cites a pressing need for computer scientists to be cognizant of the ramifications of their decisions. He says although more and more activities are being automated by technology, the demand for designers and builders of such systems is limitless. One area where computer science expertise is needed is data management/mining, and the accompanying infrastructure to support it. The incorporation of computer science into other fields suggests a need for computer scientists to cultivate interpersonal, teamworking, and management skills, and there is pressure on university courses to provide them. The Institute for the Future's Mike Leibhold is urging universities to adopt a "futures perspective" emphasizing human factors to ensure graduates stay "above the application programming interface," and are not outmoded by rapidly advancing technology. He says graduates need to be trained to think five to 10 years out so they are ahead of the technological curve, and to be educated to think non-linearly. Graduates also will need to refresh their knowledge on an ongoing basis, and evaluate the direction of both the industry and society. Moreover, they must be aware of the increasing intimacy between the end user and technology.

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