Flipping the Traditional Computer Science Classroom

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Alexander Kulikov

(CSE Colloquium Lecture Series)

Flipping the Traditional Computer Science Classroom

Speaker: Alexander Kulikov, Senior Research Fellow, Steklov Mathematical Institute
Date: Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Time: 11am
Location: Room 1202, CSE Building
Host: CSE Prof. Pavel Pevzner (ppevzner@eng.ucsd.edu)

Abstract:  While educational psychologists agree that a large traditional one-to-many classroom is minimally effective, I have been teaching in the same way my professors taught me when I was a student. A few years ago I realized that it has to change and started teaching flipped classes to maximize my interactions with students. Little did I know that flipping a single Algorithms class will take about 3000 hours and will forever change my view of CS education.

I realized that a traditional lecture in a large CS class has a rather small added value (as compared to a video of the same class) and that it accounts for a small fraction of the learning process. Since students mainly learn outside the classroom, I decided to invest efforts in the development of an automated system for HW testing that includes a compendium of 10-20 most frequent errors for each of 100 HWs in our Algorithms specialization on Coursera. I will discuss how these system may contribute to flipped offline classes and will describe our recent progress with development of interactive quizzes for various CS courses. The goal of such quizzes is to force students to “invent” classical CS concepts (active learning) instead of introducing them in a lecture (passive learning). E.g., we want students to invent the binary search by analyzing an unknown sequence of 20 binary numbers starting from 0 and ending in 1. Students may reveal any number by clicking on it and the goal is to find a pair of different consecutive numbers using less than six clicks. Our goal is to develop 100 such interactive quizzes covering Discrete Mathematics, Algorithms, and other courses.

Bio:  Alexander S. Kulikov is a senior research fellow at St. Petersburg Department of Steklov Mathematical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and a lecturer at St. Petersburg Academic University. His scientific interests include algorithms for NP-hard problems and circuit complexity. He is one of the authors of the Data Structures and Algorithms specialization at Coursera.