“Computer Science 101 is such a different class then the rest of the department because it’s not part of the major, it’s not part of the minor; it is intended for people that will major in other things. It has a very different audience,” Brian Kell, a lecturer in the Computer Science department who teaches this introductory-level course, said.
The course, which takes a wide look at the field of computer science, has in recent years has been a popular divisional with sections filling-up quickly. “Knowing that people come from everywhere, that there are people that know more about other subjects, I try to put (Computer Science) in a broader context,” he said.
“You could almost rearrange the order of the class, shuffle the topics around, and still have it make sense. It is not so much that the class builds upon itself, as much as the topics each explore a different aspect of the field.”
The class, with a majority of first-year students, is intended to be general, yet link to other areas of study. “With a first-year student, who has so much of the academics ahead of them, it’s great to be able to give them a taste of the different kinds of fields of study that are out there,” Kell said, “even if they think they know where they are going.”
“I know when I came into college as a first-year student I thought I knew what I was doing. I was wrong,” he said. “College is a progression. It is about following your interests and keeping doors open.”
Thus the purpose of the class, other than fulfilling a divisional requirement, is to expose students to the broad discipline of computer science and to make them aware of the ways in which it intersects with other areas of study.
“Students recognize that knowing something about digital technologies, even if they are going to major in something else, will be helpful when they are eventually using these things,” Kell said. I hope to give everyone a better feel about how these technologies fit into all the other different fields that students are interested in.”
Computer Science 101 embodies the values of the liberal arts education. Kell has designed the class so that it interacts with other disciplines to make it beneficial to students with no intention of major in Computer Science.
“The idea of the liberal arts education is that there are many things to know, many specific topics to study, but the end goal to come out with the ability to think and reason,” he said.