CS Education for Tomorrow

Help Fund CS Education For Tomorrow

Over the last 40 years, the University of Maryland’s Computer Science department has helped thousands of students make a difference – to themselves and to their families, to their companies and organizations, to the state economy, and to the nation.

To continue and expand on this legacy over the next 40 years, the department must continue to improve its educational delivery, and must continue to prepare all of its students for the rapidly changing world that awaits them - a world which increasingly requires not only deep technical knowledge, but also a global perspective, and broad problem solving and collaboration skills. 


To help spur the innovation needed to meet this goal, UMD Professor Emeritus Bill Pugh issued a challenge to the department. Raise $500K over the next five years to improve CS education,  he told us, and he would match it, dollar for dollar. 

Accepting the challenge, the CS department has designed and instituted a new program, aimed at spurring educational innovation, entitled: CS Education for Tomorrow.

This program will radically transform the educational practices in use in our department. It will allow us to teach more students, teach a broader range of backgrounds, do so at lower cost, and provide even greater levels of deep, personalized and effective learning.

Organizing themes for this program include:

  • Flipped Classroom: Move rote information delivery out of the classroom and into online delivery platforms. Free up class time for deeper discussion, hands-on exploration and collaboration. 
  • Advanced Technology: Develop and use new technology to help faculty and students better manage, execute and analyze hands-on, in-classroom activities. 
  • Mastery/Competency-Based Learning: Restructure some introductory courses so that students can study more at their own pace, moving on to advanced concepts only after they’ve mastered prerequisite concepts.
  • Data-Driven Evaluation and Iterative Improvement: Collect, analyze and respond to detailed data about our current educational performance.

Fall 2013 Pilot Projects

Classroom Picture

Mastery/Competency-Based Learning (Dr. Ben Bederson)

In "Paths to Computer Science", a new introductory computer science course in Python for non-majors, Dr. Ben Bederson is applying this technique for the first time in our department (and on campus!) Students register for 1 credit at a time. They are initially exposed to the material online in a MOOC-style environment, and meet in class for pair programming and shared activities as they develop engaging projects ranging from 2D simulations to client-server programming using public web APIs.
Learn more about the course here: http://www.cs.umd.edu/~bederson/classes/paths-f13/.

photo of Adam Porter

The Flipped Classroom (Dr. Adam Porter)

In "Programming Handheld Systems", Dr. Porter has pre-records his lectures and develops an online assessment for each one. Students watch the lectures online and complete assessments before coming to class. In class, Dr. Porter answers questions and provides just-in-time explanations of the specific topics students had trouble with, based on the online assessments they completed. Students spend the rest of the class working through detailed projects and laboratory exercises that apply what they learned in the lecture.

Learn more about the course here: http://www.cs.umd.edu/class/fall2013/cmsc436.


Video Production Laboratory

The department has created a laboratory to support creating and editing videos suitable for online lecture delivery. The laboratory is designed to enable staff to produce professional level material, while minimizing production time. We also recognize that we need to support a range of video styles to accommodate both individual faculty preferences as well as the different needs of the wide variety of subject matter that is covered by the department.
The laboratory is housed in the Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Engineering. The lab’s equipment includes support for video production such as multiple video cameras, lights, and backdrop. It includes desktop class computers with significant storage for video along with screencast and video production software. It also contains two tablet computers suitable for high quality handwriting with screen capture (suitable for hand drawn figures and equations.)

Help Fund CS Education For Tomorrow