A web of resources for introductory computer science — research, education

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As the field of Computer Science has grown, the syllabus of the introductory Computer Science course has changed significantly. No longer is it a simple introduction to programming or a tutorial on computer concepts and applications. Rather, it has become a survey of the field of Computer Science, touching on a wide variety of topics from digital circuits to human- computer interaction.

Without sufficient resources, students can be overwhelmed by this broad range of topics. With sufficient resources and an interface to tame the potential flood of resources, they can better comprehend the class topics. Resources that benefit students include

– the course guide; – an extensive, well-linked, syllabus; – blackboards, transcriptions, and instructor’s notes from each class; – more in-depth notes on topics prepared by students; and – questions and tips from other students (with answers and further comments from the instructor).

This paper describes the design and creation of such a web of resources “on the fly,” while the course is being taught. The design and creation of this web touches on many issues, including mechanisms for convincing students to use the web; the balance between online hypertext and printed documents; problems and benefits of live update (the collection of resources changes frequently, as each class period generates new resources); the roles of audio and video; and, most importantly, student reactions.

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