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



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.