Presented by:

Clifford Anderson

from Vanderbilt University

Clifford B. Anderson is Associate University Librarian for Research and Digital Strategy at the Vanderbilt University Library. He holds a secondary appointment as Professor of Religious Studies in the College of Arts & Science at Vanderbilt University and is affiliated faculty in the Comparative Media Analysis and Practice Joint-Ph.D. program. He was also an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in the Vanderbilt University School of Engineering.

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In this short talk, we present a case study of how faculty at Vanderbilt University adapted The Beauty and Joy of Computing curriculum into an introductory computing course for non-majors and potential majors at the School of Engineering. We share how the spirit and principles of the BJC [1] guided the development of the course even as we diverged significantly from aspects of the curriculum.

Among the primary differences were the use of NetsBlox rather than Snap! as the computing environment [2]. Given the support in NetsBlox for remote procedure calls as well as distributed programming, we discuss changes to classroom exercises and summative student projects. We also share why we shifted textbooks from the venerable Blown to Bits! [3] to more recent works by Claire Evans [4] and Martin Erwig [5].

We conclude by sharing our own experiences teaching the course as digital humanist and educational technologist rather than as computer scientists and by expressing recommendations about teaching courses in computational thinking to undergraduate students of the humanities and social sciences.


[1] P. Goldenberg, J. Mark, B. Harvey, A. Cuoco, and M. Fries, “Design Principles behind Beauty and Joy of Computing,” in Proceedings of the 51st ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, Portland, OR, USA, Feb. 2020, pp. 220–226, doi: 10.1145/3328778.3366794.

[2] B. Broll et al., “A Visual Programming Environment for Learning Distributed Programming,” in Proceedings of the 2017 ACM SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, Seattle, Washington, USA, Mar. 2017, pp. 81–86, doi: 10.1145/3017680.3017741.

[3] H. Abelson, K. Ledeen, and H. Lewis, Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness After the Digital Explosion. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Addison-Wesley Professional, 2008.

[4] C. L. Evans, Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet. New York, New York: Portfolio, 2018.

[5] M. Erwig, Once Upon an Algorithm: How Stories Explain Computing. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2017.

Discuss on the Snap! Forum

30 min
Zoom 3
Snap!Con 2020
Short Talk