Monday, February 25, 2013

Trends in Computing Education

On 22nd Feb 2013, I was one among the fifty participants at a 1-day workshop on Trends in Computing Education at Goa University. The department of Computer Science and Technology of Goa University had invited me to deliver a session on ‘Industry Trends and Challenges of Next Generation IT Professionals’ in this 1-day workshop.

What impressed me was the participation from several top ranking institutions including IIT and BITS. The workshop started with a welcome address by Dr. P. R. Rao and opening remarks by Prof. Ramrao Wagh. The first session was by Prof. Pushpak Bhattacharyya (IIT, Mumbai) about education and best practices at IIT. According to him, it is easy to have world-class syllabus with great text books and reference books for each course. However, motivating the students is challenging as well as important. Students are motivated when they see value or currency in their work or when they are able to visualize the larger context or big picture. He emphasized on the need to link courses with labs to create coding experience among students. This is because students identify themselves with labs (such as Business Intelligence Lab, Artificial Intelligence Lab, Cloud Computing Lab, etc.). Also, he suggested that courses on humanities be included in computing education. Of course, courses on humanities nurture written communication and other soft skills which are essential for all students.

Later Prof. Bharat Deshpande, BITS Pilani (Goa Campus) shared his experience and views on benchmarking and restructuring engineering programs. He shared not only his experience but also his views on the pros and cons of different approaches. The next session was by Dr. Louis Mesquita (Padre Conceicao College of Engineering, Verna) and Prof. Lakshiminarayan Jal (Goa Engineering College). They presented their recommendations and also put forward intriguing practical issues. Though their session was just before the lunch break, all participants were immersed in the core aspects and points presented by them. The right mix of humor and storytelling made their session very interesting.

After lunch we had a 2-hour focus on industry. I enjoyed all of them including mine and so did the participants. Suhas Mallya (EMCO) delivered a session titled ‘The Economics and Culture of Change: Staying relevant in a fast-paced industry’ and Sidhesh Kurade (Persistent Systems) shared his experience on working with graduates from Goa University. These sessions were equally intense and added value to the workshop. After a brief tea break after these sessions, Mr. Anil Kher (CII, Goa) shared his perspectives on the industry and the need of the academia. Later, Dr. Venkatesh Kamat came on stage to put forward some recommendations and share the next set of actions to complete this initiative.

I see this 1-day workshop as a stepping stone of one of the big initiatives by the department of Computer Science and Technology, Goa University to align the structure and delivery of curriculum with the research world and IT industry.

Big thanks and appreciations to all organizers for making this happen! This is the need of the hour for all our institutions.