Changes in teaching and learning computer science in the last 20 years

old computer

From the moment computers were invented, they have not stopped evolving. The constant demand in the market for upgrades in equipment and programming has required those in the computer science field to constantly update their skills as well. Over the last twenty years, the evolution of computers in general is astronomic. Computers have grown by leaps and bounds from where they first began, and the capabilities that we have at our fingertips are far beyond what they were twenty years ago. The average person can do so much more using technology than they could previously. Those with an education in computer science and programming knowledge are the ones who are making this growth possible for the rest of us.

The changes in the necessary courses one would take for a degree and career in computer science are so great; it almost makes more sense to ask how they have NOT changed. Teaching the youth of today with the knowledge we currently have will make it possible for them to become the programmers of tomorrow. The possibilities are endless as to where technology will take us and where we will be twenty years from now.

Here are just a few of the areas of study in the computer science field and some of the changes they have seen.

Computer graphics

Computer graphics is a sub-division of computer science focusing on the way images appear on your computer screen, using image processing, and two and three dimensional graphics. One only has to remember their first computer and its graphics and compare it to the newer versions of today to understand the incredible growth this field has seen. As the capabilities of computers evolve and the programming becomes more complex, the nature of the graphics and their programming evolves as well. Better screens and color allow for sharper images and the development of new programming is putting a constant demand on a higher level of graphics. This is a field of study that will be constantly evolving, and the coursework will be as well.

Computer programming

Those with an education in computer programming are the ones creating the software and programs and debugging systems when they go down. As the computer world expands and the need for more complex software develops, so does the need for programmers with the skills to make those programs a reality. Programming is considered an area with endless possibilities, with the freedom to create literally anything, all one needs is the understanding of the “language” and a bit of creativity, mixed with a great deal of skill of course, and anything is possible. Twenty years ago, the lessons in this field were more driven towards providing the necessary skills for basic programming, now they have evolved to include much more complicated sequences and knowledge to help multiple servers and programs communicate and work as one, among other things.

Computer-human interaction

When you consider that computers for the most part are designed to aid humans in everyday tasks and to provide an outlet for design and communication between them, it seems that this field of study may prove to be one of the most necessary and important ones. The courses and labs that teach and provide research opportunities of specific interactive programs and technologies are responsible for most of the newer developments within the field. These courses receive government funding in order to allow students to constantly be fine tuning programs, making them more functional for the everyday user. Twenty years ago, this research was happening, but it was not necessarily at the level it is today and the programs that exist and what they are capable of are growing by the day. There is a constant need to keep up with these developments, and therefore the courses responsible for this work are constantly receiving new challenges and thus teaching new skills.

Computation Complexity theory

Computation complexity theory is the study of what computers can and cannot do, and knowing how to fix them when they stop functioning properly. Twenty years ago, knowing how to diagnose problems based on simple numbers and algorithms may have been sufficient; however, with the growth of computer capacity and storage space, and the use of multiple servers, problem diagnosis and the solutions to these problems have grown increasingly difficult. It is necessary for courses to update solutions and methods for diagnosis constantly. As the systems themselves become more complex and difficult to program, the knowledge required to do such programming also becomes much more complicated and involved.

Guest Author George Gallagher is a writer who contributes to a handful of websites on the topic of education. He also helps students navigate the world of student loans by giving them advice on which banks and loan types are apporpriate for them after they exhaust their government aid options.

One thought on “Changes in teaching and learning computer science in the last 20 years

  1. For me, AI is one aspect of Computer Science that has really changed over the course of years. I remember only seeing robots in movies before but now robots are actually existing in computer science laboratories!

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