Code as Language: L&T&C Take 2

In 2015 we introduced a computing component into Bard’s Language and Thinking program. We will be presenting a paper about that pilot project at ITiCSE this July.

We revised the curriculum in 2016 after the first experience. We revamped the coding workshop to be taught by Bard student instructors, moved the infrastructure to github, and made it about the idea of code and language. Starting with a free-write, then moving on to a hands-on lesson in HTML & JavaScript, and ending with an optional reflection on code and language. From WEIZENBAUM to POSTMAN to STEIN, students reflected on code as language, code acts, and creativity. We are again revising it this summer for the 2017 incarnation, stay tuned …

Summer Vacation 2015: Part II (Language & Thinking)

This summer I taught a course in the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) in addition to advising undergraduate research students. I also co-developed a computing component for our Language and Thinking (L&T) program. This post covers the L&T effort, the previous post was about BPI.

Since its inception, the Bard computer science program (i.e., department) has posited that computing is a valuable and integral part of a liberal arts education. Since I have joined the program, I have adopted this mission whole-heartedly — thus, this blog. As a program, we offer a wide variety of introductory computing courses involving: the web, simulation, interactive graphics, robotics, and digital humanities. These courses expose students from many backgrounds to computational thinking, communicating algorithms to computers and people alike in PHP, Logo, Processing and Python.

Last year our college was interested in exposing all of our students to coding & computing. Given this ambition, our program thought long and hard in consultation with others around campus. A new college-wide distribution requirement? A MOOC? Hour-of-Code? Scratch? App-Inventor? Scribbler Robots?
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Summer Vacation 2015: Part I (BPI)

Many wonder what teachers and professors actually do in their free summer months. Days on the beach? Long walks in the woods? Fishing? Crabbing? Well, I did a little of that this summer, but I also had the most extraordinary, and busiest, summer so far in my career.

After teaching computer science to undergraduates at Bard for six years, this summer was a bit of a reawakening. In addition to advising great undergraduate research students via BSRI, which I do most summers, I also taught a course in the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) and co-developed a computing component for our Language and Thinking program. This post (Part I) covers BPI, and the L&T effort is up next in Part II.
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Automatons and Entertainers

As the leaves begin to change in the Hudson Valley each year, Bard’s Hannah Arendt Center puts on a fantastic, colorful and current conference, and this year was no exception. The title of this year’s two-day event was Failing Fast: The Educated Citizen in Crisis. I was not able to see all of the talks, but the sessions I attended failed to disappoint. From Stanford computer scientist and Coursera founder, Andrew Ng speaking about the potential of the MOOC’s to John Seery from Pomona College speaking about the virtues of a liberal arts education, a large range of views were put forward. Check out the conference schedule for the other speakers.

The organizers of this conference go out of their way to invite intellectuals from across the spectrum to share their views: scientists and writers, conservatives and liberals, entrepreneurs and academics. All were invited to share their views about the future of education. But like past meetings with such impressively mixed audiences, many of the messages get lost, attenuated or misconstrued as they travel between the vast intellectual space between the participants.

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(De-)Coding the Drone: A New Course

Drones: Literacy && Autonomy && Privacy

Drones have captured the public attention and discourse in a surprising way. And although the current left-right political coalition against drones in the U.S. is rare, this is not what surprises me the most. The most surprising aspect to me is the mismatch between the public’s technological perceptions and expectations of drones compared with their technological reality. Computing, Algorithms, and AI are to blame for lots of things: putting chess masters out of business, crashing satellites, overdosing cancer patients, electronic trading trouble, reading our email, judging our credit. But targeted assassination? Are the algorithms really to blame here?
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