Digital Natives, Online Learning, and the Production of Capable Computer Science Graduates: The Case for Virtual Synchronous Learning Activities
The context of this talk includes the problematic enrollment trends of students in computer science programs nation-wide, the dire consequences for economic and physical security such trends potentially entail, and rapidly changing University course delivery modes. Within this context, this work will include some thoughts regarding how best to go about educating "digital native" students in introductory programming courses to foster basic skill development, interest in the field, and retention. Although delivery of introductory computer science courses has traditionally involved significant face-to-face teaching and mentoring, one view of these activities is that they entail digital immigrant teaching strategies applied to digital native learners. Additionally, online course delivery raises particular challenges in technical fields including how genuine mentoring can be achieved, the preferences of learners for technology-based learning, the quality of learning that is achieved through various means and its assessment, and the development of the types of communication and interpersonal skills that have become so important for computer specialists. This presentation will address these issues in turn to develop a case for virtual synchronous learning activities, to relate some of the author's experiences with synchronous meeting software, and to foster discussion of effective virtual synchronous strategies in technical fields.
Keywords: Computer Science Education, Digital Natives, Distance Learning, Synchronous Virtual Learning Activities, Student Retention, Learning Outcomes
Dr. John W. Coffey
Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science, The University of West Florida