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Home Events Events Archive 2013 November 7, 2013 - CS 201: Myths about MOOCs and Software Engineering Education, DAVID PATTERSON, UC Berkeley

November 7, 2013 - CS 201: Myths about MOOCs and Software Engineering Education, DAVID PATTERSON, UC Berkeley

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  • Seminar
When Nov 07, 2013
from 04:15 PM to 05:45 PM
Where 3400 Boelter Hall
Contact Name
Contact Phone 310 825-4033
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Myths about MOOCs and Software Engineering Education

Prof David Patterson

UC Berkeley



This talk explains how the confluence of cloud computing and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have allowed us greatly improve both the effectiveness and the reach of UC Berkeley's undergraduate software engineering course.  The first part of the talk is motivated by Industry's long-standing complaint that academia ignores vital software topics, leaving students unprepared upon graduation. Traditional approaches to software development are neither supported by tools that students could readily use, nor appropriate for projects whose scope matched a college course. Hence, instructors traditionally lecture about software engineering topics, while students continue to build software more or less the way they always had, in practice relegating software engineering to little more than a project course. This sad but stable state of affairs is frustrating to instructors, boring to students, and disappointing to industry.

Happily, cloud computing and the shift in the software industry towards software as a service has led to highly-productive tools and techniques that are a much better match to the classroom than earlier software development methods. That is, not only has the future of software been revolutionized, it has changed in a way that makes it easier to teach.   UC Berkeley’s revised Software Engineering course leverages this productivity to allow students to both enhance a legacy application and to develop a new app that matches requirements of non-technical customers. By experiencing the whole software life cycle repeatedly within a single college course, students actually use the skills that industry has long encouraged and learn to appreciate them.  The course is now rewarding for faculty, popular with students, and praised by industry.

The second part of the talk is about our experience using MOOCs to teach Software Engineering. While the media's spotlight on MOOCs continues unabated, a recent opinion piece expresses grave concerns about their role ("Will MOOCs Destroy Academia?", Moshe Vardi, CACM 55(11), Nov. 2012).   I will try to bust a few MOOC myths by presenting provocative, if anecdotal, evidence that appropriate use of MOOC technology can improve on-campus pedagogy, increase student throughput while raising course quality, and even reinvigorate faculty teaching. I'll also explain the role of MOOCs in enabling half-dozen universities to replicate and build upon our work via Small Private Online Courses (SPOCs) from EdX and our electronic textbook.

I conclude that the 21st century textbook may prove to be a hybrid of SPOCs and Ebooks.

Joint Work: Armando Fox and David Patterson, UC Berkeley


David Patterson joined UC Berkeley in 1977 after receiving all his degrees from UCLA.  His most successful projects have likely been Reduced Instruction Set Computers (RISC), Redundant Arrays of Inexpensive Disks (RAID), and Network of Workstations (NOW). All three projects helped lead to multibillion-dollar industries. This research led to many papers and six books, with the most popular book being Computer Organization and Design, co-authored with John Hennessy, and the most recent being Engineering Software as a Service, co-authored with Armando Fox. His current research is centered on cancer genomics for the AMP and ASPIRE Labs.   In the past, he served as Director of the Parallel Computing Lab, Director of the Reliable And Distributed Systems Lab, Chair of Berkeley’s CS Division, Chair of the Computing Research Association (CRA), and President of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).  This work resulted in 35 honors, some shared with friends. His research awards include election to the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame along with being named Fellow of the Computer History Museum, ACM, IEEE, and both AAAS organizations. He received Distinguished Service Awards from ACM, CRA, and SIGARCH. His teaching honors include the ACM Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Award, the IEEE Mulligan Education Medal, the IEEE Undergraduate Teaching Award, and the UC Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award. 

Hosted by Prof Jason Cong

REFRESHMENTS at 3:45 pm, SPEAKER at 4:15 pm



TIME: 4:15 – 5:45 PM    

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