Teaching in Real Semesters (or we don’t know we’re born)

Since I discovered them a month or so ago, I have been tuning in to the webcasts of Brian Harvey’s course “61A Introduction to Computer Science” from the University of California Berkeley. A couple of things struck me. First, the breadth of this introductory *course which seems to take in the whole of computer science from functional programming through to logic programming and seemingly all types of programming in between. Second, the length of the semester in the US: from August 27 through to December 10 (about 5 weeks longer than the *Michaelmas term in Swansea). That’s forty-odd lectures and seperate lab sessions! If we had the same length of time, we could really give some depth to our teaching.

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p>”When do they do research?” I hear my colleagues cry out in alarm. I don’t know, but I suspect that to be a lecturer at Berkeley, research activity is still a requirement1)! Is the work ethic indicated by this level of student and staff commitment part of the reason that the USA suceeds were other countries fail?

It’s even more amazing when you consider that the students are paying really serious tuition fees for the privilege!


1) It turns out that Brian is actually employed by UC Berkeley as a full time teacher now, but he has a pretty impressive CV nonetheless!

Author: cpjobling

Senior lecturer, College of Engineering, Swansea University