Digital Natives, Online Learning, and the Production of Capable Computer Science Graduates: The Case for Virtual Synchronous Learning Activities

By John W. Coffey.

Published by The Technology Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Enrollments in Computer Science programs have been in precipitous decline nationwide since the dot-com bubble burst in 2001. It is critical to national economic and physical security that we maintain excellence in information technology, and such excellence will come from successfully educating adequate numbers of talented, motivated computer science students. This article will address issues of student enrollment, learning and retention as more computer science courses are delivered online. It contains descriptions of literature addressing issues surrounding online course delivery and student retention in computer science programs in the context of so-called “digital natives” (Prensky, 2001) being taught with “digital immigrant” pedagogy. A case study in the use of synchronous online learning technology is described. The argument is made that virtual synchronous learning activities can improve learning and retention of students in online courses in this critical field.

Keywords: Computer Science Education, Digital Natives, Distance Learning, Synchronous Virtual Learning Activities, Student Retention, Learning Outcomes

The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp.59-64. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 571.564KB).

Dr. John W. Coffey

Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science, The University of West Florida, Pensacola, FL, USA

Dr. John W. Coffey holds a B.S. in Psychology from the College of William and Mary; a B.S. in Systems Science, an M.S. in Computer Science, and an Ed.D. in Instructional Technology from the University of West Florida. His dissertation demonstrates extensions to a method of representing a knowledge domain for which Drs. Ken Ford, Alberto Cañas and he received a patent in 1996. Since 1992 he has worked for the Computer Science Department at UWF where he holds an Associate Professor position, and the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC), Pensacola, FL. Coffey has taught 11 different computer science courses. In his work for IHMC, he served as the principle software developer on the NUCES Project, and developed the software for the VNet portion of the Quorum project. He has served as a knowledge engineer on projects with NASA Glenn Research Center, Boeing, the U.S. Navy, the Electrical Power Research Institute, and many others. His research interests include knowledge elicitation and representation, advanced technology for education, student modeling, and educational applications of semantic web technologies. He has authored more than 50 journal papers, book chapters, technical reports and conference proceedings.

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