The National Knowledge and Innovation Agenda ICT stressed that “ICT one can rely upon” requires a sustainable software development community. We believe that diversity is the key for sustainability and aim at improving gender diversity in computer science (CS). Despite recurring efforts into recruiting more women, their numbers in Dutch bachelor programs remain low. One of the new forms of teaching CS that succeeds in attracting a more diverse student audience, and in particular women, is Berkeley’s The Beauty and Joy of Computing (BJC). Moreover, in the US BJC is also successful in secondary schools. BJC is available under a creative commons license, so we can reuse and adapt it.
Our proposal: adapt BJC and create community supporting it.
Need for adaptation: Students in the US usually choose BJC aged 14. However, the Dutch system has distinct levels in secondary education: VWO, HAVO and VMBO, in which students are placed aged 12. The final selection of courses happens at age 15 (“profielkeuze”). Hence, we will have to decide carefully about the age for BJC and adapt the materials appropriately. If we keep the original level (≥14), we might lose students that have selected a ‘non-technical’ profiel.
Need for community building: The above differences in the Dutch and US system make the translation of BJC a starting point for a broader discussion of diversity in CS and secondary school CS education. We need a multidisciplinary community of researchers on software engineering, education and gender & IT, as well as practitioners: teachers and software developers. Experts in teaching CS, i.e., software engineering researchers, will lead the multidisciplinary community: indeed input of IT-researchers in developing this high school material is crucial, and universities of technology are well positioned to address this challenge. In particular, researchers of 4TU take the lead of this project.
We will create a roadmap for translation, adaptation and evaluation of BJC in Dutch supported by a multidisciplinary community. The roadmap will be accompanied by documents (e.g., glossary, adapted examples, translated chapters) embodying our vision of BJC in Dutch.
Dutch Beauty and Joy of Computing can convince girls to choose for Computer Science: https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/nieuws/2019/10/nederlandse-beauty-and-joy-of-computing-kan-meisjes-overtuigen-om-voor-informatica-te-kiezen
- Alexander Serebrenik: Associate Professor, Math & CS, Eindhoven University of Technology
- Felienne Hermans: Assistant Professor, EEMCS, Delft University of Technology
- Marieke Huisman: Professor, EEMCS, University of Twente
- Wendy Oude Nijeweme-d’Hollosy: Researcher, EEMCS, University of Twente
For more information: www.bjoc.nl