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Faculty members design new computer course

From Cavalier Daily
March 5, 1999

By Tina Hong, Associate Editor

An interdisciplinary team of about a dozen University faculty members are designing a new course to teach computer literacy in the College, the Architecture School and the Nursing School.

"We already teach a computer literacy course [in the Engineering School], but even we could never meet the demand," said John Stankovic, chairman of the Engineering and Computer Science Department.

Stankovic, who is on the Computer Literacy Course Design Committee-which has been meeting since late fall-stressed the need for a computer literacy course for all University students, not just Engineering students.

"I personally believe that computer literacy should be available to every U.Va. undergraduate," he said.

If the course is approved by the deans of the different schools and University Provost Peter W. Low, it will be open to all undergraduate students as a beginning-level course.

"The concept is that the University would offer this as a course that introduces computer technologies and the impact of technology on your life," Engineering-Computer Science Prof. Alfred Weaver said.

Weaver said it is too early to predict whether or not the proposed course might be a requirement for students. He also said it might take up to five years for the University to approve and implement the course.

Barbara Nolan, vice provost for Instructional Development and Innovation, selected the Committee members from faculty of each of the schools.

"The Committee was put together to design a computer literacy course that would meet the needs of undergraduates across the University," Nolan said.

The Committee, which has been meeting for three months, has progressed far in its design for the class, but the plans for the course still need some work.

"The literacy course is well underway in its design, but it requires resources" such as funding and personnel, which it does not have yet, Stankovic said.

"It is absolutely a beginning course-we want a large contingent [of students] from the College," Weaver said.

The Committee must meet several goals before implementing the course.

"First we have to find funding, and then we would need approval from each of the schools that would be affected," Nolan said. "I know in the College, we could have a trial run for a year before we bring it to the Education Policy and Curriculum Committee" of the Faculty Senate.

College Dean Melvyn P. Leffler proposed the idea last year.

"The idea grew out of the dean's desire for more opportunities for College undergraduates to be able to take an introductory computer course," Nolan said.

The first idea was to adapt the current Engineering School course, but Nolan suggested constructing a new course.

"We wanted to address the needs of [non-Engineering] school students," she said.

Gabriel Robins, Engineering-Computer Science assoc. prof., said the course would teach students valuable skills such as how to make a spreadsheet, use a word processor and build a simple web page.

"People shouldn't graduate without some level of computer literacy," Robins said.


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