Hi, I’m Janet Davis. After nine years teaching computer science at Grinnell College, I have moved to Whitman College, where I will found a new computer science program. This blog will tell my story and discuss many of the decisions we will face. The primary audience will be my colleagues in computer science education, although I hope to make the blog readable and interesting to Whitties as well.
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About the title and cover photo
“Counting from zero” is a play on the phrase “starting at square one” and the zero-based numbering system found in many data structures. This is a bit of a misnomer, as I am not truly starting at zero: My math colleagues David Guichard and Albert Schueller have been teaching Introduction to Programming (CS1) and a data structures course (CS2) for many years. However, these courses are open to revision, so I feel I am truly building a CS curriculum from the ground up.
The cover photo pictures John T. Young’s Soaring Stones #4, one of many sculptures on Whitman’s campus. Computer scientists and those with programming experience may notice the resemblance to an array. I was particularly tickled by the “zeroeth” stone embedded in the ground.
The subtitle is once again a double entendre. (So are the names of my two cats, Eliza and Sprite.) “The age of ubiquity” refers first to ubiquitous computing: “a concept…where computing is made to appear everywhere and anywhere.” With smartphones in our pockets and the dawning Internet of Things, arguably we have arrived in the age of ubiquitous computing, making a basic understanding of computing all the more critical to the educated citizen. But I am also referring to the near ubiquity of computer science at top liberal arts colleges. Whitman is years—if not decades—behind the curve in offering a CS major.