Working with changing knowledge ; a case study of computing science. How a cohort of established academics at a Scottish 1990's entitled university responded to the forces of change, development and innovation in teaching computing science.
Sutherland, John Norman
MetadataShow full item record
This is the report of a case study which was an investigation of how a group of long-established, in long-term and close working relationships, academic Computer Scientists working at a 1990's Scottish university have understood the many changes that have taken place in their field over their careers. It is a study that was performed by one of these Computer Scientist who had found it increasingly difficult to keep a grasp of the expanding, evolving and transforming knowledge-base that is a the core of being a Computing teacher in academia today, in the hope that performing the study would shed some light upon the nature of these changes, the forces that cause these changes, and how other Computer Scientists handle their changing field. The study was primarily performed through open conversations that took place in the group, one-to-one between the author and his then colleagues. As such, the study is based on analysis of subjective expressions of the personal experiences of the academics involved. As teachers in a new university, previously a Scottish Central Institution (akin to an English polytechnic), their teaching was applied Software Engineering rather than theoretical Computer Science, but a part of the group were originally educated as Computer Scientists. The study reviews the growth of Computer Science as an academic field in Scotland and compares the participants' experiences with those in other changing academic fields. The principal findings of the study are that knowledge in applied Computer Science originates entirely from outwith the academy. Commercial companies, philanthropic groups, end users and students all bring Computer Science knowledge into the academy. In order to teach the subject, these Computer Scientists must actively seek to gather in this knowledge, filter it and apply it in their teaching. The knowledge is volatile, difficult to provenance, only partially knowable, and time-stamped. It is not be found in books or other traditional academic sources. The one role that these Computer Scientists bring to knowledge creation in the field is in their formulation of new degree programmes which produce the field's new graduates and so affect the renewal and direction of the applied field of CS.