CS Professor Recognized for Educational Contributions to Computing

Python for Everyone book cover.

Python for Everyone book cover.

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) named San Jose State University’s Cay S. Horstmann as a distinguished member for educational contributions to computing. A computer science professor in the College of Science, Horstmann has written several books that are used in introductory computer science courses including Big Java, Big C++, Python for Everyone and others. His books for professional programmers include Core Java and Scala for the Impatient and are also well regarded.

In addition to his publications, Horstmann has been a long-time member of the College Board AP Computer Science development committee and has been an associate editor of the ACM Transactions on Computing Education. He developed a Udacity/SJSU course that is still used by many AP CS instructors and created educational software including Violet, GridWorld and Codecheck that he has made freely available to the community.

“I was very happy to have received this recognition,” Horstmann said. “I have worked on computer science education for many years and am glad that our professional society considers me to have ‘achieved significant accomplishments.’”

Department Chair of Computer Science Sami Khuri noted that Horstmann’s books are used around the world, and that he has participated in educational panels and given international talks.

“We, the Department of Computer Science, are extremely honored and proud to have one of our own get such a distinguished recognition,” Khuri said. “ACM is the best-regarded society for Computer Science and they are extremely selective with their awards/recognitions.”

Horstmann noted that SJSU has supported his efforts and allowed him to build up a portfolio of accomplishments over the years. Horstmann participated in the first cohort of the University Grants Academy in 2015-16. He said one of the key things he appreciated about the grant academy was the opportunity to learn about other research interests on campus.

“It put us together with other people – otherwise you are a lone player,” he said, noting that he connected with other professors with whom he could collaborate in the future.

The CS professor is one of five 2017 ACM Distinguished Members recognized for educational contributions to computing this year, with 43 total members recognized in all arenas including engineering and scientific contributions to computing.

“Computing technology is becoming an increasingly dominant force in our daily lives and is transforming society at every level,” said ACM President Vicki L. Hanson. “In naming a new roster of Distinguished Members each year, ACM underscores that the innovations which improve our lives do not come about by accident, but rather are the result of the hard work, inspiration and creativity of leading professionals in the field. We honor the 2017 class of ACM Distinguished Members for the essential role their accomplishments play in how we live and work.”

ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery www.acm.orgis the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, uniting computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field’s challenges. ACM strengthens the computing profession’s collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for life-long learning, career development, and professional networking.

Paseo Prototype Challenge Teams Solve Civic Issues

By Barry Zepel

Last year, 16 teams of creative and imaginative students showcased their technological solutions for many of their city’s most pressing issues – including downtown safety, traffic congestion, homelessness, and support of local small business entrepreneurs – at the Paseo Public Prototyping Festival in downtown San Jose in April. In preparation for the festival, students majoring in art, design, engineering, business and the sciences spent months in collaboration with fellow team members to develop and refine their proposed solutions for improving quality of life in San Jose.

In September 2016, SJSU in collaboration with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the City of San José, Intel, Microsoft and Autodesk – launched the Paseo Public Prototyping Challenge and Festival. The Challenge and Festival will be held every two years, pending funding.

“San José State University students are making a difference through their creative and technical talents,” said Gary Craig Hobbs, faculty director of the Paseo Prototyping Challenge and Festival. “The festival is the culmination of a year-long civic innovation challenge designed to incubate solutions to pressing social and environmental problems in San Jose.”

The 2016-17 student teams were selected by a competitive review process headed by university faculty members, as well as industry professionals, shared prototypes that included:

  • A skateboard modified to generate electricity that can be used to charge a cell phone or power a headlight for the board to be safer at night;
  • An app to better control city traffic and enhance access to public transportation;
  • Devices to collect solar energy during the day in order to light up pedestrian walkways at night;
  • A social app enabling residents to follow the actions of their local government, while communicating with it to access services and report problems;
  • An inventory-tracking module to help local food entrepreneurs provide fresh fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods to city residents;
  • An app to help drivers more efficiently locate available parking spaces near their downtown destinations, while eliminating excess traffic jams;
  • A collaborative educational game that encourages learning and offersfirst-hand experience, while keeping students continuously engaged; and
  • An app that helps individuals with niche interests and hobbies find other like-minded persons as well as events and organizations related to those pursuits.

SJSU Faculty, Staff and Students Participate in the Academic Technology Expo (ATXpo) at Stanford University

On Oct. 2, San Jose State University faculty, staff and students joined colleagues from Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, UC San Francisco, University of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, Santa Clara University and Saint Mary’s College of California at the Academic Technology Expo. The event provided a forum to share, discuss and promote effective practices for teaching and learning with technology. The Expo included a series of IdeaLab sessions and a student panel. The IdeaLab is a unique interactive session where presenters showcase practices, projects and technologies that are improving teaching and learning at participating institutions. Each presentation focused on a central teaching and learning challenge and how their solution might be adopted by other participants.

IdeaLab sessions included topics such as virtual reality, open education resources, writing activities, and student-centered approaches to communication, metacognition, and assessment that are enhanced by technology with eight teams of SJSU affiliates presenting throughout the day.

List of SJSU Presentations:

Presenters: David W. Parent

Presenters: Resa Kelly, Yingjie Liu

Presenters: Debra Caires, Isadora McCullough, Andrea Ulloa

Presenters: Marilyn Easter, Prabha Chandrasekar, Bobbi Makani

Presenters: Bryan Dang, Jeland Palicte, Colleen O’Leary-Kelley, Minh Tran

Presenters: Tianqin Shi, Jennifer Redd, Yingjie Liu

Presenters: Karin Jeffery, Ph.D., Emily Wughalter, Ed.D., Bethany Winslow

Presenters: Linda M. Dunn-Jensen, Prabha Chandrasekar

Additionally, Alora Frederick, Marketing ’18 with a minor in advertising, joined students from other participating campuses on a student panel. The discussion focused on teaching methods and tools used in courses. The panel provided an opportunity for students to share their experiences, thoughts and opinions on using different methods and tools.

For additional information about the event, visit the ATXpo website. For questions or for those interested in participating next year, please contact Jennifer Redd.

 

May 2017 Newsletter: Faculty and Staff Redesign Courses to Enhance Learning, Engagement

Photo: Klaus Trilck Dr. Marilyn Easter, a professor of marketing and decision sciences, presents on her course redesign during a faculty and staff recognition luncheon hosted by eCampus on April 21.

Photo: Klaus Trilck
Dr. Marilyn Easter, a professor of marketing and decision sciences, presents on her course redesign during a faculty and staff recognition luncheon hosted by eCampus on April 21.

During eCampus’ Faculty and Staff Recognition Luncheon on April 21, select presenters shared the way they have collaborated to enhance the curriculum in their course work in support of student success. Posters around the classroom where the luncheon was held showed some of the techniques used as part of the CSU Proven Course Redesign Grant and the university’s Quality Assurance Grant.

“We will highlight the work of staff and faculty, and hear and see what they’ve been working on,” said Jennifer Redd, director of eCampus, noting that theirwebsite lists many of the services they provide.

Dr. Marilyn Easter, a professor of marketing and decision sciences, and Prabha Chandrasekar, a mediated learning assistant, shared the ways they worked to redesign a Lucas College and Graduate School of Business introduction to marketing course with a goal of decreasing bottlenecks in the required course for students in their major. Bobbi Makani, a lecturer who also worked on the redesign, shared insights via a prerecorded video.

“To decrease bottlenecks, an online course is the solution,” Easter said. “We wanted to redesign it to make it accessible and easy to navigate.”

Using the campus learning management system Canvas, they created easy-to-digest modules each week for the students that included an overview of the content, a video introduction from Easter, step-by-step instructions, a description of learning outcomes, reading and assignments, and a “check your knowledge” section. Each week, the students also had a chance to engage live with Easter.

A student who provided a testimonial on video said that for her while working full time and taking courses toward an undergraduate degree, she sometimes struggled to get the courses she needed at times that worked for her schedule. Dr. Easter’s online course fulfilled her time needs while also providing engaging material.

Ravisha Mathur, an associate professor of child and adolescent development, and Debbie Weissman (via prerecorded video), a faculty member in the School of Information, discussed their experience as participants and more recently as team leaders with the Quality Assurance program. The program aims to evaluate the effectiveness of online courses and provides individualized mentoring to faculty to improve their online classes. Mathur, who is a peer reviewer this year, said the program helped her to improve student learning and engagement in the online environment.

The feedback she received from students showed her that they preferred some lecture information in PDFs that they could download to read at times when they were offline. She now also requires a “meet up” twice a semester for her online courses, in which students can personally engage and connect with her in person, online or by phone; she has seen an improvement in student achievement and motivation with these meet ups.

“It only has to be five to 10 minutes, but it usually ends up being 20 minutes,” she said. “Engagement goes up after that first meet up.”

Resa Kelly, a professor of chemistry and the science education program, and Yingjie Liu, an instructional designer with eCampus, discussed their work on incorporating augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) equipment into a post-baccalaureate science teaching credential program course.

“We looked at it as an exploration in a sense,” Kelly said, “To get them thinking about how they might try to teach with the technologies.”

The 2017-18 Quality Assurance application is available online, due June 18.

May 2017 Newsletter: ITS Creates Altamont Center to Engage Student Interns

15SJSU students intern with the campus’ Information Technology Services team to support student success.By Barry Zepel

Classroom-based learning provides the foundation for earning a degree; learning in a hands-on, real-life setting sharpens skills to prepare a student for a career.

That is just one part of the strategy behind the creation of the Altamont Center in Information Technology Services (ITS) at San Jose State University, where 16 students majoring in a variety of disciplines are completing internships that help them develop the marketable skills desired by corporations and other organizations in Silicon Valley. Interns work on projects involving data science, business intelligence, technical writing, software testing, software development and project management. Of the students, seven are undergraduates and nine are completing graduate degrees.

The students – who are in disciplines ranging from management information systems (MIS) to computer science to engineering to statistics – work closely with ITS staff on projects that move forward the goals of the department. The strategy is in line with SJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success plan, with initiatives that support student engagement as a key pillar. Dana Nehoran, who serves as both a faculty member in the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business and a staff member in ITS, proposed the idea a year ago as a way to engage students through internships.

“The center employs students who are able to work on technical tasks related to their areas of study, while they also help achieve important goals and make a lasting impact on the campus community,” Nehoran explained. “Our student interns take part in essential projects that help SJSU provide more effective services for the entire student body.”

The students are mentored and supervised by full-time ITS staff members. The team Nehoran moves SJSU’s Four Pillars plan forward by identifying obstacles to student success, such as financial hardships, advising processes or inability to register for needed classes. The university can then focus resources on the areas that will have the most impact on improving graduation and retention rates. The interns are compiling and analyzing data, and ITS will distribute reports to help campus administrators make decisions about student success initiatives.

Together, the Altamont interns are providing San Jose State with predictive analytics. Nehoran describes it as “a discipline that attempts to make useful predictions about the future based on statistical analysis of historical data.”

“From the ITS point of view, we have this wealth of knowledge and capacity in these students,” said Bob Wrenn, SJSU’s interim chief information officer who oversees the department. “We have a lot of work to do here and we have a finite amount of resources to get it done. I can get students here who are highly trained and highly available; they’re on site and help complete the work we need done.”

The interns play an important role in the department, according to Wrenn.

“They are delivering real-life value working side-by-side with my permanent, full-time staff, who serve as their mentors and supervisors,” he noted.

Nehoran said the interns’ use of predictive analytics could have a positive impact for thousands of their fellow SJSU students, of whom 14 percent graduate in four years with the university focused on increasing that to 35 percent by 2025. The interns are analyzing historical information to find patterns that help identify students at risk of not completing a degree in a timely manner with the objective of enabling the appropriate campus services to provide proactive intervention.

While the interns realize that the “real-life experience” they’re getting will help them when seeking their first jobs after graduation, that isn’t all that is inspiring and exciting them.

“What we do here is going to add value to the campus community,” said Ryan Quigley, a second-year graduate student majoring in statistics. “We’re working under the umbrella of predictive analytics, which is using the data that the university has, to make predictions that are going to be beneficial to students’ lives.”

“Our main goal as Altamont Center interns is to make sure that the university’s resources are allocated efficiently. We don’t want (administrators) opening up class sections that are going to be empty, and we don’t want them closing sections that are going to be in high demand,” noted Quigley, who has already been offered a full-time position with a San Francisco-based financial institution as a result of his Altamont Center experience.

The internship program has had a profound impact on Nazia Khan, who like Quigley is a second-year master’s student and statistics major.

“I am totally a different person since I started (at the Altamont Center),” said Khan, who spent two years as a teacher in her native India after completing her undergraduate studies there. “I have more experience and confidence that I can survive in industry because of Dana Nehoran and the Altamont Center. I’m working on something that I am passionate and excited about because I am helping students to acquire their degrees and complete their education while helping to prevent them from dropping out because of emotional or financial reasons. We are able to help them by providing data to the professionals on campus responsible for directly helping those students.”

Additional information about the Altamont Center internships in the ITS Department is available by contacting Nehoran at dana.nehoran@sjsu.edu.