August 7, 2007

Google offers free teaching materials for computer science instructors

Author: Shirl Kennedy

Google Code for Educators, announced during Google's Faculty Summit last month, offers tutorials, sample course content, video lectures, and a Curriculum Search tool that focuses on Web-based materials from computer science departments worldwide.

The announcement on the Official Google Blog says, "This new program is focused on CS topics at the university level, and lets us share the knowledge we've built up around things like distributed systems and AJAX programming. It's designed for university faculty to learn about new computer science topics and include them in their courses, as well as to help curious students learn on their own."

Most of the course materials have been issued under the Creative Commons license, so they can be freely reused and integrated into existing content. Google has also launched a related discussion forum where instructors are encouraged to provide feedback, offer suggestions, and talk about "challenges you have with CS education." Among the suggestions already made -- offering course materials in PDF and on CD so they could be more readily used by those in less affluent countries with poor Internet connectivity.

The Google blog announcement also pointed technology instructors to the Google Research site, which "offers resources to CS researchers, including papers authored by Googlers and a wide variety of our tech talks." Educators may also be interested in the series of Authors@Google video lectures, by such notables as John Battelle ("The Search"), Daniel H. Wilson ("How to Survive a Robot Uprising"), and Seth Godin ("All Marketers Are Liars").

The computer science curriculum search tool has the potential to be useful to instructors and researchers alike. Once you've done your search, you can refine the results page to display only lectures (most of these seem to be in PowerPoint format), assignments, or items that come from such reference resources as the Free Online Dictionary of Computing (FOLDOC) and This last option seems to drastically reduce the number and quality of useful hits; if you're looking for full-text papers and articles, you're better off just combing through the complete search results.

By the way, don't confuse Google Code for Educators with Google for Educators, which offers a variety of resources for K-12 classroom teachers.


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