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April 6, 2005
Issue No. 68

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Teaching New Media Production Skills in the Dorms

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by Jennifer Ly

For many years, most new students took the one-quarter, one unit, pass/no credit CS1c, Introduction to Computing at Stanford course taught by Resident Computer Coordinators (RCCs). Enrollment remained high in the 1990s but began to drop in the 2000s, as incoming students brought more computer skills and experience (and their own computers) with them to Stanford.

In the past year, CS1c enrollment has dropped by about 30 percent and RCCs have seen an increasing demand for higher-level or more specialized topics, both within the CS1c curriculum and external to the class, in the form of workshops. Such topics include HTML, the Web, Photoshop, and video editing.

Topics for CS2c class

Students also increasingly need these multimedia skills as instructors incorporate more multimedia elements in their courses. With the new Program in Writing and Rhetoric PWR-2 course requirement, for example, all students are expected to complete a research project involving both oral and multimedia presentation skills.

This past winter, to address the demand, Residential Computing offered a new course with an emphasis on multimedia, as a pilot project. Funded by a Curriculum Development Grant from the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education (VPUE), the course was held in four residential clusters: Donner, Roble, Toyon, and Freshman Sophomore College (including Potter College).

CS2c, Intermediate Computing at Stanford, is also a one unit, pass/no credit course taught by the local RCC; it is intended as a continuation of the curriculum of CS1c. Students learn, through hands-on experience, skills such as sound editing, image editing, video editing, and preparing Powerpoint presentations and web pages, including the consideration of aesthetics in presentations and web pages. The course's multimedia equipment includes digital video cameras, projectors, and color printers.

Although enrollment for CS2c was not as high as enrollment for CS1c, Residential Computing plans to eventually expand the Winter Quarter course to all residences with freshmen, the same residences where CS1c will be taught. As a result, it is the expected that enrollment will increase significantly and CS2c may one day replace CS1c as the course taken by most new students.