I was less than impressed with most of the Computing Sciences courses I took during my degree at the University of Alberta. I found the majority of the courses either too boring or too out-of-date. Or quite often both.
Maybe the image I had in my head about what university would be like was just plain wrong. I always thought that universities were on the cutting edge, with lots of cool stuff happening. I thought I’d be exposed to some really interesting research, like that of Jonathan Schaeffer who worked on Deep Blue and teaches at the U of A. Sadly, my classes never ever reflected that image.
Today I was reading some blogs, and came across this article that says Stanford University is going to be offering a course this fall called Creating Engaging Web Applications Using Metrics and Learning on Facebook. I’m very interested and very jealous:
Students will build applications for Facebook, then gather and analyze detailed information about how Facebook users actually use them. Students will focus on using detailed numerical measurements to guide software iterations, just like developers do on thousands of existing Facebook applications.
They’ll be graded based on how many Facebook users they can get actively using their applications.
I wish I had been able to take classes like that when I was in university.
It’s important to learn about hard technology problems, such as searching, but I think it’s equally important to study the technology that people use every day, like Facebook. Kudos to the CS faculty at Stanford for taking a chance on Facebook and venturing into the relatively new area of Human Computer Interaction.