Tagged: stanford

Where is CS curriculum at top schools headed?

The blogosphere was abuzz today with news of a course on developing iPhone applications in Stanford being available for free. I didn’t understand what the big fuss was about. In fact, if anything, this news has me worried.

Image courtesy: flickr.com

Stanford is undoubtedly one of the top most engineering schools in the world. In my mind, a computer science curriculum at such top schools should do just that — teach computer science. Courses that cover computer architecture, software design, operating systems, networking, graphics, theory, databases, algorithms etc all make sense to me. But a course to teach students how to use the API on a commercial SDK? I think other organizations (vocational institutes, community colleges etc) are better suited for such courses. What is so great about such courses being taught at Stanford or MIT or Berkeley? I personally think those resources could be used better elsewhere.

It seems this is part of a larger trend. More and more schools are designing courses that are aligned with the hot buzz-words in the industry, perhaps in order to attract applications. For instance, you can learn how to provide Software as a Service (SaaS) using Ruby on Rails (RoR) at Berkeley. Stanford has another class on building Facebook applications.

I would much rather see a class on say “building scalable web services” and have Facebook, Twitter as case studies in the class.