SIGCSE'11 Workshop 7: How to Use Algorithm Visualizations in Your Class
Abstract: Students and instructors say overwhelmingly that they love algorithm visualizations, but most instructors rarely incorporate them into their classes. Instructors tell us that two things get in their way: (1) difficulty in finding good AVs and information about how they can be used effectively and (2) difficulty in making changes to the class that are needed to introduce this new approach. We will guide you past the real-life pitfalls that get in the way of using AVs in the classroom. We show you how to find the resources that you need, and present case studies of successful classroom deployments This workshop is about helping you to make the changes you have said for years that you want to make. You will get time to try out some recommended AVs during the workshop. Laptop recommended.
Intended Audience: Instructors of courses that include content (or with prerequisite material) related to data structures, algorithms, or formal languages. Ideal for instructors who have thought in the past about using AVs in their class, but have had limited or no successful experience in doing so.
- Cliff Shaffer is Professor of Computer Science at Virginia Tech. He has taught Data Structures and Algorithms at all levels for over 20 years. Dr. Shaffer is director for the AlgoViz Project, and developer for a number of AVs, two of which were winners in the first annual AlgoViz Awards competition. One, an online hashing tutorial, has been shown to provide statistically significant improvement over class lecture and textbook.
- Tom Naps, Professor and Department Chair of Computer Science at the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh, earned his PhD in Mathematics from University of Notre Dame in 1975 and has been teaching Computer Science ever since. Since 1987 he has designed numerous visualizations of algorithms to help his students, and is a primary developer of the GAIGS and JHAVE Java-Hosted Algorithm Visualization Environment) AV systems. He has written numerous refereed papers in the area of AV, conducted workshops and tutorials at SIGCSE and ITiCSE, and chaired six international working groups on visualization at ITiCSE conferences. Over sixty faculty members at other institutions have used his AV systems.
- Susan Rodger, Professor of the Practice at Duke University, received her Ph.D. in Computer Science from Purdue University in 1989. Rodger's research interests include computer science education and interactive and visual software tools. She has been using AVs in her lectures for over twenty years. She is the developer of JFLAP (www.jflap.org), software for making automata theory visual and interactive. JFLAP was recognized as a finalist in the NEEDS Premier Award for Excellence in Engineering Education Courseware in 2007, and is in use around the world in over 160 countries. Rodger received an ACM Distinguished Educator award in 2006.
- Steve Edwards is Associate Professor of Computer Science at Virginia Tech. He is the lead designer and project manager for Web-CAT-- winner of the 2006 Premier Award, which recognizes high-quality, non-commercial courseware designed to enhance engineering education. Web-CAT is used by 50 universities, with more adopters each year. Edwards has shared experiences with Web-CAT through papers at SIGCSE, OOPSLA, and other conferences. He has given several successful tutorials, workshops, and demonstrations at conferences, including SIGCSE, OOPSLA, and CCSC-E. At SIGCSE, he has given workshops on designing programming assignments to include software testing, on how educators can take advantage of Web 2.0 software in the classroom, and on how to automatically grade programming assignments using Web-CAT. Feedback on all of his SIGCSE workshops has been overwhelmingly positive. All participants gave an overall rating of good or excellent to his most recent SIGCSE workshop, with two thirds rating the workshop as excellent.
- Pre-workshop: We will attempt to contact participants to get a list of potential course topics that they would like to see AVs for.
- Shaffer will show online sources of information about AVs, including a brief presentation of the AlgoViz Portal. Participants will have a chance to try out the Portal resources. Shaffer will present an online hashing tutorial that has been used in a data structures class over the past three years. 45 minutes. Slides
- Naps will demonstrate and discuss various ways in which he has used AV to promote active engagement in the learning process during formal and informal lab sessions with his students. This includes tools and techniques for integrating automated quizzing with online AVs. Participants will have an opportunity to try out these tools during an interactive session. 30 minutes. Slides
- Break, 15 minutes.
- Rodger will demonstrate how she has integrated JFLAP into the lecture presentations in her automata theory course to make those lectures more interactive. Participants will solve problems interactively with Rodger as a group using JFLAP and discuss these presentation techniques that integrate JFLAP into the lecture. 30 minutes. Slides, .pdf
- Edwards will discuss his experiences with integrating AVs into a CS2 lab-based course, and the audience will have a chance to examine the AVs used in the course. 30 minutes. Slides
- Play time with AVs discussed during the workshop. Participants will have an opportunity to look at AVs of interest, with help from the presenters as needed. 30 minutes.