The Office of the Provost released “A Plan for a New Horizon: Envisioning Virginia Tech 2013-2018,” which features a detailed list of goals the university has for the next five years.
Specifically, the additions to the Curriculum for Liberal Education feature a new “computational thinking” requirement for all undergraduate students, as well as more of an interdisciplinary focus between colleges and majors.
The new requirements will undoubtedly serve students well in our new “knowledge economy,” in which higher degrees and tech savvy people are increasingly sought after by employers.
It may sound like an attempt by the university to steer students into studying computer science, but its purpose appears to be to deliver a unique, progressive education that is offered by very few universities — if any at all.
According to the report, Tech plans to unveil new courses geared to all majors, where “computational thinking” would be required. This, in the long run, will undoubtedly allow students to acquire a fantastic set of skills that would complement any major or career.
The demand for programming knowledge and technological literacy could never be greater than now, with more people than ever using technology. The difference is, few will actually know how it works.
Think of any time you go online, use apps on a smartphone, or even use your own computer’s operating system — someone has built these applications.
The fact that Tech may start requiring students to learn the basics of programming is a tangible manifestation of the university’s tagline: “Invent the Future.”
What this means for future students is that they will receive a truly revolutionary education that will pair the knowledge they gain in their major with valuable skills that courses in computational thinking provide.
It’s no doubt that nearly any company with an online presence needs employees with coding knowledge, whether that be basic web-development, or some of the more complex back-end development.
Even if graduating Tech students don’t enter the workforce as an army of programmers, having a working knowledge or even an understanding of the basic concepts of programming would indeed set Tech students apart from other schools’ graduates.
The interdisciplinary focus of the plan would make way for a breadth of opportunities for students in any major. From the humanities to biology, computing has its place in any discipline offered at Tech.
Humanities students with computational thinking skills would be quite useful in maintaining the liberal arts’ relevance and ensuring its preservation in forthcoming years. As a field that has come under siege in recent memory, the humanities need this.
Thankfully, the English and history departments at Tech have met this challenge. They both conduct various projects in the digital humanities: the convergence of liberal arts study and computing.
Any student, even one with a liberal arts degree, is capable of learning to program and has a far better chance of finding employment in technical fields.
If the new addition to the CLE does work as intended, Tech may become a national leader in revolutionizing undergraduate education.