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Computing Education Practice

5th January 2024

Key Note: Dr Brett Becker

AI in Computing Education – Rebooting Teaching Practice

Like an ageing machine that needs a reboot, our teaching practices were due for one too – and Generative AI just pressed the button. Like the internet and the PC before it, AI is promising big change including possibly reshaping traditional teaching practice, as it has been threatening to do for a long time. This time perhaps the biggest change is the speed at which things are changing. AI-fuelled teaching and learning is not necessarily bad news despite what we may read – particularly given that many of our teaching practices were questionably fit for purpose anyway. More good news is that many of the challenges presented by Generative AI that have captivated public attention – such as cheating – are not new challenges at all. Many exciting opportunities seem to be upon us which, if handled correctly, should positively affect teaching practice. It is likely that with the hindsight that can only be gained with time, Generative AI will be seen more as a catalyst in the rebooting of teaching practice – having effects that stretch far beyond immediate and direct effects we are (mostly) discussing these days. Teaching with AI-generated materials, assessing with instruments designed, administered, and marked by AI, and even working with AI-powered teaching assistants, all might soon be more mainstream than not. Teaching with AI, not just about it (occasionally) could possibly have even more profound change than making teaching practice more efficient and leaving educators more time to be human (or to reply to week-old emails). Harnessing AI in the right way could – in theory – make teaching and learning more equitable, engaging, and effective for a wider range of more diverse learners. But this is far from certain. Educators need to anticipate the road ahead and try to not only to steer the ship, but to make prudent navigational choices en route. That is where the real challenges likely lie – making the problem of students cheating with generative AI look trivial.  

About Brett A. Becker

Brett has been researching and lecturing in Computing for 17 years. Brett came into Computer Science at the undergraduate level via Mechanical Engineering and Physics before completing an MSc in Computational Science and then a PhD in Heterogeneous Parallel Computing, after which he completed an MA in Higher Education. His research area is computing education, focusing on the psychology of programming, programming error messages, novice programmer behaviour and generative AI in education. He is currency the Vice-Chair of the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE), is serving on the Steering Committee for the CS 2023 ACM/IEEE Computer Society/AAAI International Task Force for the revision of Computer Science Curricula 2013, Associate Editor of ACM Transactions on Computing Education, and author of a school-level textbook aligned with the Irish Computer Science curriculum. He is also on the Steering Committee of several conferences including the ACM Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education (ITiCSE) conference, the ACM Global Computing Education (CompEd) conference, and the UK & Ireland Computing Education Research (UKICER) conference. In 2020 he was awarded a National Forum Teaching & Learning Research Fellowship, Ireland’s most prestigious national individual teaching and learning award in higher education.

One Day Conference

CEP 2024 is the seventh conference in computing education practice. CEP provides an opportunity to discuss with like-minded people the challenges and opportunities that face us, and how these are changing. As well as a platform for presenting, exploring and sharing ideas and new approaches there will also be opportunities for focused discussion on the topics raised.
Click here to see details of past conferences.

Who is it for?

CEP is aimed at practitioners and researchers in computing education, both within Computing departments and elsewhere. The conference provides a platform to share and discuss innovations and developments in the practice of computing education.

How will the conference run?

CEP aims to be a community, not a series of proceedings; everybody is encouraged to participate even if they are not presenting.

The conference will be held in person on Friday 5th January 2024 in Durham University’s Mathematical Sciences & Computer Science building. For more information, see the Programme page.