On the occasion of her winning the Turing Award, Institute Professor Barbara Liskov participated in an interview with the MIT News Office in which she discussed her role in shaping the past, present and future of computer science.

Q. When you began your career in computer science, it was still a relatively young field. How have you seen this discipline evolve over time -- at MIT and elsewhere?

A. The change has been tremendous. When I started, most of the field was unexplored and there were obvious problems everywhere -- lots of low-hanging fruit, but also very fundamental issues that were poorly understood and very confusing. Today the field is on a very sound foundation. There are still many problems to work on, but now this work happens in the context of all that has gone before. When I started, this context was missing, so you just struck out on your own.

The lesson plans on the AGPA website use the Learning Cycle as the instructional model for its lesson plans. The learning cycle rests on constructivism as its theoretical foundation. "Constructivism is a dynamic and interactive model of how humans learn" (Bybee, 1997, p. 176). A constructivist perspective assumes students must be actively involved in their learning and concepts are not transmitted from teacher to student but constructed by the student. In the early 1960's, Robert Karplus and his colleagues proposed and used an instructional model based on the work of Piaget. This model would eventually be called the Learning Cycle. (Atkin & Karplus, 1962). Numerous studies have shown that the learning cycle as a model of instruction is far superior to transmission models in which students are passive receivers of knowledge from their teacher (Bybee, 1997). As an instructional model, the learning cycle provides the active learning experiences recommended by the National Science Education Standards (National Research Council, 1996).

Arturo Porzecanski and David Isserman
American University Professor; Co-Founder of RareShare.org
Tuesday, February 10, 2009; 12:00 PM

American University professor Arturo Porzecanski and RareShare.org co-founder David Isserman discuss the importance of giving people with rare diseases the ability to connect with each other.

Porzecanski, who suffers from systemic capillary leak syndrome, has been able to use RareShare.org, a social networking site for those with rare diseases, to connect with other SCLS patients around the world.

by Andrew Feinburg

The 18th century ideas of Thomas Jefferson were thrust into a 21st century debate at the Cato Institute Wednesday during a discussion of David Post’s new book, In Search of Jefferson’s Moose: Notes on the State of Cyberspace.

Studying Jefferson’s legacy of “scaling up” the Republic during his presidency — establishing procedures for settlement of new territories and adding new states to the union — can help better understand how to govern the Internet as it grows more and more important in daily life, Post said.

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