Online Courses in Computer Science Still Need to Offer Personal Mentorship

How do you think MooCs like those offered from Coursera are impacting CS education?originally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Bill Poucher, CS Professor at Baylor University and Executive Director of ACM-ICPC, on Quora.

Let’s hope that technology can bring CS to more people on the planet and raise the level of understanding of all who will apply themselves to online learning. We are much better people when we are learning rather than griping.

There is always a fear within academia that automation will replace jobs that support academics with the result that tutoring, lecturing, and research will suffer. Perhaps we simply need to have better reasons to invest in probing, extending, and supporting human knowledge and skills.


At the end of the day, success in education requires buy-in. Having a mentor who is able to engage students—a coach, if you please—is an integral part of striving for excellence. What I really like about current massive online efforts is the trajectory.

They are inclusive of many who have little chance of getting an education. Furthermore, they have prospects for drawing more people to the pursuit of enlightenment and the joy of problem solving. That’s a good thing.