Web Science: expanding the notion of Computer Science (joint work with Su White)

Friday, 19 August, 2011 (All day)

Academic disciplines which practice in the context of rapid external change face particular problems when seeking to maintain timely, current and relevant teaching programs. In different institutions faculty will tune and update individual component courses while more radical revisions are typically departmental-wide strategic responses to perceived needs. Internationally, the ACM has sought to define curriculum recommendations since the 1960s and recognizes the diversity of the computing disciplines with its 2005 overview volume. The consequent rolling program of revisions is demanding in terms of time and effort, but an inevitable response to the change inherent is our family of specialisms.
Preparation for the Computer Curricula 2013 is underway, so it seems appropriate to ask what place Web Science will have in the curriculum landscape. Web Science has been variously described; the most concise definition being the ‘science of decentralized information systems’. Web science is fundamentally interdisciplinary encompassing the study of the technologies and engineering which constitute the Web, alongside emerging associated human, social and organizational practices. Furthermore, to date little teaching of Web Science is at undergraduate level. Some questions emerge - is Web Science a transient artifact? Can Web Science claim a place in the ACM family, Is Web Science an exotic relative with a home elsewhere?
This paper discusses the role and place of Web Science in the context of the computing disciplines. It provides an account of work which has been established towards defining an initial curriculum for Web Science with plans for future developments utilizing novel methods to support and elaborate curriculum definition and review. The findings of a desk survey of existing related curriculum recommendations are presented. The paper concludes with recommendations for future activities which may help us determine whether we should expand the notion of computer science.  


White, S. and Vafapoulos, M. (2011) Web Science: expanding the notion of Computer Science. In: 43rd ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, 28th February-3rd March 2012, Raleigh, NC, USA. (Submitted)

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