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Why is ECE 264 Taught in a Lecture Room, not a Computer Room?

Should ECE264 be taught in a computer room? Why is it taught in lectures?

  • It is unclear teaching in a computer room is definitely better. For ECE 264 (and many other "computer" courses), the materials are about understanding and designing computers, not about using computers. It is very hard to understand what is inside a computer by typing on a keyboard, moving a mouse, and watching a screen. ECE 264 covers many concepts related to the internals of computers, such as memory organization, call stack, recursion, data structures, and so on. Sitting in front of a computers does not directly help understand the concepts. In many cases, you need to draw graphs showing the concept. Even opening a computer would not help. Opening a car's hood does not make a person understand thermodynamics in an engine. In fact, computers can be distractions. Some students would focus on doing their homework and forget to pay attention to the concepts.
  • Should ECE 264 eliminate lectures and allow students to spend class time doing programming assignments?  Some people suggest "Give students problems and they will figure out solutions."  There is no widely accepted theory this is a better way for students to learn.  It is like asking every students to reinvent wheels. There are some "tested and accepted" approach to write good programs. There are also common mistakes that should be avoided. It is inefficient to give students complete freedom and expect them to magically discover solutions. Some people suggest that "Allow students to make mistakes and they will learn from the mistakes." This goes against the basic concept of education. Education, by its definition, is to learn something that has already been discovered so that people can build upon what is existing knowledge. Chemists already know mixing some chemicals would cause explosion; it is unnecessary to lose students' lives for rediscovering what is already known.

What do you think? Share you thought.