Friday 23 July 2010

Teaching Ubicomp? What is it we should teach?

Why should we teach Ubicomp? What are the core issues when teaching Ubicomp? How do we cope with the rapid changes in technologies if we provide practical exercises in our Pervasive Computing classes? What skills will students take away from the course?

As Ubicomp is still a young and dynamic subject it is inevitable that we have to ask these questions. To share our experiences in teaching we met at the ETH Zürich. Friedemann Mattern, Marc Langheinrich, Michael Rohs, Kay Römer, and many of our PhD students (and me ;-) spent two days in Zürich to collect materials and discuss the above questions. The hardest one is obviously the what is ubicomp question…

For me the key thing is that we teach about distributed computing systems that are aware and linked to the real world and which are used by humans. The systems aspect is key and I think which specific technologies, tools, methods, we teach are exchangeable. The second point I want to make in my pervasive computing class is to get students excited and aware of the potential of computing in the future and how we are at the heart of a major change that goes beyond technology.

We are currently compiling a Wiki with teaching materials which we hope will become public in the future (at least in parts). If you teach a ubicomp related course or if you know of course please feel free to add a comment with link to the webpage and we will try to include it in the collection.

PS: examples of the UI challenge of ubicomp are everywhere.