Plannable: A Low-Latency and Multifunctional Course Planning Tool; How Professional Training Prevail in CS Education: An Explanation using the Actor-Network Theory

Shan, Kaiying, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Graham, Daniel, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia
Ferguson, Sean, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Vrugtman, Rosanne, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia

In the context of information revolution and globalization, agility and competitiveness are addressed in numerous aspects. In the software engineering industry, the concept of agile development is widely adopted. The tendency to address agility is also displayed in computer science educational institutions. The following technical thesis introduces a website that was developed with an emphasis on performance and swiftness. With observations made during the development process of the technical project, the STS thesis denotes the agile and competitive nature of contemporary CS education and presents an exploratory study to explain these properties.
The technical thesis presents a website that provides auto-scheduling with fast real-time feedback to user inputs. The technical project intends to construct a tool for students to seamlessly build their course schedules that satisfy their requirements and accommodate their extracurricular activities. It aims to improve student’s experience on course selection and help them manage their schedule throughout the semester. The project adopts a front-end heavy architecture, offloading the computation on the client-side to optimize the performance. The project also utilizes compact data structure to further improve the performance and reduce memory usage. As a result, the website significantly outperformed competing tools.
The website is widely used by students in University of Virginia, with over a thousand unique visitors in the first year of launching. In the development process, several observations arise. First, the technology stack iteration in front-end development is frequent. Second, despite that computer science is a field of study with both theoretical and practical components, in UVA, the number of practical CS courses outnumbers the number of theoretical CS courses, and the popularity of practical CS courses is also notably higher than that of theoretical courses. The first observation reflects that technology stack iteration is unprecedently frequent, and the second observation displays a shift of interest in the field of study from CS students and educators.
The STS thesis presents a study that explores the elements and their interactions that result in the trend in CS education, in which practical training prevails. This study compares the historical state and current state of CS education, and attribute the change to several elements: companies, educators, students, global competition, and the fast transmission of information. Global competition leads to competitiveness among technology companies, and the fast transmission of information leads to agility in software development. The two properties are transferred to educators and students subsequently, resulting in the current trend in CS education.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Course Scheduler, Frontend Development, WebAssembly, Actor Network Theory, CS Education

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Technical Advisor: Daniel Graham
STS Advisor: Sean Ferguson
Technical Writing Advisor: Rosanne Vrugtman

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