The Future of EdTech: interview with Harvard Professor David Malan.

Learn, People

The Future of EdTech: interview with Harvard Professor David Malan.

Prof. David J. Malan is one of those people. You know, one of those modern Renaissance inspiring leaders with multiple academic achievements, remarkable professional experiences and, most important, with a strong will to have a real impact on the future of our society. Malan’s deep expertise in Cybersecurity allowed him to serve as a Chief Information Officer for Mindset Media first, then as a Computer Science Professor for Harvard University.

In fact, despite his many achievements, Malan’s crowning jewel is definitely his very atypical Harvard course: CS50, which aims to make the mysterious world of programming and the anatomy of our everyday tech companions more accessible to everybody. CS50 (Computer Science 50) is an online 12 week introductory course for aspiring programmers, software engineers and anyone interested in the inner workings of their machines. It belongs to the beautiful realm of OpenCourseware, college-grade courses published for free via the Internet.

Malan encourages both Harvard majors in computer science and anyone interested in the subject to follow the online course. I was delighted of having the opportunity to talk to him and see what he had to say about this wonderful initiative and about the future of Education, from an edTech perspective. 

Here are his thoughts:

First of all, allow me to say I greatly appreciate your work and have been following CS50’s progress for a while now. I was wondering: In general terms, why do you think it is important for students to study Computer Science?

I think better understanding of the increasingly technological world around us today is compelling, particularly given how omnipresent computers now are – in people’s pockets, on people’s desks and laptops. But I also think more fundamental to computer science is the acquisition of a capability to better solve problems and to think more methodically about problems both in and outside of computer science. I would say that computer science helps you crystallize and clarify your thoughts when it comes to solving some problems logically. And I think that, then, is the longest term return on something like a computer science course.

So you would recommend studying at least the basics of computers science not only for those students who want to become a software engineer but that it might be a useful course for any kind of professional profile?

Absolutely! It helps you organize your thoughts more clearly, and I think that has lifelong returns, irrespective of whether you remain in engineering.

Going back to CS50 – how did you manage to engage so much with your students? On social media you have almost 30’000 followers betweenFacebook and Twitter, and over 55’000 CS50 Facebook group members. What’s the recipe for your success?

(Read the full interview here)