Computer science class gets modern twist

comp110

 UNC computer science program graduate Kris Jordan uses assignments to teach his COMP 110 class. 

Instead of taking the traditional bottom-up approach and building from basics to the harder stuff, Jordan said he has turned the traditional curriculum on its head and now begins his class with assignments that involve a lot of work behind the scenes, which lets him introduce more difficult concepts faster.

A graduate of UNC’s computer science program, Jordan said he was eager to find a teaching position for fall 2015.

“Teaching has always been something that’s kind of lingered in the background, you know? It’s always been something I thought would be awesome. It’s been a real joy,” Jordan said.

He said was overjoyed to hear UNC had an open lecturer position in its Department of Computer Science.

“I was on a camping trip in South Africa and just sort of ran out of the tent like, ‘Yes,’” Jordan said.

His dedication to his students doesn’t stop at the new curriculum.

Jordan said he has created an environment in which students feel like they can learn and have fun doing it. He said students’ homework includes creating emojis and moving DJ Khaled’s head around.

“The goal of these projects is really sort of a head fake. It seems silly and funny and fun to work on, but in the process of solving it, we’re pushing you way harder than we were last semester. It’s exciting to see folks off and running,” Jordan said.

In order to make sure each student gets the most out of Computer Science 110, Jordan said has set up a new system of teaching assistants and learning assistants that ensures individual help for all of his students whenever they might need it.

Learning assistants Mohamed Lansari and Victoria Miller, both first-years, said Jordan is an energetic and fun teacher who’s very dedicated to his students. After completing the course in the fall, they said they both were selected to be part of Jordan’s new learning assistant program.

They assist the students and provide individual help to Jordan’s almost 600 students, while receiving a stipend from the computer science department.

“It’s like a job,” Lansari said.

Teaching assistant and junior Jeffrey Young said in the fall semester they didn’t receive a single negative student review, a feat almost unimaginable for many college instructors.

“He really does care about the students. He’s 100 percent devoted to them,” Young said.

Jordan said he hopes to move the class to a larger facility in order to accommodate even more students.

Kevin Jeffay, chairperson of the computer science department, said he wants to expand the program.

“The goal is to have sufficient capacity so that we don’t have to turn anyone away,” Jeffay said.

With his youthful style and impressive network of student help, Jordan is keeping computer science interesting.

“He really has his finger to the pulse of the students,” Young said.

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