Are college professors teaching computer science with ruby?


#1

I was wondering if anybody taught the traditional computer courses in
ruby.

With a google search, I found Dr Cripps at mtsu using Rails (not clear
if he is using something else as well) to teach programming theory, Dr
Lewis at Duke using ruby and rails to teach web application
development, Tinkham and Kaner at Olin university using ruby in a
course on software testing. A few using ruby as a 4th or 5th language
briefly mentioned.

Does anyone know of any college course?

If this sample is representative of the thousands of universities
offering their syllabus on line, does that mean that ruby has not
penetrated the fortress of universities/colleges? Is it a matter of
time, or are universities conservative, and they can only teach the
language most used, ie C++ and Java for a while yet.


#2

I use Ruby (being a lab assistant) in my Relational Database
exercises. Getting a lot of resistance though; most students prefer
Python for some not so obvious reason.

Cheers,

Jeroen B.


#3

On 3/17/06, anne001 removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote:

I was wondering if anybody taught the traditional computer courses in
ruby.

Not traditional in the sense of being basic courses in the starting
univ years but in later years yes; see below.

With a google search, I found Dr Cripps at mtsu using Rails (not clear
if he is using something else as well) to teach programming theory, Dr
Lewis at Duke using ruby and rails to teach web application
development, Tinkham and Kaner at Olin university using ruby in a
course on software testing. A few using ruby as a 4th or 5th language
briefly mentioned.

Does anyone know of any college course?

I use Ruby in several of my courses:

  • Software Engineering (Practical tasks from “Personal Software
    Process” done in Ruby)
  • Software Development through Modeling (UML and other modeling
    formalisms, Ruby as example for OO design and design patterns,
    students encouraged to use Ruby for their projects)
  • Verification and Validation (executable testing with examples and
    tasks in Ruby)

Apart from the latter course Ruby has not been a requirement; students
can still use C# or Java or some other OO language for their projects.
However, during lectures and discussions I tend to use Ruby for
examples. The brevity makes it easier for me to focus on the essential
idea/technique without the language being “in the way”.

My students are 4th year students who have in their previous 3 years
been exposed to mainly C, C++, Java and (maybe) C#. They tend to find
Ruby a bit “odd”/different when starting out. After a few weeks/tasks
a majority tends to like it though although I must admit there is
still a percentage who tends to dislike that we go outside of the
“languages strong in industry”. I find this a bit sad but such is
life.

The most impressive thing in the courses tend to be when I
code/refactor tests “live” using Watir or something similar to
automate the testing of a web site. This tends to be a major “selling
point”… :wink:

If this sample is representative of the thousands of universities
offering their syllabus on line, does that mean that ruby has not
penetrated the fortress of universities/colleges? Is it a matter of
time, or are universities conservative, and they can only teach the
language most used, ie C++ and Java for a while yet.

It is a matter of time and what happens to the industry at large. I
would say that many univs are farily conservative and that funding
agencies tends to encourage the use of the main “industrial” languages
(which they often equal with C, C++, Java, C#). This makes especially
senior faculty a bit reluctant to use new languages.

However, there are also quite a large number of univs who do research
on some language / paradigm they prefer and their choice tends to be
to use that language / paradigm in their education.

My 2 cents,

Dr. Robert F.
:wink:


#4

Interesting, I had not thought of the students resenting having to
learn a little know language contributing to the decision of whether or
not to use Ruby.

anne


#5

On 3/17/06, anne001 removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote:

Interesting, I had not thought of the students resenting having to
learn a little know language contributing to the decision of whether or
not to use Ruby.

Well it’s not a major factor in the decision since we use it anyway…
:wink: But since they being motivated is an important factor for their
learning it is something to have in mind, yes. Of course this is also
a factor of their impression of what companies request; and to be
honest a large number of job ads explicilty state “knowledge in X”
where X is one of the “trad languages”. So students tend to want to
build experience with the languages that companies request.

My view is more that the students we educate today should take part in
transforming the industry and thus needs a broader knowledge base than
just what is currently in fashion. This would indicate using more
“obscure” languages like Ruby, Python, Haskell, IO, Transmuter etc.

One downside we have found in using dynlangs “with batteries” (like
Ruby) in the intro year is that they make so many things trivial that
students might not want to “get down there in the mud” and explicitly
code things in C etc. This way they might not get as deep a knowledge
as if they go from a good understanding of the basics up to
higher-level langs. However, there are many takes on this discussion
so not an easy one.

Best,

Robert


#6

On 17 Mar 2006 04:41:31 -0800, anne001 wrote:

Interesting, I had not thought of the students resenting having to
learn a little know language contributing to the decision of whether or
not to use Ruby.

It certainly never contributed to the decision of whether or not to keep
using Pascal instead of C in the 1990s… :slight_smile:

Jay


#7

“Jeroen B.” removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote in message
news:removed_email_address@domain.invalid…

I use Ruby (being a lab assistant) in my Relational Database
exercises. Getting a lot of resistance though; most students prefer
Python for some not so obvious reason.

Prebuild solutions they can find on the web maybe? :slight_smile:

robert

#8

Robert K. wrote:

“Jeroen B.” removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote in message
news:removed_email_address@domain.invalid…

I use Ruby (being a lab assistant) in my Relational Database
exercises. Getting a lot of resistance though; most students prefer
Python for some not so obvious reason.

Prebuild solutions they can find on the web maybe? :slight_smile:

Python may be perceived as a more valuable addition to a resume. Python
probably shows up much more frequently than Ruby in want-ads.


#9

Robert F. wrote:

My view is more that the students we educate today should take part in
transforming the industry and thus needs a broader knowledge base than
just what is currently in fashion. This would indicate using more
“obscure” languages like Ruby, Python, Haskell, IO, Transmuter etc.

IMHO that’s true for a completely other reason as well: the task of
educating people does not stop with the mainstream. In order to be able
to choose from different options you’ll have to know them. So this
knowledge is not only necessary for transforming the industry but even
for working successfully within it. My 0.02…

Kind regards

robert

#10

On 3/17/06, anne001 removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote:

Does anyone know of any college course?
You might take a looki at

http://www.oreillynet.com/ruby/blog/2006/02/ruby_at_school.html

Along with some of the comments.


#11

On 3/17/06, Robert K. removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote:

for working successfully within it. My 0.02…

Yes, that’s a good point. Unfortunately many companies are overly
focused on short-term results and do not see this. And this view
“transfers” into the minds of students and to some degree also to
(some parts of) univ faculty as well…

Regards,

Robert


#12

Hi all
I would like to know if Ruby is used by companies in
Sweden. I am a software consultant that have been using
Java for a (to) long time, but as an old Smalltalker, Ruby
turns me on.
Is Ruby used in projects by companies in Sweden? Are Ruby-
or Rails-knowledge beginning to get valuable?
If you want to email me directly my address is:
anders1-at-vesdakon-dot-se (you know what I mean)

Thanks
Anders V.
UDK
Sweden


#13

In one of our courses (Programming Languages), we study Ruby, and have
to write an assignment using it. Our OS prof let us do the assignments
in any language - I chose to do it in Ruby, and he was happy with that
decision.

anne001 wrote:

I was wondering if anybody taught the traditional computer courses in
ruby.

With a google search, I found Dr Cripps at mtsu using Rails (not clear
if he is using something else as well) to teach programming theory, Dr
Lewis at Duke using ruby and rails to teach web application
development, Tinkham and Kaner at Olin university using ruby in a
course on software testing. A few using ruby as a 4th or 5th language
briefly mentioned.

Does anyone know of any college course?

If this sample is representative of the thousands of universities
offering their syllabus on line, does that mean that ruby has not
penetrated the fortress of universities/colleges? Is it a matter of
time, or are universities conservative, and they can only teach the
language most used, ie C++ and Java for a while yet.


#14

On 3/17/06, Anders V. removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote:

Hi all
I would like to know if Ruby is used by companies in
Sweden. I am a software consultant that have been using
Java for a (to) long time, but as an old Smalltalker, Ruby
turns me on.
Is Ruby used in projects by companies in Sweden? Are Ruby-
or Rails-knowledge beginning to get valuable?
If you want to email me directly my address is:
anders1-at-vesdakon-dot-se (you know what I mean)

As an old member of the Gothenburg Ruby U. Group I should probably
chip in and say that I do not know of any companies that officially
have said that they use Ruby for any business-critical development. I
would guess that it is used quite a lot “under the covers” by
developers for “internal” type-of projects and that interest is
building up.

We use it quite a lot in our research but it is not commercial in the
sense you mean.

There is a pretty large Python-based company in Gothenburg, btw, so
some openness to dynlangs seem to be available in the Swedish business
sector.

Best regards,

Robert F.

Ps. We haven’t met in the Gbg RUG for many years… :wink:


#15

I tried desperately to change the language used for our school’s
Bioinformatics course from Perl to Ruby, but to no avail. Everything
else is being migrated from C++ to Java.

-PJ


#16

thanks, that extended the list quite a bit.

I looked at the maddison tech college web site, and there is no way I
can find this course even knowing it exists! So there may be folks
teaching ruby but it does not blip on the radar because the schools are
not set up to describe course content — or else I did not spend
enough time trying to figure out their site.

I had no idea someone was using ruby at my university!!! Certainly a
search on the course catalog at Harvard came with zip last time I
checked on ruby.


#17

Anders V. wrote:

Hi all
I would like to know if Ruby is used by companies in
Sweden. I am a software consultant that have been using
Java for a (to) long time, but as an old Smalltalker, Ruby
turns me on.
Is Ruby used in projects by companies in Sweden? Are Ruby-
or Rails-knowledge beginning to get valuable?
If you want to email me directly my address is:
anders1-at-vesdakon-dot-se (you know what I mean)

We’re using Ruby at work, and, we’re hiring! We’re based in Stockholm
and we’re looking for people with a strong C++ background and a
general programming interest.

We’re using Ruby and the Iowa web framework talking to a C++ server
for one of our products, so Ruby programmers are welcome to apply,
but the emphasis is on C++ knowledge.

Check out our website at http://www.univits.se, we’ll put up the job ads
sometime next week.

Regards, Jon


#18

In your case what prevented the use of Ruby for this Bioinformatics
course?


#19

— Anders V. removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote:

Hi all
I would like to know if Ruby is used by companies in
Sweden. I am a software consultant that have been using
Java for a (to) long time, but as an old Smalltalker, Ruby
turns me on.
Is Ruby used in projects by companies in Sweden? Are Ruby-
or Rails-knowledge beginning to get valuable?

I have friends working with RoR in one start-up in Stockholm.
Personally I’ve used Ruby in lots of smaller in-house projects over the
years. I also know of in-house Ruby use in other companies.
There seems to be a lot of interest in RoR around here, just like
everywhere. Don’t know if there are many significant projects starting
yet though. (Java is still the safe bet for getting a job now).

/Anders


#20

On 3/17/06, anne001 removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote:

Does anyone know of any college course?

One of my friends is a new professor at Sienna college in
Albany NY. He teaches ruby as part of his “Programming
Languages” course.

He also wrote a paper for some educational conference on
using ruby in coursework, and the first place he submitted
it to noted “other professors have already done something
similar to this”. He rewrote the paper so that it emphasized
different aspects of his teaching, and I believe that was
accepted at a different educational conference.

With the new “Learn to Program” book from the pragmatic
programmer guys, it wouldn’t surprise me if some more
high schools would use ruby for teaching an “Intro to
programming” course. I was just in Borders, and I was
surprised to see that they had quite a few copies there.
(“surprised”, because this particular Borders has recently
cut back their computer-books section quite a bit…).