Last night I attended an opera with a friend.  People watching is a big part of the pre-show activities, and at some point we starting discussing fashion.  Among other things I noted that the current fashion for women (skinny cropped pants, dropped-shoulder sweaters, etc.) doesn’t appeal to me.  This morning I returned to work and read a CACM article about Massively Online Open Courses (MOOCs), and it clearly dawned on me in a way it never has before that computer science educators are subject to fads just like anyone else.  MOOCs happen to be one of the current fads, but there have been many, many that came before (computational thinking and gaming I’m looking at you).  I tend to notice the trends more when I don’t buy into them, like in the current fashion (and MOOC) example, but I’ve certainly been guilty of propagating educational trends (again, CT and gaming I’m looking at you).  It makes sense of course.  It’s easier to get your work published when people are excited about your title and abstract alone so anyone who doesn’t read past those still gives you a decent review.  But I think it can further exacerbate the cyclical trends that computing seems to demonstrate.  There’s always some shiny new approach on the horizon, and people constantly forget the lessons that the previous trends taught us.  It may simply be human nature, but I find it fascinating that a group of people who pride themselves on their logical and practical approach to things can be subject to the same impulse that has women buying pants that are unflattering on a vast majority of the population.

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