Kent computer expert recognised for impact on computer science education

Michael Kölling, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Kent, has been named as the winner of the Outstanding Contribution to Computer Science Education award by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group for Computer Science Education (SIGCSE).

The international award recognises Professor Kölling’s work in the Computer Science Education field which centres on the development of software tools and material for the teaching and learning of programming in schools and universities.

The most recent of these software tools, named Greenfoot, has played a significant part in increasing the interest and engagement of computer science in schools, an area recognised by the Department for Education as key to future success of the subject. Fun and easy to use, it encourages interaction and discussion within a dedicated computer science community. The system teaches object orientation with Java and creates ‘actors’ who live in ‘worlds’ to build games, simulations and other graphical programs.

Alongside Greenfoot, Professor Kölling has worked on two other software systems used to motivate and engage schools with computer programming and software development. ‘Blue’, a computer science research project and ‘BlueJ’, an environment to teach programming at university level, were also recognised as part of the award.

The systems have attracted a global audience and currently reached more than 12 million public downloads. They are available for use by teachers and education professionals and are also available for individuals to download.

Speaking about the award, Professor Kölling said: ‘It is a great honour that the work on these systems has been recognised on an international level for the contributions they make to computer science education. As we continue to work on new software systems and undertake research in this field, I hope we will help raise awareness of the importance of computer science education for future generations.’

This is the second time the School of Computing at the University of Kent has won this award. Professor Sally Fincher was recognised in 2010 for her contribution to computing education research and inspiring a generation of computing education researchers.

SIGCSE, an interest group of the ACM, the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, will present the award to Professor Kölling at their annual conference in March 2013.