Episode 74:
Cliff Anderson

In past episodes, we’ve interviewed other members of the Leading Lines podcast producer team: John Sloop, Melissa Mallon, former producer Ole Molvig, and Derek Bruff. We continue that trend in this episode with an interview with Cliff Anderson, associate university librarian for research and digital initiatives here at Vanderbilt and another Leading Lines producer.

Cliff has been teaching a new course called “The Beauty and Joy of Computing” for a few semesters now. It’s an introduction to computer science and computational thinking aimed at students who aren’t majoring in computer science. This semester, another Leading Lines producer, Gayathri Narasimham, research assistant professor in electrical engineering and computer science, has started teaching it. Gayathri thought it would be interesting to interview Cliff about his experiences designing and teaching the course. We are excited to present their conversation here on Leading Lines.

In the course, Cliff and Gayathri use NetsBlox as their programming language. It’s a blocks-based language, like Scratch or Snap, designed to teach computing concepts visually without having to work through lines of code. Cliff discusses the pros and cons of this approach to teaching computer science, and he shares a little about his interdisciplinary background as a scholar of religion turned librarian turned technologist.



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