Philip Johnson


Information and Computer Sciences Department,
College of Natural Sciences

The pedagogical trajectory of Professor Philip Johnson of the Information and Computer Sciences Department has been synchronous with the trajectory of technology, creating subsequent paradigm shifts in his teaching practices and his students’ learning. When YouTube allowed free video uploads of more than ten minutes, Dr. Johnson saw a crucial technology barrier fall away, and began “flipping” his classes. Later when ICS curriculum in his field was modified from being taught over a full academic year to one semester, he initiated a higher performance learning environment he called “Athletic Software Engineering,” based on his experience as a competitive outrigger canoe paddler and CrossFit member. Thus students achieve competency by performing timed “workouts” on real world systems they have built, enabling them to solve problems correctly and also solve the quickly. Students respond with great enthusiasm: “Dr. Johnson is one of the few professors that implements current technology into his course,” and “I can already start to apply the skills I have learned in my current job,” and “I will use the tools and strategies I learned for the rest of my life.” Professor Johnson offers students a challenge they have not encountered before—consistent, team- based, fast-paced, results-oriented project work like they can expect in a real software-development setting. Alumni of ICS report that his courses were the most useful to them in their future work in the community. A former student who became Professor Johnson’s teaching assistant and later a graduate research assistant in his lab expressed a “deep respect for Dr. Johnson due to his extensive knowledge, his unapologetically intense enthusiasm for teaching, his endless devotion to his students, and his infectious passion for constant innovation.”

Information and Computer Sciences Department