About Shimon


Shimon is the founding dean of the Efi Arazi School of Computer Science at IDC Herzliya, a new Israeli university founded in 1994. Before returning to Israel in 1995, Shimon was associate professor and program director at New York University (1986-1996), and a visiting professor at Harvard University. Shimon holds a Ph.D. in Operations and Systems Management from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He won the ICIS Best Doctoral Dissertation award (1987), IBM's Eclipse Scholar Award (2005), and a recent Google grant (2010) to develop games that expose kids to scientific thinking, with special emphasis on algorithmics. Shimon published in the areas of decision theory and computer science fundamentals, including books by MIT Press and McGraw-Hill. His two life passions are mountain biking and computer science education.


English, Hebrew

TED Conferences

TEDGlobal 2012, TEDGlobal 2009

Areas of Expertise

Computer Science, mountain biking, education

An idea worth spreading

People want to give. What they lack is a structure and a framework that will help them zero in on a cause and a project that turn them on.

I'm passionate about

Cross country mountain biking. And after biking 20,000 miles in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia, I am convinced that Israel is the best mountain biking location in the world


Harvard, NYU, IDC Herzliya

People don't know I'm good at

Rehabilitating convicted juvenile offenders

My TED story

I watch TED talks daily, during lunch break. I am co-organizer of TEDxTelAviv, which will be held in Spring 2010.

Comments & conversations

Shimon Schocken
Posted almost 3 years ago
Shimon Schocken: The self-organizing computer course
I am not categorically against grading. In fact, many students thrive in a competitive, grade-based system. At the same time, there is a huge population out there which is denied decent career opportunities because – for one reason or another – they do not fit the conventional college grade-based system. The new wave of open-admission web-based courses (like Nand2Tetris) is perfectly suited for such self-learners. Now, it seems to me that this revolution provides a unique opportunity to reform our grading practices. In the extreme, we can outsource grading completely. For example, we can demand that different professions will administer proficiency exams, given outside the academic system. Such exams will be written by committees consisting of university professors and industry experts. For example, it is not too difficult to write an annual set of exams that will qualify people as Java programmers or algorithm designers. Any person should get the opportunity to take whatever courses he or she wants in computer science, and then take these proficiency exams. These exams may well have grades like fail, pass, and high pass. This is just one out of many possible ways to reform traditional grading and make learning less stressful and more meritocratic. Here is another example: in our K12 math learning software, we use neither multiple-choice questions, nor explicit negative feedback like "incorrect" or "false". Why? Because we want kids to feel safe to explore and make mistakes. When a child makes a mistake, e.g. failing to divide a pizza correctly to several equal slices, we reset and shake the pizza pie slightly, to indicate that the task was not completed. The feedback that we wish to convey is not "wrong answer", but rather "nice try, keep trying". To sum up, let's not take the current grading system for granted; let's think creatively about innovative ways to motivate learners and evaluate their ability to excel in different professions. -- Shimon