Friday, March 06, 2009

I'm at SIGCSE 2009

My spring break started a little early this year. Scott Ragsdale and I drove down to Chattanooga, TN, on Wed for SIGCSE 2009. This is the first time I’ve attended the conference, and so far I’ve been very impressed, both with the conference and with Chattanooga.

SIGCSE brings together computer science educators from around the globe to share and discuss the latest in computing education. There are around 1200 participants this year and numerous talks and workshops to choose from.

On Wed night Scott and I attended a workshop entitled Engaging Student Learning Through Virtual World Programming. It was mainly about introducing the world of Second Life. We created avatars and then learned how to navigate the virtual world, create objects, and use the Linden Language scripting language. I wasn’t very impressed with Second Life... it felt like a very dysfunctional, overly sexualized place that I didn’t want to be in for very long (although flying is kinda fun). It’s hard for me to imagine my students liking it much either.

Today’s favorite buzz word was “collaborative learning”. Most presenters felt obliged to use it at least twice in their talk. Despite the overuse, I was quite convinced that students do learn more effectively when they are teaching each other. I’m also convinced that I need to make some changes to my intro to programming classes that makes better use of this fact.

At one of the sessions, I learned how I will not be able to teach iPhone development to my GUI students next fall. I was hoping to teach Objective C and iPhone programming in the final five weeks of the course, but the learning curve is just too steep to teach effectively in a 5 week period, especially when compared with Windows Mobile programming.

I’m too exhausted to list everything I saw today, but it was very worthwhile. And tonight’s reception at the Tennessee Aquarium was fantastic.

(This entry was written Thurs night.)