Monday, March 10, 2014

Back from SIGCSE 2014

I attended SIGCSE 2014 in Atlanta last week. It's the fifth Symposium in the past six years I've been able to attend. There were over 1200 attendees (mainly computer science educators) at the Symposium this year.

Getting females engaged in computing remained a huge focus as usual. Interestingly enough, I would gauge that close to 50% of the conference participants were females (education is generally not short on females). There was also a big emphasis on getting computing into K-12. Hadi Partovi of (you know, the Hour of Code guys) gave a keynote one morning on this topic which really pumped up the audience.

Big Data and Data Science seemed to be two important and related topics that received quite a lot of attention. Scanning the conference program, there were two papers on Data Science, and two posters and two papers about Big Data. I'm surprised no one offered a workshop on either topic.

One topic that seemed less important was mobile programming. There was one paper on using Android projects in CS1, and a workshop on App Inventor, but this topic is not nearly as hot as it was a few years ago when I offered an Android workshop to a packed room of CS educators in Dallas. I think it's because mobile programming is so ubiquitous today.

On Friday evening I manned a poster entitled Resources for Teaching Web Science to Computer Science Undergraduates by Michael Nelson and myself. (You can find the resources here.) I was somewhat surprised that only two of the twenty or so individuals I spoke to that evening knew anything about web science. One individual had been teaching a similar course but didn't know it could be called "web science". It was nice to see a lot of interest in the topic.

The next morning was my favorite session: Nifty Assignments. But this time I was one of the presenters! I introduced Schelling's Model of Segregation using some history of the Little Rock Nine as back-drop. The other presentations were pretty fantastic.

One thing I love about SIGCSE is being immersed into new ideas that I will use to make my teaching better. The thing I don't like is the feeling that I'm not teaching as well as some of my peers! Equally good motivation to keep on improving.