Tuesday, October 30, 2007

CDC Hosts Academic Workshop

No, not the Centers for Disease Control, this is the Coalition to Diversify Computing (and a more appropriate group for this Blog :-) -- CDC is a group that works to promote diversity across many dimensions in computing; a group that we hope will participate at SIGCSE 2008.

Their next project is a workshop -- in their words: "The goal of the workshop is to mentor underrepresented assistant- and associate-level faculty and senior doctoral students about the tenure and promotion processes in academia."

The workshop takes place at the end of Nov into Dec 2007 in Texas, but the deadline to apply is close, Nov 9, 2007 -- start there, end up in Portland in March 2008!

-- Details:
Friday, November 30, 2007 - Sunday, December 2, 2007
Hilton Hotel in College Station, Texas
Deadline for Participant Applications - Friday, November 9, 2007
Contact Valerie Taylor, vet3@cs.tamu.edu

Monday, October 29, 2007

Doctoral Consortium: replanting the garden

Hey, I like the title, esp. when I recall the metaphor of "eating our seed corn" a few years ago during the dot-com boom -- the annual SIGCSE Doctoral Consortium always gets rave reviews from both participants and discussants, and the deadline for application is just a week away, click here for more information, and/or contact Josh and Donald directly.

From Josh, the aims of the Doctoral Consortium are:
  • To offer a friendly forum for students to discuss their work and receive constructive feedback so as to advance each student's research.
  • To provide relevant information on issues important to doctoral candidates.
  • To nurture a community of researchers in computing education.
The Consortium is designed for students currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program. The Consortium allows participants to interact with established university researchers in computing education (the discussants) and with other PhD students, and to reflect -- through short activities, information sessions, and discussions -- on the process and lessons of research and life in academia.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Rambling home from PDX again ...

The initial post to this blog was made two months ago from the lovely Portland, Oregon airport (PDX), also the site of this post. The program committee for SIGCSE 2008 has been working hard to put together a comprehensive set of paper presentations, panels, special sessions and workshops to address the important issues in computing education from around the world. There are still some logistics to resolve, but we are optimistic that the schedule will be made public by the end of October 2007 (as planned). Again, I am amazed (for the 4th time) with how many people contribute submissions, reviews and sheer energy in processing these materials, persisting through many tough decisions as the schedule is never long enough to include all the material we really want to include.

So, while sitting in PDX (with great free wireless -- hear that PHL???), I discovered that President Bush proclaimed October 2007 as National Disability Employment Awareness Month -- I read through the White House press release, and I know that the President was too busy to compose it himself, but most of the proclamation seems reasonable -- I certainly agree that "It is important that we continue to expand on these opportunities [ADA] for Americans with disabilities by eliminating the barriers and false perceptions that hinder them from joining the workforce."

Who could argue with that goal? What I would like to concentrate on are the actual means to realize true accessibility, and since my expertise lies in computing education, I'll start there. Computing traditionally starts its approach to accessibility with assistive technology and HCI; these are important approaches, and have benefited many people with disabilities.

I would like to suggest that these approaches are not enough, and there are many computing educators who realize this point as well. I would argue that we need to actively seek expertise from learning researchers, colleagues, and especially from the students themselves. I would not be surprised to find that many of the obstacles encountered by students with disabilities are less physical/structural and more process/culture/incorrect assumptions.

And this is important work -- Jan Cuny (University of Oregon, photo left) has stated in a NYTimes article that also featured one of the keynote speakers for SIGCSE 2008, Ed Lazowska (and I'm paraphrasing, please forgive ...) that we need to discover more students with potential in computing from not just the traditional areas or there will be shortages of prepared professionals (i.e., we need to reach women, minorities, and those with disabilities) -- if only there was a conference that addressed this -- well, there are a few, including SIGCSE 2008, but also ASSETS, ITiCSE 2007, ....

OK, I feel better now -- SIGCSE 2008 is only a few months away -- I look forward to again discussing and reflecting on these and other issues involving computing education -- the program schedule, registration and hotel reservations should be open soon, so return here or visit the virtual home of SIGCSE 2008 so that you can visit the real home of the Symposium next March.

Now to return to my real home (miles to go before I sleep ...).

Monday, October 15, 2007

An Invitation to SIGCSE 2008 ...

The planning committee for SIGCSE 2008 are busy, well, planning, so I will be brief -- kudos to Paul Tymann for the Roommate Database to match attendees and share expenses (and thus increase attendance) -- more kudos to Tammy VanDeGrift for the excellent Hotel, Shopping and Restaurant Map where you can interact and plan your conference.

Congrats also to my co-chair Susan Rodger, whose educational tool JFLAP was celebrated as a finalist for the Premier Award at the recent Frontiers in Education Conference. Susan has the slides and a demo at her JFLAP site.

More "shout-outs" to Jeliot 3, also a finalist for the Premier Award at FIE 2007; clearly computing is producing useful tools for engineering education.

Below is the text from our invitation sent to the SIGCSE listserv today.


We are pleased to provide you with information about the SIGCSE 2008
conference to be held in Portland, Oregon: March 12-15, 2008.


Ten highlights here on information about SIGCSE 2008 including
how it may be different than years past and why you should head to
SIGCSE in the northwest this year!

More details on these items are below.

1) Call for Posters and Bofs: Deadline November 5
2) Registration rates - same as 2007!
3) Conference hotel - free metro ride from convention center
4) Events in the Conference Hotel
5) Three Keynote Speakers: Mayer, Lazowska and SIGCSE Award Winner
6) Saving trees - CD instead of paper proceedings
7) Come early for the pre-conference events
8) Stay late for a workshop! Portland TrailBlazers! Cirque du Soleil!
9) Find a roommate - available now
10) Portland is great! No sales tax, wine country, nice restaurants!

Here are more details.

1) Call for Posters and Bofs: Deadline November 5

There is still a chance to submit. See details at:


2) Registration rates - same as 2007!

We've managed to keep the registration rates the same as 2007.
Registration rates are posted on the attendees page:


Registration will be available in November.

3) Conference hotel - free metro ride from convention center

The conference hotel, the Hilton Portland and Executive Towers,
will be in downtown Portland. The Oregon Convention Center
is across the river. There is a free metro (called MAX) that you can
take one block from the Hilton and it drops you off right in front
of the convention center.

Two other hotels, Inn at the Convention Center and the Red Lion,
will be available near the convention center.

Hotel registration should be available soon on the conference site.

4) Events in the conference hotel

The Birds of a Feather and the Thursday night SIGCSE Reception will
be held at the Conference Hotel, The Portland Hilton and Executive
Towers. All other events will be held at the Oregon Convention Center.

5) Three Keynote Speakers: Mayer, Lazowska and SIGCSE Award Winner

We have three keynote speakers lined up. The SIGCSE Award Winner (to
be determined) will speak on Thursday. Marissa Mayer, Vice President
of Search Products and User Experience, at Google will speak on Friday
morning. Ed Lazowska, the Bill and Melinda Gates Chair in Computer
Science and Engineering at the University of Washington will speak at
the Saturday Luncheon.

6) Saving trees - CD instead of paper proceedings

We will be saving trees and issuing CD proceedings instead of paper.
You can pre-order a paper proceedings for $35. Please register
early to guarantee availability of paper, as we will limit the printing
of paper proceedings.

7) Come early for the pre-conference events

There will be a Doctoral Consortium and Roundtable for Department
Chairs during the day on the Wednesday before SIGCSE. There may be other
pre-conference events scheduled on this date.

And as usual, there will be SIGCSE Wednesday night workshops starting
at 7pm.

8) Stay late for a workshop! Portland TrailBlazers! Cirque du Soleil!

Saturday workshops will be scheduled from 4-7pm.

Saturday night you could watch the Portland Trailblazers play at 7pm (you
can walk across the street to the arena after attending a workshop!) or
catch a Cirque du Soleil show.

9) Find a roommate - available now

If you would like to find a roommate, Paul Tymann has graciously
provided the Roommate Database again this year. Please check it out
now on the attendees page.


10) Portland is great! No sales tax, wine country, nice restaurants!

That's right, stay and shop, there is no sales tax in Oregon. Also
check out a winery and try some of the many nice restaurants. We have
included a google map on the attendees page that shows the conference
hotels, the convention center and many recommended restaurants.

Plus there's Powell's Books, including
Powell's Technical Books, 33 NW Park, Portland - (503) 228-4651.

And we have ordered sunny weather!

Susan Rodger and J.D. Dougherty
SIGCSE 2008 Symposium Chairs
rodger@cs.duke.edu, jd@cs.haverford.edu

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Rommate Database: share costs, new friends

Paul Tymann, Chair Emertius and all around good guy, has again made a roommate matching service available for SIGCSE 2008. This service should help with costs, and to stay at the conference hotel (which I can state is a beautiful hotel). Moreover, it might be a chance to make a new acquaintance, a new story at SIGCSE. Thanks, Paul.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Not just a Computing Education Issue ...

Tonight I attended a lecture by our new provost, Linda Bell, a successful economics professor whose current interests involve the gender gap in executive compensation. I do not want to share the salary and compensation numbers I saw in the talk, only that issues about diversity (part of the SIGCSE 2008 theme) is not limited to our field. What I found interesting was Linda's methodology, her use of rigorous statistics (thanks goodness for Statistics Bootcamp!) and deep exploration of the question, led to some interesting results (summarized here).

The SIGCSE conferences and community work to foster better education in computing. The community is composed mostly of computer scientists dedicated to improving teaching. Much of the conference consists of practical experiences in the classroom (even the non-traditional classroom), but I am becoming more motivated to explore issues in CS education with a similar approach, and hoping that can inform our community. Pie in the sky, but why not try?

I am pleased to explore diversity issues statistically, anecdotally, economically, computationally, ... you get the picture. As I listen to talks and read articles, I feel better knowing that our community does not struggle alone.

One interesting concept from Pf. Bell's lecture I learned -- in certain economic theory, discrimination may exist, but should not persist as it takes away from profits in the long run (I am certainly paraphrasing). There is some analogy to computing education and student performance, please help me fill in the gaps.

P.S.: I thought to find a cite for some of the economics I was describing above, so I started at Google and already found this post within five minutes after the initial post -- kinda freaked me out :-S