CSIT 2012 Conference Reflections
I’ve just returned from CSIT2012 conference, which gave me an extra booster shot of CS advocacy energy. Here were the highlights and lowlights for me.
The highlights (or things that energized me):
- One workshop I attended was the Exploring Computer Science - Teaching with Inquiry. I have used pieces of this curriculum with my MS tech teaching, but was excited to see how many have adopted at HS as an entre into AP CS. Their initial goal was to increase diversity of students participating in CS edu in LA schools. They have achieved 40% enrollment of girls! They are now offering support to other districts. I spoke to several educators who have implemented and seen a dramatic increase in CS participation.
- The other workshop I chose to attend was the Beauty and Joy of Computing, just cause I liked the name. I am so glad I did. Dr. Dan Garcia of UC Berkeley is practically on fire with his enthusiasm for computer science. He also showed us some really cool mods to Scratch: BYOB (downloadable that adds procedures, temp variables and recursion) and SNAP! (online version which will work on tablets!).
- The visit to the UC Irvine Bren School of ICS was really awesome. They had several demonstrations for us to see professor & student work in action. My fav was Circuit Bending (aka Toy Hacking), a project to create a workshop format for kids to learn about electronics by taking apt toys and reconfiguring them. Also Andre van deer Hoek demonstrated Calico, a system they designed to help CS students better understand the software design process. I also loved that he came running after our bus, so he could say goodbye and give us UC Irvine packages, in a real demonstration of the importance of K-12 educators to post-secondary education.
- The Opening Keynote by Baker Franke and Cameron Wilson about CS Advocacy was also very powerful and helped give me a personal boost. It’s also where I got the image from.
- I learned more about the Computer Science Collaboration Project from Karen Peterson & Vicky Raya, both of whom I had met at a FabFem booth at the National Science & Engineering Festival. Does that make CS a small world?
- I loved how many CS Unplugged activities were included in different sessions.
- It was great to meet other awesome and inspiring CS educators and advocates, including Alfred Thompson (who really does wear that hat everywhere), Kathleen Weaver (also a Syster) & Patrice Gans (also a Montessori tech teacher) among many others.
The lowlights (or things that frustrated me):
- It was a really small conference and I felt by and large, one that was preaching to the choir. Now I know it is important to reinvigorate the choir, but what other venues are there to show this level of energy and commitment to CS with those who don’t yet understand? Maybe there could be special invitations and incentives for administrators, edtech folks and even parents.
- I felt my own presentation, CS Education Advocacy: Lessons from Hogwarts went okay, but I was nervous and definitely stumbled over some of the content. On the plus side, I connected with another concerned CS parent and a K-8 Montessori tech teacher. No pain, no gain!
- There seemed to be an overwhelming number of HS teachers, mostly teaching AP CS and not enough K-8 teachers helping prep for this course. As someone said, for all the other AP courses, students have had plenty of experience with the subject area throughout their educational experience, but for CS there often isn’t any prep and students have to dive right into the deep end.
- I was happy to find that CSTA is putting some focus on K-8 CS education, but if I’m only finding out about it at this conference, how on earth will other educators find out about it?
- No Internet access (or outrageously expensive internet access). Seems kind of crucial for a tech-based conference.