First live conference in 2 years
Tomorrow I'll be driving up to Providence Rhode Island for SIGSE 2022, basically the largest computer science education conference out there. I guess ITSE, a conference I've never attended, is larger but that's really EdTech with some CS.
The last in person conference I went to was two almost exactly two years ago - also SIGCSE. I arrived in Portland and went to a pre-conference session and on the morning of the big start, about three hours before I ran my session, I saw an email saying we were canceled. I flew home and a few days later we began our shelter in for covid.
In spite of the latest CDC release, SIGCSE is still requiring masks. This is something I support. I have no problem taking a conservative view on health, particularly at an event that brings together people from all over the world.
The sessions should be comfortable. Everybody will be vaccinated and should be masked so it's no different than attending a concert in NYC. I am curious though about the lunches and big reception. Will everyone just dump the masks for food since we're all vaccinated? Will there be some trepidation? We'll see.
I'm also curious to see the overall attendance. The last SIGCSE had well over 1,500 attendees. What will this one be like?
There are some sessions I'm really looking forward to. There are some on K12 teacher preparation and professional development. I feel pretty confident that the approach I'm taking at Hunter is the right one but it's always good to see what other people are thinking about and trying - always happy to steal better ideas. I'm also looking forward to some of the sessions that deal with teaching more advanced CS concepts. This is something that's lacking in CS Ed. The CSTA conference which focuses on K12 is more about actual teaching but since K12 CS is still in its infancy, most schools are still dealing with intro level stuff and conferences like CSTA really have to work to support our new teachers.
Most importantly though, I'm looking forward to seeing people that I haven't seen in a couple of years. Both those that I consider real friends and also the many acquaintances I'm friendly with.
I'm also looking to see the breakdown of K12 and higher ed people. Over the years the number of K12 teachers at the conference has grown and it's interesting to see the differences in the camps. The teachers, by and large know far less CS but are much stronger teachers while the professors know the topic but while they might research teaching, they don't nearly have the depth of teaching knowlege that K12 teachers posess.
This is a probably unfair oversimplification but you could say that teachers teach the student and professors teach the subject.
This can make for an interesting dynamic. I hope over time, the teachers become stronger in the subject material and that the professors realize that teaching is an art and a craft and that what one does at an elite institution is worlds away from the inner city middle school.
Anyway, enough yammering. For those of you who'll be in providence this week, make sure to say hi. I'm sure we'll all learn a lot and have a blast doing it.