TITLE: This and That, Volume 2 AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: March 29, 2010 7:25 PM DESC: ----- BODY:

[A transcript of the SIGCSE 2010 conference: Table of Contents]

Some more miscellaneous thoughts from a few days at the conference... Deja Vu All Over Again Though it didn't reach the level of buzz, concurrency and its role in the CS curriculum made several appearances at SIGCSE this year. At a birds-of-a-feather session on concurrency in the curriculum, several faculty talked about the need to teach concurrent programming and thinking right away in CS1. Otherwise, we teach students a sequential paradigm that shapes how they view problems. We need to make a "paradigm shift" so that we don't "poison students' minds" with sequential thinking. I closed my eyes and felt like I was back in 1996, when people were talking about object-oriented programming: objects first, early, and late, and poisoning students' minds with procedural thinking. Some things never change. Professors on Parade How many professors throw busy slides full of words and bullet points up on the projector, apologize for doing so, and then plow ahead anyway? Judging from SIGCSE, too many. How many professors go on and on about importance of active learning, then give straight lectures for 15, 45, or even 90 minutes? Judging from SIGCSE, too many. Mismatches like these are signals that it's time to change what we say, or what we do. Old habits die hard, if at all. Finally, anyone who thinks professors are that much different than students, take note. In several sessions, including Aho's talk on teaching compilers, I saw multiple faculty members in the audience using their cell phones to read e-mail, surf the web, and play games. Come on... We sometimes say, "So-and-so wrote the book on that", as a way to emphasize the person's contribution. Aho really did write the book on compilers. And you'd rather read e-mail? I wonder how these faculty members didn't pay attention before we invented cell phones. An Evening of Local Cuisine Some people may not be all that excited by Milwaukee as a conference destination, but it is a sturdy Midwestern industrial town with deep cultural roots in its German and Polish communities. I'm not much of a beer guy, but the thought of going to a traditional old German restaurant appealed to me. My last night in town, I had dinner at Mader's Restaurant, which dates to 1902 and features a fine collection of art, antiques, and suits of medieval armour "dating back to the 14th century". Over the years they have served political dignitaries such as the Kennedys and Ronald Reagan and entertainers such as Oliver Hardy (who, if the report is correct, ate enough pork shanks on his visit to maintain his already prodigious body weight). I dined with Jim Leisy and Rick Mercer. We started the evening with a couple of appetizers, including herring on crostinis. For dinner, I went with the Ritter schnitzel, which came with German mashed potatoes and Julienne vegetables, plus a side order of spaetzele. I closed with a light creme brulee for dessert. After these delightful but calorie-laden dishes, I really should have run on Saturday morning! Thanks to Jim and Rick for great company and a great meal. -----