TITLE: SPLASH 2011 and the Educators' Symposium AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: March 23, 2011 8:13 PM DESC: ----- BODY: I have been meaning to write about SPLASH 2011 and especially the Educators' Symposium for months, and now I find that Mark Guzdial has beaten me to the punch -- with my own words, no less! Thanks to Mark for spreading the news. Go ahead and read his post if you'd like to see the message I sent to the SIGCSE membership calling for their submissions. Or visit the call for participation straightaway and see what the program committee has in mind. Proposals are due on April 8, only a few weeks hence. Dream big -- we are. For now, though, I will write the entry I've been intending all these months: The Next Ten Years of Software Education
SPLASH 2011 in Portland, Oregon
By the early 2000s, I had become an annual attendee of OOPSLA and had served on a few Educators' Symposium program committees. Out of the blue, John Vlissides asked me to chair the 2004 symposium. I was honored and excited. I eventually got all crazy and cold called Alan Kay and asked him to deliver our keynote address. He inspired us with a vision and ambitious charge, which we haven't been able to live up to yet. When I was asked to chair again in 2005, we asked Ward Cunningham to deliver our keynote address. He inspired us with his suggestions for nurturing simple ideas and practices. It was a very good talk. The symposium as whole, though, was less successful at shaking things than in 2004. That was likely my fault. I have been less involved in the Educators' Symposium since 2006 or 2007, and even less involved in OOPSLA more broadly. Being department head keeps me busy. I have missed the conference. Fast-forward to 2010. OOPSLA has become SPLASH, or perhaps more accurately been moved under the umbrella of SPLASH. This is something that we had talked about for years. 2011 conference chair Crista Lopes was looking for a Educators' Symposium chair and asked me for any names I might suggest. I admitted to her that I would love to get involved again, and she asked me to chair. I'm back! OOPSLA was OO, or at least that what its name said. It had always been about more, but the name brand was of little value in a corporate world in which OOP is mainstream and perhaps even passe. Teaching OOP in the university and in industry has changed a lot over the last ten years, too. Some think it's a solved problem. I think that's not true at all, but certainly many people have stopped thinking very hard about it. In any case, conference organizers have taken the plunge. SPLASH != OOPSLA and is now explicitly not just about OO. The new conference acknowledges itself to be about programming more generally. That makes the Educators' Symposium something new, too, something more general. This creates new opportunities for the program committee, and new challenges. We have decided to build the symposium around a theme of "The Next Ten Years". What ideas, problems, and technologies should university educators and industry trainers be thinking about? The list of possibilities is long and daunting: big data, concurrency, functional programming, software at Internet scale... and even our original focus, object-oriented programming. Our goal for the end of the symposium is to be able to write a report outlining a vision for software development education over the next ten years. I don't expect that we will have many answers, if any, but I do expect that we can at least begin to ask the right questions. And now here's your chance to help us chart a course into the future, whether you plan to submit a paper or proposal to the symposium:
Who would be a killer keynote speaker?
What person could inspire us with a vision for computer science and software, or could ask us the questions we need to be asking ourselves? Finding the right keynote speaker is one of the big questions I'm thinking about these days. Do you have any ideas? Let me know. (And yes, I realize that Alan Kay may well still be one of the right answers!) In closing, let me say that whenever I say "we" above, I am not speaking royally. I mean the symposium committee that has graciously offered their time and energy to designing implementing this challenge: Curt Clifton, Danny Dig, Joe Bergin, Owen Astrachan, and Rick Mercer. There are also a handful of people who have been helping informally. I welcome you to join us. -----