TITLE: SPLASH 2011 and the Educators' Symposium
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: March 23, 2011 8:13 PM
I have been meaning to write about
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
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,
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
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
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
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