Day one of the CSTA is dedicated to workshops. Attendees sign up for up to two workshops, one morning and one afternoon. I didn’t sign up for any (long story), so I popped in to Mark Guzdial and Barb Ericsson’s Python and Media Comp session. I use some of their materials in my class, so it was good to see some different things. I had to duck out and call back in to work, but came back after. I also heard a bit of the Big Data session next door. And people talked about many of the sessions being really helpful.
In the afternoon, I wandered around the exhibit hall, where I chatted with the folks from NCWIT, Mark and his ECEP program, the Touch Develop folks from Microsoft, who are also sponsoring a cool code challenge, Google folks, and Oracle Academy. All of them have some interesting programs going on.
One of the things that’s a challenge as a CS teacher these days is that there are so many options, it’s hard to decide what to do. Touch Develop does look cool, and I might introduce it to my Mobile Computing students this year, but I’ve already mostly planned that class out but I had planned on talking about different ways of coding mobile apps, so I’ll add this to my list. Oracle has been in touch to see if I was interested in their program. At first, I turned them down, but after talking to their rep for a while, I see some possible uses of their program. So I’m going to give it another look when I get back.
Google’s program is an after-school club aimed at Middle School, which might work for those who don’t have CS in their schools yet, but which seems like it wouldn’t be a good fit for those that do. I’m always skeptical about whether having CS after school is a good idea. It means that administrators might not be inclined to include it in the curriculum and it means that CS is seen as “extra” and not as something crucial to the school curriculum.
In the evening, we went to Universal Technical Institute to see what they do. They are a trade school for the automotive industry and we got to see what they do. They were only loosely connected to CS, given that most of the computing they do is about using software, but I could see someone with CS skills might be interested in the problem solving involved with auto repair. The systems are quite complex and many times, probably require a fair about of thinking to solve a problem. For me, personally, my students might aim to design and engineer cars, but not repair them. It was an interesting look at an industry I don’t know much about.
Chris Stephenson gave a 10 year retrospective of CSTA, which was great. Hard to believe CSTA is just 10 years old. I don’t know what people did without CSTA. Having a professional organization is important to feeling like a professional. I’m looking forward to the sessions today. They all look pretty interesting. I always learn something from this conference. I’m sure that will be true today.