Friday, March 7, 2014

Cognitive Hyperlinking from SIGCSE 2014

At Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta

A lot has been happening at the SIGCSE Symposium this year. As usual there are a plethora of interesting presentations about CS education, and as usual by this point in the conference people you meet during the session breaks are starting to sound hoarse as they try to talk while diving for giant sugar loaded cookies, bagels and cream cheese and the coffee. Carbs and caffeine.

First of all, on Wednesday, one day prior to the official start of the conference, the ACM released the report: "Rebooting the Pathway to Success: Preparing Students for Computing Workforce Needs in the United States". The report is a publication of the ACM Education Policy Committee. Many people contributed significantly to creating this report; it was truly a team effort. As I am one of the authors, rather than saying much about the contents here, I am simply going to suggest you check it out for yourself.

Back to SIGCSE, this morning Hadi Partovi of gave the opening talk and brought everyone up to date on 's activities, accomplishments and plans. It was impressive to hear how much they have accomplished in one short year. As Hadi made clear, they are a lot more than The Hour of Code, although that was a spectacular success based upon many criteria and received the bulk of recent publicity. Hadi also took pains to point out they are also more than the creator of spiffy videos. Here are 4 myths Hadi wanted to debunk:

Myth 1: is all hype and the Hour of Code
Myth 2: wants to do everything by themselves
Myth 3: is only about coding and learning to code
Myth 4: is about the software industry coming in and telling schools how to do their jobs

Hadi spent a chunk of his talk addressing why each of these is incorrect. Many people in the audience, myself included, had no idea just how much is doing, how many people and partners they are working with and how many other activities they are involved with. Much of this information is available on their website for the curious to read about.

What Hadi said was a Truth was that they are disrupting how things used to work. Of course, how you view this disruption depends upon a variety of factors, and I'm sure there will be lots of offline discussions about all this.

On the lighter side, I am sharing a hotel room with the same friend and colleague with whom I (we) blew out the electricity last year by plugging in too many hi-tech devices. We have not as yet destroyed anything, although the single cup coffee maker made sounds remotely reminiscent of a minor explosion when I tried to make too many cups in a row without letting it cool down.

In addition, I want to share a phrase heard from my roommate yesterday morning as we were both trying to multi-task way too early in the day (pre carbs and caffeine): "My brain is hyperlinking".

Perhaps you can use that phrase yourself. 

Here in Atlanta, the conference sessions, conversations, meetings, and cookies continue flowing for another 15 hours. If you are here with us, I hope you are having an excellent conference.

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