Reflections on SIGCSE From the Past 30 Years
pers, 36 short papers, posters, demonstrations and two panels. The conference format was a three-day conference with the
afternoon off on the middle day for optional tours of the local
area. That format was well received and continues today. The
conference also had something new the Symposium did not—
Working Groups. Working group members came early to the
conference, worked for five days on a topic, presented during
the conference to get quick feedback, and finished a substantial
paper by the last day. I attended ITiCSE that summer and participated in the Working Group on Visualization [ 4]. Working
groups are a great way to meet international colleagues, get to
know the working group members well, and develop long-term
collaborations. How were the working groups different then?
That first year we started and finished the paper all in five days!
I remember it as being quite intense, staying up late that last
night. Now Working Groups begin their work before they arrive at the conference, sometimes collecting survey data in advance, and usually have significant work done when they arrive
at the conference.
WHAT AND HOW SHOULD WE TEACH?
The SIGCSE community has been a great resource for ideas
on what to teach and how to teach computer science, with a
large focus on introductory programming and more recently
on computing in K- 12. There have been many fiery papers
and panels over the years at the SIGCSE Symposium with
views on which programming language to teach, and how
best to teach specific languages (e.g., introducing objects
early or late in the curriculum). One of my first experiences
in introductory programming in K- 12 was with the AP CS
program, of which many in the SIGCSE community have
been involved. My participation began in 1995 when I joined
the AP CS Development Committee, the committee that
writes the exam. The AP CS exam was quite controversial
then as it switched from Pascal to C++ in 1998 and then to
Java in 2004. Since exams are developed at least three years
out, I was involved with exams in all three programming
lunch with Rocky Ross who brought along Alan Biermann from
Duke. Alan talked about a new teaching position Duke had created called Professor of the Practice. Little did he or I know that
I would go back to RPI, think about that position on and off
for about 5 weeks, before finally applying. Two months later I
moved to Duke, transforming my career from a tenure-track
research position to a teaching-track position.
What were some of the topics covered at the SIGCSE 1994
Symposium? On women in computing there was one paper and
one panel. On K- 12 in computing there were two papers, two
panels and a tutorial. Of those, one of the panels and one of the
tutorials were about the AP CS program. The SIGCSE Symposium would be a hotbed for discussion on the direction of the
AP CS program for years to come. There were also papers on
how to deal with large enrollments such as peer learning and
automatic grading. Enrollments were large then but not at the
levels we have today.
It was exciting to be a part of the explosion of visualizations
aiding the teaching of CSED. After meeting many colleagues interested in this topic in 1993 and 1994, six of us presented a tutorial on visual demonstrations at SIGCSE 1995 [ 8]. It was very
exciting to be on my first tutorial (now called special sessions)
at the Symposium. These collaborations led me to organize my
first workshop, the Workshop on Interactive and Visual Tools,
held at Duke in March 1996 with 35 attendees.
Around this time in 1996 SIGCSE started a new conference,
ITiCSE, to be held in Europe every year during the summer.
The conference was named Integrating Technology into Computer Science Education, though a few years later the name
was changed to the Conference on Innovation and Technology
in Computer Science Education (keeping the same acronym).
What was ITiCSE like in its first year in 1996? The first conference was held in Barcelona, Spain and was a much smaller
Figure 3: SIGCSE Board in 2008: Doug Baldwin, John Impagliazzo,
Dan Joyce, Renée McCauley, Wanda Dann, Ingrid Russell, Alison Clear,
Barbara Boucher Owens, and Henry Walker.
Figure 4: Erich and Markus at the first SIGCSE Kid’s Camp in 2008.