Passion, Beauty, Joy and Awe

Overview


In 2006, computing education was suffering from a crisis – enrollments were dropping sharply at universities and colleges across the United States, and interest in computing from high school and middle school students was waning significantly. At the 2007 SIGCSE Symposium, the ACM Education Board organized a special session to explore the underlying causes. In his keynote at the same conference, Grady Booch exhorted us to share the “passion, beauty, joy and awe” (PBJA) of computing.

Fortunately, enrollments have been continually rising, and there are colleges where the numbers are so strong (returning to historic highs), that some claim the crisis is over. Some point to “the Facebook Factor” as the source of inspiration for many young students, claiming this is a “Sputnik moment." Many dispute this, however, citing statistics that indicate underrepresented students have not returned, and continuing negative connotations about the field. This PBJA “movement” was born out of this enrollment crisis, but is not tied to it.There is always value in sharing novel best practices and advocating techniques that make computing fun.

In the past, we tried to gather educators who brought a wide variety of perspectives (e.g., in 2010 we heard from international, domestic, high school, university and industrial representatives). At recent sessions, we’ve shifted from that “breadth-first” model to a “depth-first” one. This year we have invited three educators who have worked tirelessly toward broadening participation of computing to underrepresented groups. The hope with this panel is to be able to explore best practices in outreach, in terms of extolling the PBJA of computing.

 

SIGCSE '14

Abstract

Moderator
Daniel Garcia
Daniel GarciaPPT | PDF

 

Jennifer Campbell Barbara Ericson

Rebecca Dovi Joanna Goode

Cay Horstmann
Cay Horstmann

SIGCSE '13

Abstract

Moderator
Daniel Garcia
Daniel GarciaPPT | PDF

Valerie Barr Barbara Ericson

Mark Guzdial Joanna Goode

David J. Malan
Colleen Lewis

SIGCSE '12

Abstract

Moderator
Daniel Garcia
Daniel GarciaPPT | PDF

Barbara Ericson Barbara Ericson

Joanna Goode Joanna Goode

Colleen Lewis
Colleen Lewis

SIGCSE '11

Abstract

Moderator
Daniel Garcia
Daniel D. GarciaSIGCSE-PBJA-2008-AM
PPT | PDF

Michelle Hutton Michelle Friend Hutton SIGCSE-PBJA-2008-AM
PPT | PDF

Eugene Lemon Eugene Lemon SIGCSE-PBJA-2008-AM
PPT | PDF

Josh Paley
Josh Paley SIGCSE-PBJA-2008-AM
PPT | PDF

SIGCSE '10

Abstract

Moderator
Daniel Garcia
Daniel D. GarciaSIGCSE-PBJA-2008-AM
PPT | PDF

Gail ChapmanGail Chapman SIGCSE-PBJA-2008-AM
PPT | PDF

Orit HazzanOrit Hazzan SIGCSE-PBJA-2008-AM
PPT | PDF

Maggie Johnson Maggie JohnsonSIGCSE-PBJA-2008-AM

Leigh Ann Sudol Leigh Ann Sudol SIGCSE-PBJA3-2010-LS PPT | PDF

SIGCSE '09

 

Abstract
SIGCSE-PBJA-2008

 

Moderator
Daniel Garcia
Daniel D. Garcia SIGCSE-PBJA-2008-AM PPT | PDF

Alison Young Alison Young SIGCSE-PBJA-2008-AM PPT | PDF

Zachary Dodds Zachary Dodds SIGCSE-PBJA-2008-AM
PPT | PDF

Eric Roberts Eric Roberts
SIGCSE-PBJA-2008-AM PPT | PDF

Robb Cutler Robb Cutler SIGCSE-PBJA-2008-AM
PPT | PDF

SIGCSE '08

Abstract
SIGCSE-PBJA-2008

 

Moderator
Andrew McGettrick
Andrew McGettrick SIGCSE-PBJA-2008-AM
PPT | PDF

Eric Roberts
Eric Roberts
SIGCSE-PBJA-2008-AM PPT | PDF

Daniel Garcia
Daniel D. Garcia
SIGCSE-PBJA-2008-AM
PPT | PDF

File attachments: 
AttachmentSize
PDF icon SIGCSE-PBJA-2013.pdf192.32 KB
PDF icon SIGCSE-PBJA-2014.pdf187.81 KB
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Passion, Beauty, Joy & Awe

About Passion, Beauty, Joy and Awe of Computing

 

 

 

Background

Last year, this special session took the existence of a serious enrollment crisis as its starting point. The steady decline in enrollments and the even more precipitous decline of secondary school students in the field leaves little doubt that companies, seeking as they are to hire ever increasing numbers of talented employees, will soon face a serious shortage of people with the necessary skills.

 

Over the past year, the situation has improved to some extent. Many universities—including the top research universities in the United States—are reporting enrollment increases. While the numbers are far short of their peak in 2000, this encouraging trend offers some hope that the worst of the crisis may be behind us.

 

At the same time, it is essential to avoid complacency. The truth is that universities were underproducing graduates in these fields even at the height of the Internet boom. Even if we were able to restore enrollments to that level, the computing industry will still be left with a shortfall. Given the importance of computing skills to any national economy, all countries have an incentive to produce more graduates with computing degrees. Countries that engage in centralized economic planning can accomplish this goal through explicit policy; countries that rely on individual choice within the context of the marketplace must be more subtle in their encouragement. Even so, it is essential for all constituencies— schools and universities, industry, and government—to work together toward this goal.

 

The primary reason for broadening this discussion beyond the traditional academic community is that the underlying causes of the decline in popularity of computing majors are by no means restricted to the university. Increasingly, students are turned off to computing long before they graduate from high school, often because they have come to think of computing as little more than word processing and spreadsheets, offering few opportunities for the excitement that has always attracted people to computing. At the same time, students are increasingly disenchanted with the perception they have of work in the field, which they see as isolating, disconnected, unchallenging, and overwhelming. In part, this perception is an image problem. In part, however, this perception reflects the reality of much work in the field. A large proportion of software engineering effort goes into maintenance of code that is often decades old or into projects that are canceled before completion. The phenomenon of summer interns returning to school with horror stories about their experience is certainly discouraging to others who might follow in their footsteps.

 

In each of these environments—secondary schools, universities, and companies—it is important to make it clear that computing offers intrinsic excitement that is difficult to match in other disciplines. That excitement, however, comes primarily from the intellectual challenge of solving problems and the engineering challenge of building things that work. To the extent that our discipline becomes associated with applications at the secondary school level, the minute details of some programming language at the university level, or the task of maintaining long outdated code in the workplace, that sense of excitement will be harder to achieve. Only by working together can we address the broader dimensions of this interconnected problem.

 

To this end, the panelists the Education Board proposes to include in this year’s special session include people who can speak from the perspective of each of these constituencies. The inclusion of participants whose work has focused primarily on K-12 education and on work in the industry will ensure that we are not merely talking with each other but instead working to build the bridges necessary to attack this problem in an integrated way.

Audience & Expectations

The intended audience for the special session is the broad community of computing educators. After all, almost all of us have been affected in some way by declining student enthusiasm. These issues are of particular importance to high-school teachers who face many of the same problems, usually with fewer resources to address them. By engaging in broad dialogue, we hope that we can identify a set of constructive initiatives for the ACM to undertake.

 
 

Directory of Instructors

Daniel D. Garcia
Daniel D. Garcia
University of California, Berkeley
ddgarcia@cs
+ 1 (510) 517-4041

Andrew McGettrickAndrew McGettrick
University of Strathclyde, Glasgow
andrew.mcgettrick@cis
+44 (141) 548 3589

Eric Roberts
Eric Roberts
Stanford University
eroberts@cs
+ 1 (650) 723-3642

Chris StephensonChris Stephenson Executive Director of
Computer Science Teachers Association
cstephenson@csta
+1 (800) 401-1799

Gail ChapmanGail Chapman Computer Science Teachers Association
gail.chapman@csta
+1 (212) 626-0507

Orit HazzanOrit Hazzan Israel Institute of Technology
oritha@techunix
+9724 8293-107

Maggie JohnsonMaggie Johnson Google
Stanford University
maggiej@google
+ 1 (650) 253-7707

Leigh Ann SudolLeigh Ann Sudoln Carnegie Mellon University
leighannsudol@gmail
+1 (914) 806-4211

Robb CutlerRobb Cutler Computer Science Teachers Association
robb@nne
+1 (408) 588-1544

Zachary DoddsZachary Dodds Harvey Mudd College
dodds@cs
+1 (909) 621-8225

Alison YoungAlison Young UNITEC
ayoung@unitec
+64 9 8154321 x6040

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