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.