I am attending Informatics Education Europe IV in Freiburg, Germany as an invited speaker, and as a blogger for BLOG@CACM. The Proceedings define "informatics" as what ACM/IEEE commputing curricula call "computing." The conference was opened by Thomas Ottmann, who with Andrew McGettrick, chaired the event.
I gave the opening talk, Meeting Everyone's Need for Computing where I argued for developing education to meet the needs of the programmers who are not our majors and do not want to become software engineers, which estimates suggest are four times larger than all the professional software developers. I've blogged about that talk and its response in my ComputingEd blog.
The first set of speakers addressed issues in teaching programming.
The second set of papers dealt with advanced programming and computer architecture. The papers presented some pretty intriging ideas. Juha-Matti Vanhatupa and Teemu Heinimaki of Tempere University presented their work on making Lua control an AI game engine to support easier game development. Axel Bottcher of Munich Unviersity talked about the visualization that they've built for the MMIX Simulator. They've had some amazing success and pervasiveness with it, e.g., the compilers class now builds backends for the simulator, so that the tool can cross course boundaries. Besim Mustafa of Edge Hill University showed a pipeline simulator and visualizer that is resulting in some interesting results for improving students' understandings. He's got some positive results, but also some mixed results that have him looking at improving the assessment instruments.
The final set of papers talked about international cooperations. Many of these schools are working to create connections across international boundaries. Rainer Herpers presented some of the challenges, like funding, figuring out course equivalencies between schools in different countries, and convincing students to leave their countries to work on the collaborators' campuses. Other presenters talked about using these collaborations to improve learning in software engineering (with over a dozen authors from 8 universities) and robotics (Spanish, Italian, and German universities). The idea is that these collaborations offer "intensive" experiences that help students develop skills appropriate for a global marketplace.
The first day was great. The audience is getting engaged and asking hard questions.
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