by Ramanee Peiris
A very warm end of June in the beautiful city of Bologna was the setting for the ACM-SIGCSE ITiCSE 2006 conference. Over 200 delegates enjoyed the food, wine and a range of presentations covering Computer Science Education, under the heading Freedom in Teaching Computer Science.
These included new slants on old topics, such as design patterns first and puzzles-first. There were also ideas to engage school pupils by having an after-school Java programming club for 12-13 year olds. Their projects developed the popular idea of having leaners read and develop someone else's code. The school pupils went away with their own game running on their mobile phones.
Six working groups studied subjects in more detail including whether the objects-first debate is grounded in research, whilst posters covered subjects from story telling to various aspects of whether gender is or isn’t a factor in CS Education.
Panel discussions included the "Programming Languages" course, and six views on its content. Should one teach students from a historical perspective, study one language in detail, or provide a taster of several?
There were two keynote presentations, Roberto Di Cosmo spoke on "Educating the e-Citizen", where he felt that free software is the key, and warned us to never stop questioning the technology. Alison Young & Logan Muller gave a thought provoking presentation on their project in Peru, and they challenged Computer Science not to follow the footsteps of Nuclear Science - we need to question our priorities and build on the knowledge of other communities.
Full papers will appear in the next issue of the SIGCSE Bulletin; working group reports will follow in a later edition. All contributions are available from the ACM Digital Library.
Thanks to the organisers - Renzo Davoli, Michael Goldweber and Paola Salomoni. Next year, why not join us in Dundee?
Ramanee is a Lecturer in the School of Computing at the University of Dundee, Scotland.