TCEA 2009 Day One

So I arrived in Austin Monday evening and settled down at my hotel. I’m a short walk from the convention center which I’m pretty pleased about. Today was a sort of pre-conference day for me. That is to say that I didn’t have much assigned work to do. I have already connected with a bunch of people though. I had dinner with friends from Dallas area schools tonight. Earlier this afternoon I spent some time at the “Bloggers Garage.”  This is an open area with tables, comfortable chairs and power outlets where a lot of people who use blog and/or Twitter will be hanging around. I was able to meet several people who I have only known from Twitter face to face. And I was able to talk to some people like David Jakes (too briefly) and Miguel Guhlin (a huge FOSS in education advocate who is still a nice guy). And yes more people who I really should shout out to but I’m tired. Sorry people.

I did spend a good part of the day working on the talk I will be giving tomorrow to the TA/CS SIG. I’ve been working on the talk for a while of course. But somehow I am never satisfied.

I managed to tweak the PowerPoint deck a good bit and finally I have it in reasonable shape. I think. The other thing I spent time on was some demos that I want to do. I’m going to demo Kodu for one thing. Kodu is not quite ready for release but its getting close. It will be available on Xbox marketplace this spring. But honestly I am excited to show it to teachers to see if they see the same potential in it that I do. For me it looks like a very exciting way to introduce some basic programming/computing concepts to young students in a fun way.

I’m going to show a sort of “hello world” on top of an existing sample program. The second line in the program below tells the program to say “Hola! TCEA!” every 20 seconds. In the mean time the robot will be wandering around picking up apples.


I think the icons and amazing graphics will appeal to a lot of young students. And the novelty of using an Xbox 360 controller as the control device is going to spark some interest.

I’m also going to show off Small Basic. One of the demo programs that I plan to show is a Tetris game someone wrote. The idea here is that not only is Small Basic simple and easy to use but that it is also powerful and flexible  enough to do something as advanced as Tetris.SBTetris

But I’ll also be talking about the general need to use computer science and computer software to help students learn about other subjects. Computer science should be more integrated into the broader curriculum. I see this as much the same way that math, reading and writing become tools for learning and not just subjects to learn for their own sake. We’ll see how it goes.

If you are in the TA/CS SIG at TCEA I hope you’ll come by the SIG meeting and hear my talk. And if not come find me. Or Twitter me at, email me at alfredth (at) or call my cell at 603-819-1877 I’d love to meet you.

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