I’m on my way home from TCEA which is probably the largest regional technology in education conference in the country. As usual it was great to see a lot of old friends and I had some great conversations. Texas is, in some ways, ahead of much of the country in computer science education. But even here budget cuts are taking a toll.And in all honesty these big tech conferences don’t have computer science as a main focus. There were only about 35 people at the Tech Apps and Computer Science special interest group meeting for example. Now not everyone comes to the SIG meeting which is actually unfortunate. Why? Because the SIG meeting is a great place to find out what politics are doing to education. The TA/CS SIG does have some activist members but could use more. I will say that TCEA does have more to offer for CS teachers than most regional ed tech events though. That’s why I attend.
I didn’t attend many sessions myself this time around. I was busy with some work activities – booth duty for example. And I did do some lightly attended talks about Small Basic. Our location for these talks was pretty much out of the way and without being in the official schedule, as most vendor talks are not, it made it hard to get a good crowd. Still I was able to have some good curriculum talks with people who are looking for something small, light weight, and easy to use for programming and Small Basic may meet their needs. Bryan Baker presented on XNA a number of times as well. Lots of interest in game development in programming courses and Baker is doing some great things with his students. Pat Philips presented a couple of times and did some workshops on web development. There is a free curriculum available at http://expression.microsoft.com/education that is well worth checking out. Scott Thompson also did some sessions and you can find out about them at TCEA Session Recap on his blog.
My friend Kathleen Weaver (blog at Teaching CS in Dallas) has been blogging about many of the computer science related sessions at TCEA. The woman is tireless. You can get an idea about what sort of talks were available from her recent posts. Stacey Armstrong blogged about the session on the future of the new Advanced Placement computer science course. Stacey is one of the people working on this important project. If you are interested in these developments visit TCEA Panel Summary – What is the Future of AP Computer Science? to read more and find some good links. The nice thing about this new AP CS course is that there is no mandated language. That’s going to give people more flexibility which I think is a great thing.
TCEA is a good conference and I’m happy that I could attend again. If you were there and I didn’t get a chance to talk to you I hope we’ll have another chance. Perhaps at this summer’s CS & IT Symposium in New York. If not, I hope to be back at TCEA again next year.