The first part of this week was spent in Irvine CA for the 2012 CS & IT Conference. It’s amazing how this event just gets better and better every year. I only wish more computer science teachers could make it there. Being in California we had a lot of teachers from that state but not as many from the east coast. That's to be expected with the current economy and the fact that professional development funds from school districts seem to being cut back in many places. While unfortunate in any field it seems particularly worse for a field like computer science where new tools, programs and even things to teach are changing and growing at a steady rate. Be that as it may those of us who were there learned a lot and I am hopeful that many attendees will share things with teachers in their local area. I encourage people to look out their local CSTA chapter (or start one) and help create local professional development events.
The sessions this year were really well done but I expected that. I attended as many as I could. I attended some that were on technology that competes with Microsoft offerings. Some good stuff out there but I still feel like what Microsoft has is as good or better than most of the competition. In terms of Microsoft technology there were presentations on XNA and Kodu. There was a session on HTML 5 that was HTML 5 focused but which also talked about how well Expression Web works with it. The Expression Web curriculum has been updated for HTML 5 BTW.
The most fun for me was the Mobile App Throw down session though. We gathered three people to create a tip calculator app for phones live from scratch. We each had 15 minutes to do so. I did Windows Phone of course (see my application here) while others did iPhone and Android phone. Tough to do in 15 minutes but we all got through it and I think gave people a good understanding about the three platforms. I left feeling pretty good about how Visual Studio holds up against the other platforms. Particularly I like how the same development environment and programming languages are used for Phones and Windows and even Xbox 360. This makes it easy to add some projects on phone to an existing programming course. C# is close enough to Java that something like modules from the second semester game development curriculum which includes XNA and Kinect as well as Windows Phone game development can be added for after the AP exam. This feels like a real advantage to me.
I want to link to some other people who blogged about the conference as well.
Doug Peterson wrote about the open house and reception that the University of California Irvine Bren School hosted for CS & IT attendees at Field Trip to UCI Doug also created a Storify of Tweets from the CS & IT Conference that makes interesting reading.
All in all a great conference but not just for the sessions. The conversations between sessions, at meals, in the evening were all worth the trip in their own right. I expect the conference will be back in the east next year. I also expect it will be even better. So start saving your nickels and plan to attend next summer.