Archive for March 1, 2019

Thanks. For all the fish, and everything else.

This morning, I’m giving the keynote at the SIGCSE Symposium after receiving the 2019 SIGCSE Award for Outstanding Contribution to Computer Science Education.

SIGCSE_2019_Agenda_by_WhovaThis award is so important to me. It comes from the SIGCSE Community, which I’ve been part of since 1995.  It’s an award that’s woven into our community.  I’ve been fortunate to win other awards, but those are over there.  They come from and are awarded someplace outside of the mainstream. Every year, the Outstanding Contributor gets in front of the SIGCSE Community and has his or her say.  It’s here, among all of us. I can’t tell you how many of those speeches I’ve attended.  Of course, I’ve wondered, “What if I was up there? What would I say to this community?” This year, I get my chance.

Sometimes, the award winner thanks the people who got them there.  I feel that same urge. I am so very grateful to all my collaborators over the years, without whom, I would not have done the work that got me to this award. But the audience isn’t so keen on hearing the Thank You’s. I want to use this opportunity to say something to the community — about how important they are, about our history, and about what we need to do next.

In the last few weeks, I’ve been interviewed twice where I got the chance to acknowledge some of my collaborators, influences, and mentors — in Marc Lesser’s podcast and in the recent SIGCSE bulletin. I’m grateful to have had those opportunities so that I could tell my stories and give thanks.  I’m so glad that Marc asked me how I got here. I have had the advantage of significant preparatory privilege.  My parents sent me to a private, parochial high school in 1976 that had two computer science teachers and classes in both Basic and Fortran. I had a microcomputer store open up a block from my house, where I was hired as an assistant in 1979.  By the time I got to Wayne State University, I had programmed in several high level languages and four assembler languages (6502, 6800, 8080, and Z-80). I started teaching computer science in 1980. I’m lucky — I had great parents and amazing opportunities.

In this blog post, let me just say three more BIG THANK YOU’s.

First, my wonderful students.  Everyone knows that work by a professor is work done by the graduate students, with a bit of the professor’s direction.  My PhD students have inspired me, taught me, and done the most important research in my career: Noel Rappin, Colleen Kehoe, Jochen Rick, Brian Landry, Allison Elliott Tew, Brian Dorn, Lijun Ni, Mike Hewner, Briana Morrison, Miranda Parker, Amber Solomon, Katie Cunningham, and Bahare Naimipour. Then there are all the PhD students whom I didn’t directly advise, but who collaborated with me on some terrific work: Jennifer Turns, Andrea Forte, Lana Yarosh, Lauren Margulieux, and many others. I am grateful to all of them for all the papers on this list and the many times they’re mentioned in the 10 years of this blog.

Second, my mentors.  At the start of Learner-Centered Design of Computing Education Researchthere is this dedication page.

mentors

That’s Elliot Soloway (my advisor and longest-time mentor), Janet Kolodner (who taught me how to be a learning scientist), Jim Foley (who continues to be my model for academic leadership, and who gave the green light to MediaComp), Peter Freeman (the Dean who hired me at Georgia Tech), Rich LeBlanc (who introduced me to SIGCSE), John Stasko (who has been my big brother in academia for over 25 years), and Alan Kay (who inspired me to get my PhD and has been my mentor for literally decades). “All my mentors” include people like Bob Kozma who convinced me to do this joint PhD thing, Joe Krajcik who taught me science education research, Kurt Eiselt who convinced Jim to green light MediaComp, Rick Adrion who explained US education public policy to me, and Carl Berger who continues to inspire me with his curiosity about everything. I am grateful for their guidance and support, and to many of them, for taking a chance on me.

Third, but most important, is Dr. Barbara Ericson.  Barbara and I were married in 1985 in July, and started our MS in CSE at the University of Michigan in September. We have supported each other through two PhD’s, umpteen papers, the only joint ACM Karlstrom award, some significant NSF grants — and three children, two homes, multiple jobs, and 30+ years of marriage.  Barb is my most important collaborator, critic, proponent, and dearest friend. I really can’t express the depth of my gratitude to and love for Barb.

 

 

March 1, 2019 at 8:00 am 3 comments


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