Thursday, July 30, 2015

Musings on Blogging

Attending several conferences this summer I have talked to any number of people about this blog. Several people told me how much they appreciated the blog which made me feel very good. One person told me I blogged faster than they could read my posts. Another person asked why I was blogging less than I had been. Of course there is no one right rate of posting. I follow blogs with several new posts a day and others that post once a month (or less). And every thing in between. Bloggers post at a rate that works for them and that is great. I value all the blogs I follow.

Conversations also made me think about why I blog. Generally I blog because I feel like I have something to say. Sometimes that is an idea I am working through or a projected I am attempting. Writing them out helps me focus my thinking. And if I’m lucky there will be comments and those almost always help me refine my thinking. Sometimes these are ideas others can use – or at least I hope that is the case.

Other times I blog about things I am learning and events I am attending. I love learning about new tools, programming languages, projects, and other resources. There are so many good ideas from so many people at conferences, workshops and other events that I am lucky enough to attend. I feel like I have an obligation to report on them for those who are not there. It also helps me firm up the learning in my own mind.

My favorite posts are the ones that share ideas from other people though. After that, those that link to useful resources. My Monday Morning links posts are part of that goal. I love to link to interesting articles, new resources and especially other educator blogs. When I read interesting and helpful blog posts I feel like I have to share them.

According to the analytics I get something like two thirds of the traffic to this blog comes from search engines. That is typical for blogs BTW. By linking to good resources I am contributing to their getting more search engine love. In the short term a link from one blog to another may give a little boost in traffic right away. That’s great and everyone loves that. In the long run though each link creates more and more search engine based traffic. That makes those resources easier to find. I also hope that the blogs I link to get more subscribers and other regular readers. The community of computer science education bloggers is too small so those of use out there need to make sure we all get some attention.

Speaking of search engine traffic, my most read posts this year have been ones I wrote a while ago. Tops on that list is Programming With Blocks which I originally wrote in December of 2012 but have updated frequently. That is from search engine traffic. No one pages that deep into a blog. Apparently a lot of people are searching for that sort of information. I like to think I have a helpful resource there.

Lately Interview Questions for Computer Science Teachers, written back in March,  has been getting a lot of search engine traffic. I suspect more schools are hiring CS teachers these days. I hope that is what that traffic means.

My goal though is to be helpful. If that happens some of the time I’m a happy blogger. Thank you to the people who have told me they found something helpful, useful or interesting in my blog. It’s what keeps me going.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Putting Student Programmers To Work

I love CS Teaching Tips. I follow them on Twitter and Facebook as well as visiting the web site from time to time. Full list of links at the bottom of this post. Anyway, not long ago they retweeted someone’s suggestion of having students write a program to randomly pick students to call on. And that go me thinking.

I wrote my own program to randomly select students to call on some time ago. I really like it. It saves who has been called on from use to use and supports multiple classes. It even looks pretty good for an Alfred designed program. But the more I thought about it the more I thought that having students write their own versions would make a good project. Actually perhaps even two projects.

The first one, perhaps early in the semester, could have the names hard coded in to an array. That would be a nice fairly simple array program. A later version could read the names in from a file and perhaps dynamically build a list of objects for the display.  Either way we could have an interesting discussion about features and functions and how they  could be developed. It would be a program that should have some relevance for students.

We could also modify it to create randomly selected teams. (An other feature my program has though it could use some improvements) That is a program students could use for their own team selections.

There are probably other programs that teachers could use that would also make interesting projects. I’m thinking a timer app might be useful and interesting. Maybe a Binary timer if I am feeling particularly evil. Smile What other sorts of teacher useful programs would make good projects?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Programmers Have No Ideas?

I read blogs by smart interesting people so I can be exposed to new or different ideas. Eugene Wallingford is one of those smart interesting people. He recently blogged THE FLIP SIDE TO "PROGRAMMING FOR ALL"" In the post he quotes from Chris Crawford who says in his essay, Fundamentals of Interactivity: “cruel joke that Fate has played upon the industry: programmers have no ideas and idea people can't program.”

Crawford claims that programmers do not live in a world of ideas and that they have a limited view of the world. Clearly I know a different class of programmers. Most of my friends in the field read books beyond science fiction (though in general I think that science fiction is something a lot more people should read to expand their thinking). They are creative in many ways beyond code. In their spare time, they are farmers, wood workers, inventive with electronics, sports fans, art and music fans and knowledgeable in politics and philosophy. Many programmers I know are serious musicians and perform in public as well as privately.

That being said I do find that a lot of my students, who are young remember, would benefit from a wider exposure to creative efforts. And to a wider variety of people.

We do need more “idea people” to learn to code and we need to encourage people who know how to code to be more creative but I think saying programmers have no ideas is a bit harsh, a bit unfair and more than a bit false.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Interesting Links 27 July 2015

The early part of this last week was in Charleston SC for a great mini conference. I blogged about it earlier in the week. The rest of the week was catching up around the house since I’ve spent so much time away the last couple of weeks. So only a few links to share. Don’t miss the image at the bottom.

A lot of people were excited about the College Board calling AP CS the “AP Subject of the year”. Mike Zamansky had a different take on it on his blog - Teaching to the test - APCS
"Will Teaching New Computer Science Principles Level the Playing Field?" What do you think? I’m a bit skeptical.
Very cool games for learning from David Renton  @drenton72 at Some with xBox controllers and some with Kinect for Windows
It's here! Visual Studio 2015 & .NET 4.6 Available for Download. I installed the free community edition. Looks good so far.
I love this sign. Would your Principal but it on their door?

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Charleston Teach Meet Day Two

Today was the second day of a creative mini conference of educators. You can read about Charleston Teach Meet Day One here. We started off today a little differently. Doug Bergman showed off one of the Kinect games that one of his students created. We talked about about the cross curricular learning that such a project required. The student consulted with friends who had better math skills to work out a lot of what he needed to know to create a flight similar that was controlled by body movement.

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Next up was David Renton (visit his site of Games 4 learning) who showed us some of the educational games he created for use with elementary and middle school students. He has some interesting quiz style games for use with wireless Xbox controllers. Teachers can easily create their own questions. I may try this with my freshmen this year.

He also showed us one of his Kinect based games. This one was about angles. The program asked students to indicate an angle with their left arm and signal when they think they have it. The software measures how close they are to correct and awards points (it’s a two player game). David’s two children demonstrated the game and they are GOOD at it. I can really see how it would help students visualize what angles look like a lot better than drawing them on paper with a compass.

We were joined for a while by Lou Zulli from Florida. Lou couldn’t make it in person but we had a lively conversation as he talked about his internationally recognized work and ideas.

Julie Sessions showed off OSMO which I hadn’t seen before. OSMO is a set of educational games for use with the iPad. Looks like fun for younger kids.

The afternoon was spent in a wide ranging conversation and brainstorming session that explored many ideas we all had about innovation in teaching. It was great but moved fast for me. I’m hoping one of the other attendees will blog about that. Smile 

Overall I have had two wonderful days of idea sharing, conversation and real revitalization of my attitude for returning to school in the fall. I’ve got a lot of things to try for improving my practice. What more could a teacher want?

BTW the fun image below of me and Bob Irving (from Porter-Gaud) is courtesy of David Renton and one of his Kinect programs.

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Charleston Teach Meet Day One

This week I am in Charleston SC at Porter-Gaud School meeting with about a dozen teachers from around the US and two teachers from Scotland. It’s a bit unusual in several ways. First the small size of the group. Secondly the diversity of the attendees. We have teachers teaching a variety of subjects and age groups. Some people work at the school wide or district wide level. Some are private school educators and some are at public schools. About half of the attendees have been involved in Microsoft’s Innovative Educators program and have been recognized for their excellence and innovation in teaching. A couple of us have been judges for the MIE Forums in the US.

Another big difference is that we spent the whole first day on introductions. Now most other meetings like this would have each person giving one or two minutes of introduction and then move on to some formal program. Today we had in-depth introductions. We talked about who we are and how we teach. We talked about our methods, our philosophies, and how what we do works in our particular environments. These were interactive introductions with questions and answers and conversation what went in interesting directions. It was fascinating!

We talked a good bit about using technology in teaching (something we all do) but we also talked about grading and assessment. Everyone agrees we need to know what students are learning. As one person put it “you haven’t taught it until they have learned it.” But grades? Well grades are no fun for anyone. This will be a big topic for discussion tomorrow.

The idea behind this conference (sort of an unconference but less formal) is that when you get good teachers together to learn from each other good things happen. Seems to be working.


In this picture: Jamie Ewing (elementary school art teacher) @mrewingteach  David Renton (Lecturer in Games Development at West College Scotland) @drenton72 Marie Renton (Depute Head Teacher Lochfield Primary, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland) @Goldilocks1972 Doug Bergman (computer science teacher, Porter-Gaud School)  @dougbergmanUSA

Interesting Links 20 July 2015

If this is Monday it must be Charleston. Seriously though I am in Charleston SC for a two day mini conference with a small group of great educators. More on that when I get home in a few days. Last week was the CSTA Conference followed by the CSTA Board meeting. Lots of good stuff. With a lot of in person conversations I wasn’t online as much as usual but I still have a few good links to share.

No Room For Lone Wolves: via Doug Peterson  @dougpete Lessons for teachers of CS from pro developers as shared at the closing keynote from the CSTA Conference. The video of that keynote and many other sessions will be available soon.

CSTA's New Assessment Landscape Study was released during the conference. Take a look. 

Free PD for teachers who want to teach Computer Science Principles  from @Harvard and professor @davidjmalan A few more openings so if you are in the area around Boston look into it. I’m taking it.

Bob Irving blogged about attending CSTA and included links about his Minecraft presentation.

Top Ten Myths about Teaching Computer Science Int3resting post on the blog@CACM | Communications of the ACM by Mark Guzdial. What do you think? Myths or true?

Some great news to kickstart the week: ScratchJr is now officially available for Android 4.2+ in @GooglePlay!

Raspberry Pi? Why Yes, I’ll Have Pi Cluster - Reed's Ruminations: A Blog by Dan Reed – imagine a super computer made up of very small, very inexpensive computers.

BTW Start thinking now about next year’s CSTA Annual Conference.

CSTA Save the day

Friday, July 17, 2015

CSTA Annual Conference 2015–Looking Back

The 2015 Annual CSTA Conference is in the books now. Over 350 people attended in Grapevine TX for 14 three-hour workshops and 24 concurrent sessions. There was also a tour and reception of the University of Texas Dallas, a sponsored happy hour and other opportunities for informal networking.

I had the chance to sit in on two of the workshops. The first was by Mark Guzdial and Barbara Erikson from Georgia Tech on their Media Computation course. They do a lot of cool things with manipulation of images and sound. They use Python which looks pretty interesting. On the other hand the libraries they use for images look like they would be easily duplicated in C# or Visual Basic and so usable with either or both of those languages. I may give writing them a try. Not sure about the sound stuff yet.

I also sat in on Problem Based Learning in Computer Science: A Case Study in Robotics Camp presented by Joshua Block. WP_20150713_003My big takeaway there was an interesting exercise in problem solving and planning involving making a tower out of playing cards.

It may be a replacement for the marshmallow challenge which I have used in the past. I’ll have to see about a cheap source of playing cards first.

My favorite of the concurrent sessions is probably Out of Your Seat Comp Sci: Coding Using the Kinect presented by Doug Bergman. Doug has a project based course for his advanced students that has them all making projects that use a Kinect. Apparently used version 1 Kinects can be found on the Internet now that the version 2 is out. Doug showed us some of his student projects and some of the code behind them. They sure do have to do a lot of design work and thinking to create these projects. Most of them have to use – gasp – math.

I also attended sessions on Minecraft and Pencil Code. Minecraft looks interesting but I’ll see how interested students at my school are before trying to include it in the curriculum.

Pencil Code has some nice ideas and lets users switch back and forth between block and text based programming. But mostly it seems like another version of Scratch (like Blockly, App Inventor, and Snap!) and I’m just not feeling the excitement in these any more. I’m going to stick with TouchDevelopment for now.

There were also keynotes and an industry panel of course. The closing keynote was from a game company and I think it had a lot of value for people who haven’t talked to game developers before. Lots of talk about the need for soft skills (communication and teamwork), problem solving ability and a reminder that professionals are always learning new things. I’ll share the video when it is available with my students who need to hear this stuff.

As is so often the case conversations were key to my enjoyment and learning. I’ve already blogged some about my conversations around the BBC Micro:bit. I had some conversations about projects, pedagogy, other tools (the exhibit hall was well worth the time here) and just catching up with friends from around the country. And a few people from outside the country.

Overall a great conference. If you missed it you really did miss something good.

And now we look forward to 2016 in San Diego, California. There will be a request for proposals in the fall. Start thinking about what you would like to present next year.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

BBC Micro:bit Revisited

At the CSTA Conference I had a long chat with Peli de Halleux from the TouchDevelop team about the BBC Micro:bit. Peli has been active in TouchDevelop and the BBC micro:bit. He was wearing one and also gave me a demo of how TouchDevelop works with the device.

You have to think of the Micro:bit as an embedded device that is programmed from a larger device. That adds a bit of complexity to the installation but really no more than you find in a mobile phone app. Peli is quite excited about the project as you would expect from someone who has been hard at work on it for some time. The plan to give a million of these devices out to students is not without controversy (mentioned in an earlier post – Is the BBC’s ‘Micro Bot’ the Silver Bullet ) It’s hard not to get enthusiastic after talking to Peli though.
It’s a pretty open question of how this will work in the classroom or out of the classroom for that matter. There are several code editors for developing for the device and it looks like various curriculum is being developed. And the UK has a large community of computer educators that are part of Computing At School (CAS) that is doing a lot of professional development in other areas of CS already. It’s logical to assume that some early adopters will be doing training of other teachers over time.
Defining success is also a tricky question. What does success mean? Arguably anyone can define their own measure and judge the result by that metric. If they give out 1,000,000 devices how many students have to get hooked on CS because of it to be a success?
The people who put in the money will have their own metrics for success. I don’t know what they are and chances are good they will declare success  based on some numbers that look good regardless of outcomes. Others will view success through their own goals and filters.
As for me, I want one. If not for school then for my own projects. I have a couple of ideas of fun things to do.

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Monday, July 13, 2015

What is real programming?

I’m tempted to just leave the question there, get some popcorn and watch sparks fly. A lot of discussion on more or less that topic in the comments on a blog post Mark Guzdial wrote recently Do blocks equal “making” and text equal “coding”? Doing MediaComp in Blocks-Based Languages

Is HTML programming? Probably most of us agree it is not. But building a web page today is so much more than it used to me. Is HTML 5 programming? Maybe so. Is block programming “real” programming or do you have to be using a text based language? Ozobots can be programmed by drawing different colors on lines that the robot senses. Is that real programming? Does it matter if you use an IDE or is it less real unless you are using a text editor and a command line? As n aside every time someone suggests a command line for code I want to suggest that card readers are both more real and better. After all I can still read my cards from my college programs while the code on my DECtape is probably lost for ever even though it was entered in the command line.

At some point the question of what is real programming just becomes silly to me. If the tool you are using to give commands to the computer work and gets the right results isn’t that programming? Does it matter if it is a block, a line of text or a color on a piece of paper? Why get wrapped up in some sort of my way is more way then your way discussion? What is the point?

For teaching a first course the focus should be on the concepts and not the tools. It’s a real loop in Alice or TouchDevelop or Python or Java or what ever. If you want to define real computer science for a university student I suggest CS 2013 as your reference and good luck fitting that into your high school curriculum!

Interesting Links 13 July 2015

Usually I write these up on Sunday so it will be ready first thing in the morning on Monday. This week I am at the annual CSTA Conference and I was in networking events and a great workshop by Mark Guzdial and Barbara Ericson followed by some great discussions until it was past time to go to bed. So I put this together in the lobby of the conference hotel between more conversations. If you teach K-12 computer science and are not here I hope you’ll try and make the one next year. If you are here please make sure to find me and say hello.

The University of San Francisco is running a free computing workshop for middle & high school girls in the bay area.: Coding for middle-school & high-school girls (Aug 10-14) Sign up at .GirlTechPower

Office Mixes to introduce coding games in Kodu and TouchDevelop Some cool projects to get started with here.

Do blocks equal "making" and text equal "coding"? Doing MediaComp in Blocks-Based Languages by Mark @guzdial

Computer Science Education Blog Roll  updated with @moixland Daniel Moix's blog

New Self-Paced Computational Thinking Course for Educators from Google

A complete list of Microsoft SDKs for developers : I’ve been looking at the list to get ideas for interesting projects both for class and for myself.

Finishing up with a thought for the week.

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Friday, July 10, 2015

You Don’t Know What You Are Teaching Your Students

From time to time teachers need a reminder of what they are teaching. Oh not just “we teach students not subjects.” That is certainly true but what is also true is that we teach students more than just subject. What they learn from us is more than what is in the curriculum. This hit home today after an exchange with a former student online.
Back some years ago I was a chaperone on a school field trip. We took a large group of students the the FIRST Robotics championship held, that year, at EPCOT Center in Florida. We were on multiple fights and my group missed a connection and were stuck the night in Atlanta. Me and four (or five?) high school boys. I spent a lot of time on my cell phone talking to parents, hotels, the airline and who ever else. It worked out ok  and we all got home safe and sound the next day. And that was it I thought. Today though one of the boys (now a grown man who travels on business a lot) added a comment to my memory of that trip.
I think the most important thing you ever taught me was how to behave when air travel goes wrong. It's come in handy several hundred times since then.
That is not something I thought about teaching. It sure wasn’t in my syllabus or my job description. I was only thinking about how to take care of my charges. But students notice how we act, what we say, how we treat people and how we handle what life throws at us. I'm glad that I handled things, for the most part at least, pretty well and that what I taught, unintentionally, was apparently good and useful. His comment made my day. Maybe my week.
We aren’t always aware of what students remember from their time with us. So it is important that as the adults in a young person’s life we try to act well at all times. Students learn from what we do as much, if not more, than from what we say,.I’m glad for the reminder.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Unconscious Biases in Schools

Saw this in my inbox and thought it worth sharing with others who don’t always read there CSTA email or who teach other subjects.

Google is looking for educators' insights on the role of unconscious biases in schools. They've developed a 15-minute survey to learn about educators’ perceptions and awareness about unconscious bias in schools; and access to resources to overcome it.

Share your feedback by Friday, July 17, 2015. The survey is confidential--your responses will not be attributed to you and the data will only be used in aggregate form. Questions can be directed at:

Link to survey here:

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

It’s Worth A Try–Or Is It?

Is the BBC’s ‘Micro Bot’ the Silver Bullet). With a new set of announcements today the discussion has started again.There were a rash of comments on it in the CS education forum on Facebook. I confess I am excited by shiny new toys and this one is shiny and new. But beyond that we don’t know that this will work. We don’t know that it will bring more students into computer science.

One of the early comments was “It's worth a try.” But is it? Mark Guzdial replied to that statement with “I don't think it is. It's a very expensive PR stunt that we *don't* know will work. There are lots of things that we know *will* work that are *less* expensive than sending everyone a tiny computer.”

I think it is pretty clear that this is largely a public relations stunt. It’s a one year one shot program with no plan for what will follow for that one cohort of students. And what about the next year’s cohort? Will they be the “beneficiaries” of some new idea on a totally different topic? No one really knows.

I can understand the frustration of people who have been hard at work for years on expanding participation in computing and know, via solid research, some ideas that demonstrably work.  If the money that is going to this PR effort when into proven programs wouldn’t that be even more “worth a try?”

I also understand the excitement of the people involved in the BBC effort. I know some of the people involved in the TouchDevelop interface for example and they are very excited and optimistic. But they are researchers and one probably can’t be a good researcher without some serious optimism about your projects.

Is this going to be “worth it?” I guess that depends on how you define worth. It’s getting the BBC a lot of attention and generally a lot of good will. So that means it is probably worth a try for them. For students and broadening participation in computing? Well the jury is still out but I’m not betting on success.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Interesting Links 6 July 2015

Last week was ISTE. I’m still sorting through all the information I received. And just one week until the CSTA Conference. Very excited for that one. Hope to see many of you there. And now a few links I managed to collect to share.

The fastest growing AP exam in the past 5 years: Computer Science!  Yea us! On the other hand as one friend pointed out is AP CS really the metric we want to count as our main success factor?

Science Fiction Reading for Computer Scientists: Summer 2015 from the blog@CACM via Communications of the ACM I’ve read several of these. Interesting picks. What would you add/remove?

New Minecraft in education website – I still don’t “get” Minecraft. Someone help me out.

The Ethics of Cyberwar another great discussion piece from the blog@CACM via Communications of the ACM

Kinect helps detect PTSD in combat soldiers :  A little bit of artificial intelligence stuff going on.

Why Many Computer Science Programs Are Stagnating My reply:

A flawed article in several ways. One way is that it quotes the 2001 and 2008 ACM/IEEE recommendations without mentioning the changes made in the 2013 report. For example the 2013 recommendations explicitly add a lot of recommendations on security. The ACM/IEEE committees should have more industry members (the 2013 had several including me) but often industry is not that interested in helping. The post also ignores the fact that a great many universities have industry advisory boards (I have served on several myself) and pay quite a bit of attention to them. That being said I do think there should be more cooperation between university and industry.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Final Thoughts on #ISTE2015

I thought I was done writing about ISTE but Doug Peterson’s post (Stop It Already - which you really should read including the comments from others) got me thinking a bit more. As Doug pointes out at common thing to hear at ISTE is “it’s about the pedagogy and not the technology”. One is tempted to reply “Well, duh!” But of course in other settings we often do hear people call technology “the answer.”

I think there is a lot of "preaching to the choir" at ISTE and similar conferences. It's all too easy. The  people at the conference generally do know that it is pedagogy first and technology second (or third). But I guess some people feel smarter hearing what they believe from people who have been "anointed" in some way. Others feel better hearing their ideas applauded even though they have to know at some level that they are reinforcing ideas rather than converting people. Maybe it is about reassurance for some.

One of the interesting things I heard someone say was "haven't attended a single session. Best ISTE ever." Now that can mean a number of things. I attended a few sessions and some were good and some were better suited to beginners. I’m sure other people had a different experience with sessions.

What I really got the most out of were a) conversations with other teachers and b) ideas for tools that will help me do things differently (and I hope better) in my classroom. I found vendors who have great technology but who really don't know how it can be used to teach better. Most of them are actively soliciting ideas both about how their products can be used and how they can be improved to help teachers. Even the vendors, well the ones I talked to, understand that pedagogy has to come first and that the technology is not a "magic bullet."

I attend ISTE to find tools that change how I teach. I’m not looking for a better projector (though I am glad if one comes my way) or a different computer (Chromebooks seemed to be all the rage but I don’t see them as useful at all for me,.) I want things that will make my class more interesting, more interactive and get students more involved in their own learning. One question I find myself asking a lot is “how do I (or anyone) know if this technology really will improve learning and the way I teach? I don’t know that we have a good answer to that question.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Thoughts on #ISTE2015 Wednesday–Exhibit Hall

There are all sorts of interesting people working the various exhibit hall booths at ISTE and other conference. There are as I see it several groups or types.

Sales/Marketing People

Some are all about closing the sale. Not necessarily for you to take something away and give them a check but they are all about convincing you to buy. They are not going to be easy to get away from. They are doing their job and are not bad people but you may get more marketing speak and less useful information than you will from some of the other people. Sometimes these people used to be in the classroom so don’t always write them off.


Companies look to bring real classroom teachers to work at their booths. Large companies are more likely to do this than small companies. You’ll find lots of  teachers at the Microsoft booth for example. These are my favorite people to talk to in the exhibit hall. They use the tools/products, they love the tools/products but best of all they can tell you how they work in a real classroom with real students. Find these people, talk to them, and get their contact information as they can be very helpful in the future.

Product People

Sometimes these are marketing people. in a role called “evangelist.” Sometimes they are actually developers of the product. You’ll see a lot of these people at smaller companies. These are the people who work on the product every day. They know it. The people who come to conferences from this group tend to be good listeners. They want to know how to make the product better for YOU. Also they often talk to a lot of people using their product and can share a lot of ideas. These are the people who can make the product better for you though so it is usually worth talking to them.


Not often in the booth. More likely than not someone else working in the booth will introduce you although in small companies the CEO may also be wearing the Product People hat and talking to everyone. For a big company these people will be in meetings a lot with people who make buying decisions. They’ll likely be wearing suits too.

What did I mess? Did I mischaracterize anyone? What is your exhibit hall experience like?

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Thoughts on #ISTE2015 Wednesday–Poster Sessions

I spent a lot of time in playgrounds and poster sessions. There is really not a lot of difference between a poster session and a playground session. The big difference is that a playground has a lot of posters on the same theme. Some of these are great and some are ok. I’ve come up with a few conclusions about how they should be done. My opinions and your mileage may vary as they say.

QR codes are great as far as they go.They are a great way to take people to more information and resources online.  I’ve been taking pictures of many of them. I’ll look at them when I get home. But honestly I would rather look at most resources on my real computer than my phone or even a tablet. I recommend two things with regards to QR codes. One is put them on cards that people can take away with them. The second, more important to me, is show the URL the QR code leads to for people like me.

People are taking their notes by taking pictures. Make your poster cell phone camera ready. In other words have some large print. If your poster shrunk to 8.5x11 is unreadable taking a picture and printing it or reading it online later may be a problem for some.

Have tangible things to people to see and touch. If you have student work you can show off bring it. Pictures of the dinosaur your student made is nice seeing the actual creation in person it better.

Many of the poster sessions had students along to talk about what they are learning and how. Wonderful experience for them and for the teachers they talk to. I’m a bit old fashioned but I thi8nk the international students in their uniforms looks classy. They looked sharp and serious about their education. But as long as they bring enthusiasm with them kids are always great.

I got a lot of ideas from these sessions. Well worth taking the time for at ISTE. I’ll leave you with a thought, a question, that I saw on one poster session. “What do you want your students to be ready for?” That’s something I will keep in mind as I work on next years plans.

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