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Computer Science & Information Technology Symposium

There was something about this year's Computer Science and Information Technology Symposium that made it feel really special but I cannot seem to put my finger on exactly what that was.

We have been doing the Symposium now for six years. Each year a dedicated group of fabulous volunteers gets together, and with help from our project manager, spends a whole year putting together a full day of professional development specifically designed for K-12 computer science and information technology teachers in conjunction with a national educational technology conference and each year, the Programming Planning Committee strives to outdo the results of the previous year.

There were definitely some changes this year though. First, the committee decided to provide more opportunities to allow teachers to choose the sessions that would best meet their needs. The number of breakout sessions was increased from three to four and an extra session was added to each breakout timeslot so that teachers had more choices per breakout. We also added a new two-part hands-on sessions on programming in .Net and another on wikis. The other important thing about the sessions this year is that the increased number of slots allowed us to create a better balance between CS and IT offerings.

Because presentations at CSIT are invitation only, the quality tends to be high, but several people have told us that this year they were outstanding. Ellen Spertus (sexiest geek alive) started the day off with a thoughtful and engaging presentation on the future of computer science education. Kevin Schofield (VP of Microsoft Research) gave us a wide-ranging and inspiring look at how computing is changing the world in key areas such as AIDS research. Jane Margolis also talked about her latest research focusing on encouraging more young women and minority students to study computing.

Another great thing about this year's symposium is that this time we had a whole team from Microsoft in attendance, giving presentations, attending sessions, and just talking to teachers about what teachers and students want and need.

If you did not get a chance to be there, you can still benefit from the Symposium by downloading the presentations available on the CSIT2006 website. Just go to the agenda and click on the session title (there are still a few late submissions to be added).

The even better news is that you can start making your plans to attend next year! Microsoft has already generously agreed to sponsor us for another Computer Science and Information Technology Symposium next year in Atlanta in conjunction with NECC! We hope to see you there.

Chris Stephenson
Executive Director


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