About Dave Reed

David Reed is the Director of Computer Science and Informatics at Creighton University in Omaha, NE. He has been involved in K-12 CS education for more than 20 years, serving as Chief Reader of AP Computer Science from 2004-2008 and on the CSTA Board of Directors since 2009. He was a member of the ACM/IEEE Computer Science Curricula 2013 Task Force and is the author of an introductory computer science text, A
Balanced Introduction to Computer Science, which has been used in colleges and high schools.

More than just rock stars

A few years ago, I talked with a recruiter from a large, Silicon Valley tech company.  His message was they were looking for “rock stars” to hire, and I should encourage my “rock star” graduates to apply there.  The “rock star” message was repeated numerous times, and I confess that I found it a little disconcerting.  For one thing, it didn’t seem a very inclusive mindset (and this company, like many in Silicon Valley, was sorely lacking in diversity).  But, having taught all my life at smaller colleges, it also made me think about my students – some of whom were amazing and some of whom were bright, hard-working, and self-motivated, but would no doubt fall short of Silicon Valley “rock stardom.”  Many of those students have gone on to challenging and fulfilling careers that make a difference in the world.

To extend the “rock star” metaphor, you need a lot more than a rock star to put on a show. You need backup singers, musicians, stage directors, lighting technicians, caterers, roadies, and so on.  Similarly, there are all kinds of careers in computing that are essential to society, challenging to creative minds, lucrative, and in high demand.  They don’t all require the same skill sets or lifestyles.  As I work with students, I constantly remind myself that there are many such paths.  A student who struggles with object-oriented programming or math concepts may not turn out to be an all-purpose “rock star” in the Silicon Valley mold, but I can still encourage them to follow their interests in computing.  My job as a teacher is to help my students develop those interests and skills so that they can contribute to the show, in whatever role is right for them.  I’m good with that.

Dave Reed
College Faculty Rep
CSA Board of Directors

Report on the CSTA Annual Conference

This past July 14-15, 326 attendees converged on St. Charles, Illinois, for the 2014 CSTA Annual Conference. This number continues the impressive growth of the conference, representing a roughly 20% increase from 2013. On Monday, 12 professional development workshops were offered, six in the morning and six in the afternoon, with a total attendance of 386. Tuesday was filled with 24 presentations across a variety of topics, including a new feature this year: 20-minute mini-sessions that focused on innovative classroom practices. Keynote addresses by Yasmin Kafai and Michael Kolling were thought provoking and inspiring.

Putting together the conference is the joint effort of a large community. The program committee (Dave Reed, Doug Peterson, Duncan Buell, Tammy Pirmann, Philip East, Patrice Gans, Kristen Fisher, Dan Wheadon, and Chris Stevenson) has the challenging task of selecting the agenda for the conference, with the help of a large corps of reviewers. Lissa Clayborn and Tiffany Nash organized and ran the event logistics, and onsite volunteers, led by the Chicago and Chicago Suburbs CSTA chapters, kept everything running smoothly.

If you were able to join us in St. Charles, we hope you had an outstanding experience. If not, you can still take advantage of much of the professional development. Many of the speakers’ slides are already posted on the CSTA Web site and more will be posted soon. In addition, many of the sessions were videotaped, including the keynotes, and these will also be going up on the CSTA site in early September. If you are looking for an activity for an upcoming CSTA chapter meeting, showing a session video and basing discussion on it is a great option.

We are always looking for your feedback and ideas to make your CSTA Annual Conference even better. Feel free to post your thoughts here, or contact a member of the program committee directly if you prefer.

Dave Reed
2014 CSTA Annual Conference Program Chair
College Faculty Rep, CSTA Board of Directors