It’s the most wonderful time of the year

It’s late September, which can only mean one thing around these parts:  I’m already hopelessly far behind in the term.  No, wait, that’s not right.  Well, ok, it is right, but I digress.  Late September can mean only one OTHER thing:

The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing!  My absolute favorite conference of the year.

This year it’s in Atlanta, which is exciting for me because I’ve never been to Atlanta.  (Also, because it’s a Delta hub which means cheap direct flights from the MSP.)  It’s also exciting because on Friday night I’m going to be touring the GVU Center at Georgia Tech, which is their HCI/human-centered computing lab.  Those of you who have read this blog for a bit know that increasingly, my research is touching the boundaries of HCI (human-computer interaction), so this field trip is doubly exciting for me.

Also exciting (how many times can I use that word in this post), and nerve-wracking, is the fact that I’ll be speaking on a panel this year!  Our panel (Friday morning, 10am, Dunwoody, if any attendees are reading this!) is titled “Building Bridges and Breaking Barriers: Panel on Diversity and Inclusion in Computer Science Education”.  We have a superstar panel lined up and I’m very psyched to be facilitating what should be a very interesting discussion with my fellow panelists!  I’m going to be discussing some of the things we’ve been doing in our Intro classes and beyond to make our CS classes less scary and more inclusive without sacrificing rigor.

I’ll be blogging throughout the conference, as I usually do, sharing my thoughts and some of the interesting things I’ve heard.  I may even use this opportunity to start tweeting in earnest—we’ll see.  Look for the updates throughout the week, and possibly into next week.


An open letter to Moodle

Dear Moodle,

I have really enjoyed working with you all these years.  I appreciate that you allow me to post course content, assignments, news feeds, etc, all in one place; that you take care of populating my course calendar with due dates, collecting student assignments and the feedback from the grader on those assignments; and that you automagically compute my grades for me (although, I hate to admit, I do double-check in Excel just to be sure you’re correct).  Sure, we have some misunderstandings from time to time, and there are things I wish you could do better, but what relationship is without its problems, right?

However, there is one thing that I wish more than life itself that you would learn to do.  One thing that would save me countless hours of repetitive work, wailing and gnashing of teeth, and all that jazz.  Just one simple thing:


You see, dear Moodle, I have decided to give daily reading assignments in my class.  Really, the only thing that differs on these assignments is the reading assignment date and the actual readings.  The format on all of these is exactly the same. So I’d love to be able to create one reading assignment, and then “clone” it 27 times (one for each class meeting).  Or, even, create a new assignment and then be able to select the desired template (that I’ve created within Moodle, ideally) for that assignment.  Heck, this would also work well for the more classic assignments I’ll be giving, since each of those assignments have the exact same headers and some of the same content.

But alas, this is not to be.  I am forced to go in and create an entirely new assignment and re-create all of the content and layout from scratch.  Or—and I hate to admit that I’ve been sneaking around, cheating on you, dear Moodle, but I have—create a template outside of you and copy/paste this template into each assignment.

So please, dear Moodle.  I know that if you love some….er, something, you should not demand that it change just to suit you, but I feel this is all for the best.  I just want you to be the best course management system that you can possibly be.  In light of this, is my simple request really too much to ask?

Love and syllabi,