In this issue of News from the SIGs, we bring news from SIGCSE and SIGITE. Our SIGCSE reporter, Amber Settle, looks at SIGCSE's global reach. Our SIGITE reporter, Steve Zilora, ruminates on the effect that immersive technology is having on our lives, particularly our interactions with others.

From our SIGCSE reporter and SIGCSE chair, Amber Settler.

One of the most enjoyable things for me as a SIGCSE member is getting to know computing educators from around the world. This is easy to do since the approximately 2500 SIGCSE members come from 76 countries on six continents. The five countries with the largest SIGCSE membership are the United States (80.73%), Canada (2.72%), the United Kingdom (2.53%), Australia (1.50%), and Germany (1.10%). Table 1 shows SIGCSE membership by geographic area.

However, like other ACM SIGs, participation in SIGCSE conferences is not always representative of the overall membership. To illustrate what I mean, I will focus on the two SIGCSE conferences designed to include both computing education practitioners and researchers–the SIGCSE Technical Symposium and the Annual Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education (ITiCSE).

From its inception, ITiCSE has been a conference held in and around Europe, with a foray into South America in 2016. As such, conference attendees hail from a diverse set of countries. Table 2 shows the geographic distribution of ITiCSE attendees for the past five years. Since the hosting of the conference typically boosts attendance, the host countries have been separated out for each year from their overall geographic region. The geographic areas with fewer participants have been grouped together into "the rest" category.

Some things stand out from this data. First, Europeans participate in ITiCSE in greater numbers than their overall SIGCSE membership. Here we must congratulate the ITiCSE organizers, many of them European themselves, since a goal of the ACM is a strong presence in Europe. Similarly, Australasian participation in ITiCSE is higher than SIGCSE membership numbers might suggest. The contributions of participants from Australia and New Zealand are numerous and make the conference better. Next, while North Americans are the largest group in any year above, their participation is lower than SIGCSE membership numbers might indicate and never reaches more than half the conference. Finally, there are some important geographic areas that are not being reached either by ITiCSE or by SIGCSE, notably Asia. Finding ways to reach these groups is crucial for the global aspirations of the organization.

A different picture can be seen from the SIGCSE Symposium attendance numbers from the past five years. The Symposium is always held in the United States, and the numbers in Table 3 make it clear that North American, and specifically American, participants are the majority of attendees:

While SIGCSE membership is also overwhelmingly North American, the Symposium is skewed even further than that. In recognition of the importance, and difficulty, of making global participants feel welcome in a conference dominated by Americans, the conference committee has had an international liaison periodically beginning in the 1990s and consistently since 2000. In many recent years, the liaison has organized events, and specifically a lunch, to help bring global participants together.

While serving the largest SIGCSE demographic via the largest conference is important, finding other ways to entice computing educators from around the world to attend the Symposium should remain a goal for conference organizers and the SIGCSE Board. If you have fresh ideas on how to do that, please reach out to me. The other Board members and I are eager to hear from you.

From Steve Zilora, our SIGITE reporter.

I try to get to the gym a few times a week to stay fit. I see many of the same people there, but there is little interaction. We all strap on our heart monitors, put in our ear buds, and get lost in our own world while we trudge away. My gym has introduced a "social" element by providing heart monitors that transmit your information to a repository in real time. This allows the gym to display, on a large board, just how un-fit you are relative to others taking part in this social exercise. It also gives us a chance to play detective as we try to match the "handles" that are displayed on the board to the actual people in the room. Along with this is a competition, a public display of how hard you've pushed yourself during the current month. Each month the winner receives some prize. I'm not sure what it is since I'm never in contention. I think it may be a gift certificate for some organic, kale smoothie or something like that. If it were for a couple of donuts, I might be more motivated.

But our wearable technology has opened these new frontiers. Our progress is tracked and stored automatically, we have both immediate feedback and longer term trend analysis available, and we can enjoy a fun competitive environment while working out. Many years ago, when a friend of mine took me running for the first time, he told me that as long as we could carry on a conversation, we were running at a good pace. Now, as I run on the treadmill, instead of carrying on a conversation I am looking at my heartrate and what percent of maximum rate I am at in order to know whether it's a good pace. Frankly, I miss the conversation. All this leads me to wonder about the effect technology is having on our lives. We are social creatures, after all. Does technology enhance our interactions or transform them? If the latter, is this a good thing? I think these are very relevant questions for us as IT educators. One of the aspects I love about IT is that it is about the application of computing–how can we leverage computing to address all sorts of problems. An emerging area of IT is city science. At the 2016 SIGITE conference, Nigel Jacob from Boston's Office of New Urban Mechanics spoke about the ways in which IT is being applied throughout the city. Will this be another watershed moment as in the late 1800s when Edison lit up Pearl St. and made electricity part of the fabric of our lives? Looking at this one example of city science highlights the role of IT in the 21st century. It will no longer be a back-office operation that supports business needs. Nor will it be something that allows us to "jump on the internet" when we're visiting our local Starbucks. Instead, it will be inextricably woven into the fabric of our lives just as electricity is today. Terms like ubiquitous and pervasive have been bandied about, but I prefer immersive. Computing will not be something we do, it will be something that is. The questions for us as ethical IT professionals and educators are, how do we embrace it and what may we be leaving behind?

• For more information on these SIGs, see the following websites

SIGCSE: www.sigcse.org

SIGITE: www.sigite.org

SIGMIS: www.sigmis.org

References

1. SACM Awards; http://awards.acm.org/grades-of-membership.cfm. Accessed 2016 March 31.

2. ACM/IEEE 2017 Information Technology Task Group on IT, IT2017 Report v0.51, 2016.

3. Zilora, S. "News from the SIGs." ACM Inroads, 7,1 (2016), 9–10.

Authors

Ellen L. Walker
Professor of Computer Science
Hiram College
Hiram, OH 44234 USA
walkerel@hiram.edu

Amber Settle
Vincent de Paul Associate Professor
School of Computing
College of Computing and Digital Media
DePaul University
Chicago, IL 60604 USA
asettle@cdm.depaul.edu

Steve Zilora
Associate Professor and Chair
Information Sciences and Technologies Department
Rochester Institute of Technology
Rochester, New York 14623 USA
Stephen.Zilora@rit.edu

Tables

T1Table 1. SIGCSE membership by region

T2Table 2. ITiCSE attendance by region: 2012 – 2016

T3Table 3. SIGCSE Symposium attendance by region: 2012 – 2016

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