Notes on conference

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Again, let me tell you stories from this one.

If you went to the National Conference on IT Education (NCITE 2003), I hope you didn’t miss Cherry Sta. Romana’s plenary talk on Data Structures: From Structured to Object-oriented. She is clearly, inspiringly passionate about computer science education. A dean of the Cebu Institute of Technology, she told stories of how the industry and the academe are working very closely together in Cebu. The companies there rather vocally complain about the lack of qualified graduates; apparently, only 5% of the CS and IT graduates are employable. To address this, they formed an organization that conducts training and development.

Object-oriented programming is one of the areas this foundation focuses on. Many computer science teachers are new to object-oriented design and programming because they’ve only been exposed to the structured programming paradigm. Even when they teach object-oriented languages like C++ or Java, their design is still fundamentally structured – functional decomposition, algorithm-centered design, and haphazard data sharing. As a result, neither teachers nor students develop an appreciation of object-oriented design principles. Straight OOP is intimidating because it presents many new concepts at once. Cherry presented an alternative approach – an intermediate step focusing on programmer-defined data types in any languge, even languages that do not explicitly support object-oriented programming. This allows people to gradually transition toward thinking of programs of data + methods while working in a language they know well. With that background, they will be able to appreciate the features of OOP languages like C++ and Java because these languages enforce the rules they had consciously followed.

Not only was her topic useful, her delivery was also captivating. She was fast and confident, she used slides effectively, and she kept the audience interested. I have so much to learn from her!

In other news:

Without doubt, Mario is a natural performer. He might have a lisp that can be distracting in one-on-one conversations and he might have a hard time preparing slides, but once he’s in front of an audience, he’s all set. =)

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