Saturday, August 23, 2008

What does it mean to be engaging?

Last week, I was at Steven Dow's thesis defense. Steven was studying "embodied narrative engagement" -- storytelling in an augmented reality. As any good Ph.D. student should, he offered definitions of all his critical terms, including "engagement."

Given our theme for this year, I thought that it might be useful to share some of the quotes that he offered on "engagement."
  • Coleridge, 1817: Engagement is a "willing suspension of disbelief."
  • Nell, 1988: It's to be "lost" (as in a book).
  • Janet Murray in her 1997 book Hamlet on the Holodeck: Engagement is to "confront questions of human existence."
  • Bolter and Grusin in their 1999 book Remediation: Engagement is an "authentic emotional experience."
  • Green and Brock, 2000: Engagement is to be "emotionally involved."
How many of these correspond to our notion of "engagement" in the classroom? Do we aim for students getting "lost" in the "authentic experience"? Do we reach for students being "emotionally involved"?

I look forward to seeing your definitions of engagement in your SIGCSE 2009 submissions, due this coming Friday, August 29!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Re-Visiting Chattanooga

Sue and I spent last Thursday and Friday re-visiting Chattanooga. We had last been there in December 2006, when we selected Chattanooga as our site for SIGCSE 2009. It was time to go back, meet our contacts, and start making lower-level plans for SIGCSE 2009.

We had a great visit. The weather was picture-perfect. We took walks around the city, to enjoy the city and to time the walking commute between hotels, the Conference Center, and the Aquarium. We met a Southern Belle telling us about riverboat trips available on the Tennessee River, pictured here with Sue.

On Friday, we visited potential caterers for the reception. What an interesting experience! At first, we couldn't understand why the visitor's bureau put long, two hour gaps in our schedule between visiting caterers. Then we realized: taste testing! Each caterer wooed us with tastes of wonderful food that might be served at the reception, and even napkins already monogrammed just for us. Even if you only "taste" each of the wonderful goodies, how many small meals can one eat in one day?!? We needed those hours between to simply digest all those goodies.

You can expect more blogs with pictures over the next few weeks. There were lots of good things to see in Chattanooga!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Thinking about Chattanooga

"Wow -- that SIGCSE deadline sure is early this year! AUGUST 29! I dunno...what's in Chattanooga anyway?!?"

Got these thoughts here in early August? Wipe those thoughts away! Get those submissions in!

Chattanooga is a really fun city. They just opened up a new website to highlight some of the excitement of Chattanooga. Find it at

Looking forward to reading your submission soon!