Spring IT Day 2019

Spring IT Day returns to the University of Guelph campus on May 9th. The event runs from 8:30 am until 4:15 pm.

I took part in Spring IT Day last year, speaking about Bridging the Digital Divide in the Circumpolar North with my graduate student, Nic Durish1.

I am happy to announce that Nic and I will once again be leading a discussion at this year’s conference. Our focus, however, will be on another topic that is near and dear to us: specifically community-engaged software design.

I have written about community-engaged learning within a software design class previously (see here and here, for example), but writing about it and experiencing it are two different things. For that reason, we have opted to move away from a lecture style for our Spring IT Day presentation, and instead run a mini workshop. The goal of the workshop will be to demonstrate how community-engaged learning can be integrated into the classroom, and more importantly, how it can help foster and support the teaching and development of:

  • discipline-specific skills such as requirements gathering, planning, and prototyping, and
  • foundational skills such as critical thinking, reflection, problem solving, resiliency, bias identification, communication, etc.

The title of our mini workshop is Building Foundational Skills: Community-Engaged Software Design. Our plan is to start the event as we would our classroom – with some activities to loosen things up, break down barriers, and hopefully up the laugh-quotient of the room. We’ll spend some time chatting about the motivation for a community-engaged classroom, and how this fosters discipline-specific skills development. We’ll also chat about the need for foundational skills training, and demonstrate how these can and should be integrated into the discipline-specific training that is the software design curriculum. And hopefully, we’ll have a lot of fun doing it.

The workshop runs from 1 pm until 2 pm, and I believe that the presentation will be available as a live stream – but I’m still sorting out those details. If it is, and if you have interest in following along, I’ll make sure to share the streaming link with you.

Huge thanks once again to the organizers for inviting us back to speak. We’re pretty excited to share the power of community-engaged software design! We look forward to seeing you there.


1 A lot has happened since that talk, including the announcement of the Mitacs and Left sponsored research program to develop tools to bridge the digital divide in the North. If you’re interested in exploring wireless mobile mesh technology, check out our website and the funded graduate and postdoctoral positions that we have available.

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