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John Pane <[log in to unmask]>
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John Pane <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 1 May 2008 23:52:10 -0400
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Expanding the Benefits of Computational Thinking to Diverse Populations
                 Graduate Student Consortium at VL/HCC'08
              Herrsching am Ammersee, Germany, September 16, 2008

Graduate students whose work is related to the research theme below are
invited to participate in a Graduate Student Consortium at the 2008 IEEE
Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing (VL/HCC'08).
This conference will be held September 16-20, 2008 in Herrsching am
Ammersee, Germany.

Grants for Graduate Students
VL/HCC'08 anticipates funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF)
to help defray expenses to attend the conference. Eligibility for this
funding is limited to graduate students from U.S. universities and
research institutions; however, graduate students from outside the U.S.
are encouraged to obtain other support to participate in this event.

Research Theme
Interactive computer software permeates many individuals'
working lives, and people are increasingly relying on computing and
information systems for leisure and home activities. For many people
it is no longer sufficient to consume the packaged software and scripted
tasks developed by the professional software industry - many people now
must produce their own computational solutions to a wide variety of
problems, including spreadsheet models, web sites, educational media
and simulations, automated business procedures, and scientific

In this context, the term programming does not refer solely to languages
designed for professional programmers, such as Java or C#. Studies
suggest that end-user programmers outnumber professional programmers
by more than four to one, and their numbers exceed 10 million in the
US alone. For this broader class of programmers, programming takes many
forms. For example, CAD systems and spreadsheet systems are programming
language environments in which constraints and formulas are snippets of
declarative programs. Other examples include multimedia/web authoring,
voice mail programming, and building macros by demonstration.

Unfortunately, current advances toward computational thinking by end
users are not evenly distributed across all segments of the population.
Our society is rapidly evolving into two distinct classes: the  
haves" and the "computation have-nots." This class distinction becomes  
obvious barrier to the opportunities for the "have-nots" to advance in
terms of career and influence, both individually and in groups. One  
for this divide is that very little information technology research is
aimed specifically at the needs of disadvantaged users. Furthermore,  
is virtually no research directed at computational problem-solving and
information manipulation by users in these groups. Serving diverse user
populations is a rich area that could raise interesting issues
from a number of research communities that do not normally contribute to
the design of programming languages and environments (e.g., sociology or

In this event, we aim to help the "have-nots" by exploring ways of
enhancing access to a wide range of information technology. This might
involve increasing participation in programs that teach computational
thinking, lowering the barriers to learning programming, or inventing
approaches to programming in unexplored domains. It could also involve
research that seeks to understand and explain the nature of  
thinking and the growing class divide that it represents. We encourage
submissions that contribute to any of these perspectives.

Who Can Participate
Students may apply to present their work to a panel of experts and to
interested conference attendees. The goal is to exchange ideas, generate
new ones, and receive constructive feedback. Current Ph.D. students are
preferred, but M.S. students who intend to go on to pursue a Ph.D. may
also apply. For one third of the participation slots, student
researchers who have participated once before will be given priority;
and for the other slots, students who have not participated before will
be given priority. Each student from the returning group will be linked
with new students in a mentoring arrangement. All participating students
are expected to attend the graduate consortium and the main conference,
September 16-19.

All other conference attendees are invited to attend the event to listen
to the presentations, interact with the participants, and add to the
feedback available to the presenters. No additional sign-up process or
registration fee is involved.

Application Process
Applications are due May 18.

Please send the following items by email to John Pane ([log in to unmask]):

1. A statement of up to 30 words explaining how your research fits the
    research theme listed above.

2. A 2-page research abstract, introducing and motivating the research
    problem, describing research methods, summarizing results obtained
    thus far, and discussing research implications. Abstracts must be
    formatted in IEEE two-column conference format. Abstracts exceeding
    two pages will not be considered. The abstracts of accepted
    participants will be included in the conference proceedings.

3. Your CV.

4. A letter of recommendation sent by your thesis advisor directly to
    the organizers in a separate email message.

Preferred file format is PDF (Adobe Portable Document Format).

Committee/Panel and Event Organizers
Martin Erwig (Oregon State University)
Judith Good (University of Sussex)
John Pane (RAND Corporation)
Mary Beth Rosson (Pennsylvania State University)
Steve Tanimoto (University of Washington)
Susan Wiedenbeck (Drexel University)

Deadline for applications: May 18
Notification: May 28
Final camera-ready abstracts due: June 12
Graduate Student Consortium: September 16
Main conference: September 17-19
Workshops: September 20


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