SPA Conference session: Inspiring The Next Generation

One-line description:What did we inherit, what do we value, how do we inspire the next generation?
Session format: 150 minute workshop [read about the different session types]
Abstract:As a community, we are fascinated by software and IT and what we can achieve with it. That fascination inspires us to produce great things that make the world a better place.
If current figures are anything to go by, however, we might be the last generation to be inspired this way: in the UK, while industry and society at large are crying out for our skills, fewer and fewer young people choose to study computing or are attracted to our profession. There has never been a better time to think about the sustainability of our profession and we shouldn’t leave it any later!

In this session we’ll debate the Software and IT Professional DNA: the knowledge, the learning, the skills, the experiences, the dreams, the unsolved problems that are core to our profession, that inspired us and that should be passed on to inspire the next generation. We will have a panel of experts to share their experiences with us.
With the industrial, academic and facilitation skills of Jenny, Lucia, Jon and Lucy, we want to have structured discussions with practitioners like you, to share your experience and aspirations, whether you are a novice or a veteran.

Audience background:Anyone who is or has been a software developer or worked in software development teams – from any background / route into your IT career – the more varied the audience the better. Also anyone with an interest in related skills development, training and education.
Benefits of participating:Gain a picture of what has inspired the current generation of Software/IT professionals and find out what the upcoming generation makes out of it. Learn about the inter-relationship between education and the profession, and their mutual sustainability, and reflect on it in the light of your professional practice, career paths and aspirations. Look at the future of our profession: get involved and help inspire future generations. Hear from others out there inspiring the next generation: gain some practical advice about what you could do to help.
Materials provided:Short video and sound bites of testimonials
Live survey and related data analysis
Sustainability model
Career paths model
Process:The workshop is organised around two themes (Computing heritage and Computing sustainable future), tackled through structured interactions and discussions including a panel session, question and answers sessions and some group work.
Detailed timetable:Introduction (10 mins)

Part I: Computing heritage: what has inspired us?
- Panel members’ testimonials (20 mins)
- Ask the audience (15 mins)

Break (5 mins)

Part II: Computing sustainable future: overcoming challenges
- Panel section (35 mins)
- Ask the panel (15 mins)

Break (10 mins)

- Group work (20 mins)
- Report to plenary (15 mins)

Wrap-up and close (5 mins)
Outputs:Outcomes from the debate will be captured and made available to all SPA participants, who will be given an opportunity to add their comments and thoughts whether they attended the session or not. An online survey will also be available, before, during and after the session, to collect further data from the wider SPA community during and post-conference, and beyond. If sufficient data are collected, a ‘crowdsourced’ article will be produced and freely disseminated, for instance, through a BCS periodical. Exchange of contact details will be possible for those wanting to get involved moving forward.
History:First time. However, Jenny has been doing talks in schools, Lucy is an experienced workshop facilitator, and Jon and Lucia are experienced researchers and academic writers in Computing. Jon is also a BCS CITP assessor.
1. Lucy Hunt
ThinkOutLoud Ltd
2. Jennifer Sivapalan
Guardian News & Media
3. Lucia Rapanotti
The Open University