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Why Participatory Sessions at SATURN 2014?

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Experience reports and case studies are some of the most effective learning tools available to professional software engineers today. For decades, software engineers have improved the state of practice by sharing stories of their harrowing adventures and triumphant successes. Taking the time to share lessons from our past experiences not only helps us to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past but also spreads the most effective practices widely. This is why SATURN has included experience reports in the main conference program since the start.

While hearing about others’ experiences is important, there is only so much that you can learn by listening to others talk about what they did and what they learned. Learning from experiences of your own is an essential part of growing as a professional software engineer. This is especially true for software architecture, an area that requires a broad understanding of theory and practice.

To fill this important need, in addition to experience reports, SATURN has also always offered tutorials on software architecture to help create opportunities for attendees to learn by doing. Tutorials at SATURN are half-day, classroom-style experiences that generally include a mix of lectures and exercises. In addition to half-day tutorials, this year at SATURN we plan to include 90-minute participatory sessions. Participatory sessions differ from tutorials in three ways:

  1. Shorter timeframe--Having only 90 minutes means the learning is tightly focused and extremely dense.

  2. Minimum 50% hands-on time--Participants will learn new ideas by practicing them. Learning by doing reinforces learning and can be more effective than showing or telling alone.

  3. During the core conference--Not everyone learns the same way. Having multiple session formats during the core conference means we can enable learning for many learning styles. Your learning style may even change throughout the day!

As a bonus, delivering a participatory session is itself an amazing opportunity for learning, practice, and growth. Two important roles software architects often fill are “teacher” and “facilitator.” Preparing and delivering a participatory session at SATURN is the perfect opportunity to practice and hone essential skills required for these roles. When deciding what session format is right for the lessons you want to share with your fellow professionals and colleagues, consider designing and proposing a 90-minute participatory session. - Michael Keeling SATURN 2014 Technical Chair

SATURN 2014 will be held in Portland, Oregon, May 5-9, 2014. See the SATURN 2014 Call for Submissions to learn how you can submit an abstract to present your ideas at SATURN 2014.  Proposals for 30-minute experience-report presentations, 90-minute participatory sessions, and half-day tutorials must be submitted to the online submission system no later than January 10, 2014. For proposals that are submitted before November 22, 2013, the program committee will provide feedback that submitters can use to refine their proposals before the final deadline.

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Bill Pollak

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