Chautauqua announcement

Teaching Communication Skills
in the Software Engineering Curriculum:
A Forum for Professionals and Educators

Supported by NSF Award #0722231

Miami University — Oxford, Ohio  USA
June 9-11, 2008

The Chautauqua will explore ways of creating a new curriculum for software engineering students
that better equips them with the communications skills they will need in their careers.

MotivationStakeholdersIssuesParticipationCosts & Support
ScheduleLocationChautauqua TraditionOrganization


Communication — between humans — remains at the heart of software development. Software engineers must constantly engage with a wide range of stakeholders who have very different perspectives and goals. Problems in communication between software engineers and other stakeholders are a common cause of requirements deficiencies, cost overruns, and delays. Yet software engineering students typically get little exposure to the communication challenges in the workplace.

We have a vision of a new curriculum where communication is a core skill, tightly integrated with the other aspects of software engineering, rather than a stand-alone topic taught outside of software engineering. With such a curriculum, software engineering students will become not only creative designers and thoughtful analysts but also effective communicators.

The Chautauqua is a loosely structured, interdisciplinary forum for those invested in this topic — software engineering educators, technical communication educators, and industrial partners — to articulate challenges and solutions, and to build links for further work. Following the historical precedent of the Chautauqua, we seek a wide range of activities: reports, demonstrations, tutorials, and panel discussions.


We invite participation from:


Here are some questions that we wish to explore at the Chautauqua. This is by no means an exhaustive list.


If you are interested in contributing to this important discussion, we ask you to submit a one-page position paper — in which you describe your experience in software engineering and/or technical communication, and the issues that you would most like to see addressed at the Chautauqua. This will help us to plan activities according to participant preferences.

We also strongly encourage you to propose (in a separate document) an activity for the Chautauqua, in which you share your experiences with other participants, or provide a forum to discuss questions that you find particularly significant. We use the term “activity” in a broad sense — We want you to use the format that best suits your background and topic. Activities may include (but are not restricted to):

Please send your submissions to

There will be two reviews of activity proposals: the first will cover all submissions received by March 20, and the second will cover all submissions received by April 25. (The second review will reconsider submissions that were not accepted in the first review.)

Costs and Support

We will support travel, food, lodging, and registration costs for 30 participants. Preference for support will be given to participants who have proposed activities that have been accepted. For those not receiving support, there is a fee of $150 to cover food and registration costs (this fee will not cover lodging or travel).


Monday, June 9
3:00 PM
Registration opens
5:00 PM
6:00 PM

6:45 PM
7:00 PM
Keynote address
Ted Dworkin, Microsoft Corporation
8:30 PM
Evening Social (Miami Inn)

Tuesday, June 10
7:00 AM
8:00 AM
Panel: Curriculum-wide approaches to communication
Paul Anderson, Miami University (facilitator)
Susan Ruff, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Martha Patton, University of Missouri
9:45 AM
Panel: What the profession needs Michael Carter, North Carolina State University (facilitator)
11:00 AM
Template scaffolding to enhance communication and improve understanding in the software engineering curriculum
Heidi Ellis, Trinity College
Greg Hislop, Drexel University
12:15 PM Lunch  
1:30 PM
Communication opportunities
of incorporating real-world artifacts in SE Courses
Cem Kaner, Florida Institute of Technology
2:45 PM
Steve Chenoweth, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
4:00 PM
Consolidation of day's ideas Paul Anderson, Miami University (facilitator)
5:30 PM
Optional activities:
Tour of Miami University's Thunder Room
(Digital Collaboration Facility)
- or -
Formal garden walk
6:30 PM
8:00 PM
Evening Social (Miami Inn)

Wednesday, June 11
7:00 AM
8:00 AM
Setting goals for day
Janet Burge, Miami University (facilitator)
8:30 AM
Educating software engineering students
in international and intercultural communications
Nigel Gwee, Southern University
9:45 AM
Enhancing student collaboration & coordination
with wikis & related tools
Clif Kussmaul, Muhlenberg College
11:00 AM
Communication in design
William Eberle, Tennessee Technological University
12:00 PM

1:15 PM
Experiences from a usability engineering study Pardha Pyla, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University
2:30 PM
Curriculum design
Susan Ruff, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (facilitator)
4:15 PM
Reflection: What next?
Charles Wallace, Michigan Technological University (facilitator)
6:00 PM


The Chautauqua will be held at Miami University in Oxford Ohio, located about 35 miles north of Cincinnati. The Miami University campus is considered one of the most beautiful in the country. Conference sessions will be held at the newly renovated Benton Hall, home of the Computer Science and Systems Analysis Department, and accommodations will be at the Miami Inn.

Chautauqua Tradition

The Chautauqua movement in the United States was a phenomenon of great educational significance in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Theodore Roosevelt called it “the most American thing in America”. Chautauquas, loosely defined, were educational summer camps. While some were permanent (indeed, a few remain today), most were itinerant, presented under tents that were set up for several days and then moved to the next location. A Chautauqua consisted of a variety of entertainments, with the emphasis on lectures or sermons, but with other diversions on the side, including theater, storytelling, and music. For many years, the NSF has had a Chautauqua program of short courses in scientific topics for college instructors.


Steering committee