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How To Do SIGGRAPH Courses
Audience: Full Conference Registration
 
Background
SIGGRAPH courses have been integral parts of conferences since their beginning in 1977. These programs have educated thousands, inspired new ideas and publications, and fueled active exchange between research and practice.
 
The best course experiences are circular. They feed knowledge, grow experience, and ultimately inspire teaching with seeds from the original course. Your best departure point is knowing what you need and want from them.
 
Essentials
  • Prepare in advance. Do some prep work before you arrive. Check the conference Web pages for any additional reading material, if the organizers have provided this. Buying and reviewing the printed course notes is also recommended. They are good for understanding the agenda and preparing questions. They can be reviewed in the merchandise area before purchase.
     
  • Choose a seat. Depending upon the room, the session will seat between 200 and 2,000 people. Since the screens are set up for the maximum possible attendance, a seat near the front is not always optimal. Sitting about 1/4 to 1/3 back from the front is usually good. Also consider sitting mid way in a row to avoid aisle traffic (unless you know you have to get up and leave a lot).
     
  • Take notes. The printed course notes are handy to have before the course. Study them to determine when you will need to take notes and what questions you will ask. Rooms are dark, they don't have tables, and presentations will be full of more detail than you can absorb in a day. So you will want to take notes.
     
  • Know the agenda. Day-long courses are typically designed so that afternoon topics build on morning presentations. You should determine if you should remain in a course all day or if you can move to other course sessions of interest. For full-day offerings, usually you should stay for the entire presentation. Check the conference Web page for agenda insights.
     
  • Ask questions. Prepare to ask questions before, during, and after the presentation. Course organizers and speakers present these courses because they want to further people's understanding. Be interactive with them. This is much better than a silent crowd. If you have questions about content or whether you are a target audience, inquire with the course organizer via email. Microphones will be set up for use during the session. If something is unclear or you missed something, ask. Don't hesitate to ask after the course, either. It may take you awhile to know really the right question to ask. When you find it, you'll also probably find the speaker to be very helpful.
     
  • Dress comfortably. Some of the larger session rooms can be very well air conditioned. Be prepared to pull something on if you get chilled easily.
     
  • Tracking down presenters. At the conference, you have at least two options: during the intermission (for a very limited time) or at the course reception (although the crowds will be very large). You can also find presenters via email if you capture that before you leave.

Frequently Asked Questions
 
Q: Do I need to buy the course notes?
A: As a convenience, the printed course notes are helpful for concentrating on your listening rather than writing, although you should preview the notes in the merchandise area before buying them.
 
Q: Do I need to pre-register for seating?
A: Conference attendees with the Full Conference registration are allowed to attend any and all courses in a week. This allows them to visit more than one course at a time. Thus, seating is on a first-come, first-served basis without reservation.
 
Q: Where can I get more information?
A: Course organizers often post additional information for review before the conference. Check the conference Web site for information about a given course. Contact the organizer or speaker if you have questions. The Course Notes CD-ROM is available during and after the conference, so this is a resource, too.
 
Checklist
  • Small pad of paper and pen or pencil.
     
  • Sweatshirt (if you get cold easily).
     
  • Printed course notes (if desired).

Feedback
 
This information was brought to you by SIGGRAPH Pathfinders, a volunteer group dedicated to mentoring of first-time conference visitors.
 
Please take a moment to help us help you. Share with us how this information improved (or could have improved) your conference experience. You can reach us at SIGGRAPH 2001 at the Pathfinder booth in main registration or via email: pathfinders@siggraph.org. Thank you.
 


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