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An Insider's Guide To SIGGRAPH 2003 Courses
Audience: Conference Attendee (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 strategy is to identify what you need and want from them.

Essentials
Prepare in advance. Do some prep work before you arrive. Check the conference web site for any additional reading material. Reviewing the course information and schedule online is also recommended. They are helpful to understand the agenda and prepare questions. Course notes may 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 one-quarter to one-third 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. Full-day courses are typically designed so that afternoon topics build on morning presentations. Determine if you should remain in a course all day or if you can move to other course sessions of interest. In general, you should plan to stay for the entire presentation of full-day offerings. Check the Courses schedules 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 understanding. Interact with them. This is much better than a silent crowd. If you have questions about content or if you are the target audience, inquire with the course organizer via email. Microphones are 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 a while to formulate the right question. When you do, you'll probably find the speaker 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 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 pre-register for seating?
A: Conference attendees with Full Conference registration are allowed to attend any and all courses. This allows you 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 Courses pages for information about a given course. Contact the organizer or speaker if you have questions. Full Conference registration includes course notes, on the SIGGRAPH 2003 Full Conference DVD.

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 find us at SIGGRAPH 2003 at the Pathfinder booth in main registration or via email. Thank you.



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