This paper was a summary of the work done on the Alice project in the summer of 2008. It had some information on why the use of Alice is being encouraged. It can be used to introduce students to programming at a young age. It can also be used as a tool for teachers to teach a wide range of other subjects. This article addressed how it can be used to teach Language Arts/Literature, Social Studies/History, Art, and Technology/Programming. It gave some information on what concepts middle school students used when they had free time with Alice. It was found the students can start using Alice as young as in 3rd grade, going more in depth when they get to 5th grade.
This paper is a summary of the work done in 2009 on the Alice project. This paper also addressed why Alice is used and why there is currently a lack of interest in computer science. Tutorials were developed in Alice to get students started with the basics of Alice, making animation effects, creating objects, learning computer science concepts such as inheritance and variables, and making quizzes and games. Alice example worlds were created to educate students in two main areas: Math and Music. The Math worlds taught concepts about rounding, dimensions and area, and converting improper fractions. The music worlds involved identification of instruments, notes, scales. The article discussed what objects would be nice additions to Alice.
This paper discussed how Alice can be use to prepare students for programming. In introductory programming courses, there is usually a wide range of abilities of the students. It would be helpful for the teachers to look at what sort of skills the students are missing that do not do as well in CS classes, it is tempting to say that they simply do not have problem solving skills. However, there are some students who succeed in areas such as math but still are not strong problem solver in the specific way needed for programming. Students need to develop the skills to create an algorithm for solving problems. Another problem students have, especially when debugging, is figuring out where the program went wrong. This because it is difficult for them to visualize what step the program goes through. They can sometimes try tracing through the code but this sometimes leads to more confusion. Alice is a tool used to help students these two main issues. It helps them to develop the skills to create algorithms as well as visualize what the code does.
Ithaca College has a summer program for high school students which uses Alice to help students learn the concepts of programming and problem solving. Alice makes it easy for students to make 3D environment without having to write complicated code. It also shows students how to write methods and when it is necessary. For example, in order to make a bunny jump in Alice, there would be several instructions to be called. The student can then write a method called "hop" which causes all of those instruction any time the hop method is called. Alice also teaches students how to use functions and recursion. Recursion is often a difficult concept to grasp but makes it easy to visualize what is actually happening. Alice also has options to use mouse events and user input to make a program interactive. This is especially useful for creating games. Alice also makes it easy to see the state of an object. An Alice user can see the properties of an object such as color and location at any time.
The article then discussed some issues with Alice. However, since the Article is from 2010, some of these issues are outdated. There were multiple issues discussed that are due to the fact the Alice runs multiple processes at the same time. However, in the current version, each line is executed separately and in order unless it is put inside of a DoTogether loop. This, I believe, would alleviate most of the problems discussed in the article.
This article discussed the benefits of Alice, mainly how it helps develop skills in creating algorithms. With the rate at which technology is developing, it is becoming more important for people to become Fluent in Information Technology (FIT). One main problem for students learning to program, is that they do not know how to develop good algorithms. Alice focuses on the need to involve the artistic side of the brain as well as the logical side. It does this by providing a 3D visualization for any project that is created. The basics of algorithmic thinking can be taught with simple lessons using Alice. For example, if a world has a snowman and a stool, the students could be assigned to move the snowman to the stool. The students would probably do this by having the snowman move forward several times until it gets to the stool. The next requirement would be to have the snowman move to the stool no matter how far away it is. They could do this by using the distanceTo function and a loop to call move that many times.
There are several benefits to using Alice. It makes it easy to see immediate feedback. When writing a program using a regular programming language, a student has to write code to create output if they want to see anything. With Alice, it is automatic. Alice also gets students excited about programming. They often spend more time than is required modifying their projects to make the animation seem more realistic. It also makes it easier to see the state of each object in the world. Students also tend to work well in groups, creating better projects than they do individually. One thing that makes Alice simple is that each instruction is very similar to an English sentence. Alice also teaches students object-oriented concepts such as inheritance and information hiding.
This article discussed the results of an outreach program called Just Be. The program was started by the Women in Informatics and Computing (WIC) group at Indiana University. The program addresses stereotypical attitudes towards computing and tries to shift them to a more positive attitude. They are very carefull because sometimes discussing stereotypes can actually lead to enforcing them.
The presenters usually start of by introducing themselves and talking about what they do in computing and what else they enjoy doing. This helps the students see that they are well rounded and there are many different career possibilities in computing. Then the students' stereotypes of computing professionals are discussed. Pictures of various professionals are shown and the students are asked to identify what the people do based on their appearances. After this discussion, the students realize that the stereotypes they have, are not always true. Then the presenter discusses different occupations that employ computing. Then some group activities are done and the students are asked for input. They emphasize that a variety of viewpoints are needed to come up with the best solutions. They finish by giving the students information on careers in computing.
To evaluate the results of this program, a survey is given to the participants before this presentation and the same one is given after. These surveys showed that Just Be created more positive views toward computing and reduced the stereotypes. The effect was especially strong for girls, who tended to have more negative views and stereotypes to begin with.
This paper discussed a program called Exploring Computer Science. Results from a one year pilot study suggest that the program increased interest in computing for diverse groups. In Los Angeles, an AP readiness program was launched so AP Computer Science students could go to the UCLA campus and recieve supplemental instruction. It was also a place for professional development and collaboration for the teachers. This greatly increased the number of students enrolled in APCS especially for underrepresented groups. Instructors soon learned, however, that the learned curve in this class was too steep. Another class was needed to engage students in CS topics. It also needed to be a college-preparatory course so that students would find it worthwhile to take. They started making curriculum for this course. During the pilot course, almost 300 students enrolled in 7 different high schools. Almost have were female and a large portion were African American or Latino. It was found that the students attitudes toward Computer Science were positively changed in many ways.
This paper compared the use of digital visualization tools to the use of traditional visualation tools such as anatomy drawings and 3D models. The experiment was done in a course taught at the University of Utah. The course was taught to both Art majors who had little technology experience and to Techology or Engineering majors who had little Artistic experience. The purpose of the course was to introduce students from both areas to 3D modeling. One section of the course was taught using traditional visualation tools. The other section was taught using digital visualization tools. The results showed that the digital tools greatly helped the students to understand the form, structure, and anatomy of anthropomorphic characters.
This paper described the motivation for and the design of a new Computer Science curriculum at Stanford University. The field of Computer Science has been rapidly changing in recent years. The goal at Stanford was to reform the curriculum to adjust to these changes. They also wanted to increase students' awareness of the wide breadth of career options with a CS major. An increase in CS majors was not one of the goals but it ended up happening anyways. It led to an increase of over 40% in the number of CS major declarations. The new structure had core courses that everyone must take, different tracks each CS major could choose from, each with its own additional courses, and a list of electives.