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Introduction to Coding, Robots and AI

January 25, 2018

Take me to the SOW.

 

If two developments are going to transform society in the next fifty years or so then it will be robots and AI. To make sense of them a grounding in basic programming and computer logic is essential. Watching my mother-in-law trying to navigate the menus on her TV is testimony enough to the problems incurred when there is no such base level understanding!

 

This is true of everyone in the 21st century. However, living in the Gulf, where money to invest in new R&D is abundant it becomes doubly important. International students need to become fluent in IT issues and logic. As their home nations race to diversify away from oil you can bet the jobs of the future in this region will become ever more specialised in this direction. The ambitions for Masdar City, UAE is a case in point.

 

Therefore, this mini SOW acts as an introduction in the truest sense of the word. My hope was to get across the idea of how new technologies can unleash a process of creative destruction – with winners and losers. That progress is not just linear and issues are rarely, if ever, black and white. A great opportunity to dabble with some analysis of social issues before getting down to the coding from lesson 3 onwards.

 

There is a tonne of resources online for basic programming. For the Computer Science Education Week lots of companies produced one off resources or freely opened up some of their existing catalogue of coding tutorials. For a teacher these are an absolute gold mine.

 

The SOW makes use of the specially made Google Doodle to teach Repeat functions, Robozzle for its easy use of subroutines and a Scratch ‘Flappy Birds’ game so they can experience more developed use of code functions and using a compiler. For debugging my school was lucky enough to work alongside Easy Peasy Coding and make use of their Ozobot teaching resources. Seeing the robots trundle around the page before stuttering to a stop was a superbly visual way of teaching the concept of debugging your code. My lesson merely bolts on an EAL frame to this one off lesson.

 

Taken together these lessons provided a useful taster to my international students. A lot of EAL focus can be on quite mundane areas of vocabulary acquisition. It made a refreshing change to be discussing these more advanced topics and my classes responded enthusiastically to the challenge.