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Anthropomorphism and Object Oriented Programming

the agent man Don't confuse anthropomorphizing with syntonicity (303 comments)

When Dijkstra suggested that "It [anthropomorphizing] invites the programmer to identify himself with the execution of the program" he was a bit confused about the notion of anthropomorphization. To attribute human behaviors to objects, i.e., to anthropomorphize, is very different from projecting oneself into an object. Papert called this projection, e.g. to program a virtual or physical turtle, body syntonicity. There certainly is evidence that this can be a useful thing to do to write or debug programs.

I fail to see the relevance of the example provided by the recent article for or against OO. The code in both cases is essentially the same. Just because there is no explicit class teacher does not mean that example #1 is not OO. There are really cases in which OO does lead towards certain implementation approaches that are inefficient or overly complex for no good reason. Search for "Antiobjects" to find some examples where OO would suggest to put certain behavior into a certain classes in ways that may result in very complex code. The Antiobject approach, in contrast, can lead to a very simple solution. The two approach are not only different in terms of perspective and where the code really goes but in terms of actual code. An example would be to compare a concurrent search, e.g., multiple ghost tracking down a pac-man. In the traditional OO approach one would be tempted to put the complex, e.g., A*-based "AI" into the ghosts. In the antiobject approach one would put the tracking code into the background, e.g., the tiles and walls of a maze to implement, say, a Collaborative Diffusion approach. The collaborative diffusion approach is not only trivial to implement but also results in sophisticated collaboration patterns that would be much more difficult to match with approaches flavored by traditional OO design.

about three weeks ago
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How We'll Program 1000 Cores - and Get Linus Ranting, Again

the agent man sequential programming mindset (try 64k cores) (449 comments)

I was lucky enough to gather some parallel programming experience on the Connection Machine CM2, a 64k CPU (yes that is 65536 CPUs), 12 dimensional hypercube, a long time ago. The CM2 ultimately failed but we did get many great insights into parallel programming. At the time it was just not feasible for low cost, on your desktop, computing. It is NO problem to keep massive numbers of cores busy doing interesting computing. OK, the 12 dimensions are less clear on how to use them. At any rate, to claim that there is no need for 100 cores or more is really small minded because unlike the time when silly "the world does not need more than 5 computer" kinds of comments were made we already have evidence that there are powerful ways to employ massive parallel computing that can use thousands or even millions of cores.

Just because we are being caught in a sequential programming mindset does not mean that there is no room for parallel programming. If you are looking at a two dimensional array of data and think of a nested loop you ARE caught in a sequential programming mindset. Additionally, famous people, including Dijkstra, have poopooed some algorithms that are inefficient when execute sequentially to the point where researcher, or programmers, are not even looking any more for good parallel execution. Take bubble sort. Not sure it was Dijkstra but somebody suggested to forbid it. Yes, on a sequential computer bubble sort is indeed inefficient but guess what. If communication does matter and if you are using a massively parallel architecture (i.e., not 4 cores) bubble sort becomes quite efficient because you only need to talk to your data neighbors. Likewise there are AI algorithms that can be shown to be behave really well when conceptualized and executed in parallel. Collaborative Diffusion is an example: http://www.cs.colorado.edu/~ra...

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Resources For Kids Who Want To Make Games?

the agent man Computational Thinking Patterns (121 comments)

Computational Thinking Patterns is a framework to explore and describe game play in ways that is independent from programming language. These patterns are based in phenomenology. These patterns are used in the Scalable Game Design project and mentioned by teachers are one of the most important abstractions that help student to analyze and build games. The same patterns are used to also build STEM simulations. Through theses patterns there is transfer from game design to STEM simulation building: http://sgd.cs.colorado.edu/wik...

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Resources For Kids Who Want To Make Games?

the agent man AgentCubes online (3D game design/ CS EdWeek) (121 comments)

AgentCubes online features an hour of code tutorial that allows you to make a 3D game in a browser. This is the first 3D browser based programming environment and includes making your own 3D shapes. The CS EdWeek / hour of code tutorial is about a 3D Frogger game but you can build a huge spectrum of games ranging from simple 1980 arcade style games to sophisticated AI SIMS-like games: http://sgd.cs.colorado.edu/wik... Proof that this is simple to do (Fox New 31 TV Anchorman makes a game with AgentCubes): http://kdvr.com/2013/12/10/kid... AgentCubes online is used in many schools and has been funded by the National Science Foundation.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Professionally Packaged Tools For Teaching Kids To Program?

the agent man AgentCubes online for 3D design + programming (107 comments)

Scalable Game Design with AgentCubes online (http://scalablegamedesign.cs.colorado.edu https://www.agentcubesonline.c... fits the bill as it allows your daughter to create 3D worlds similar to Minecraft but includes the ability to design her own shapes and program them.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: An Accurate Broadband Speed Test?

the agent man Re:ndt (294 comments)

not much to conclude with 2 data points.

about 3 months ago
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Fixing the Pain of Programming

the agent man Don't just be reactive, compute the future (294 comments)

In live programming an attempt is made to reduce the time between a program change and the ability to wittness consequences of this change. In the good old days, with punched cards, this was not a pretty picture as it could take a long time to get to that point. With Conversational Programming, which is a special kind of live programming, we try to go one step further and compute of the program you are writing. A simple version of Conversational Programming has been added to AgentCubes online. You can play with this as part of one of the hour of code tutorials: http://hourofcode.com/ac

about 8 months ago
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Code.org Stats: 507MM LOC, 6.8MM Kids, 2K YouTube Views

the agent man Re:YouTube is blocked (123 comments)

how about trying the University of Colorado Hour of Code activity instead to allowing them to create any program and not just a fill in the blank coding exercise? http://hourofcode.com/ac

about a year ago
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Excite Kids To Code By Focusing Less On Coding

the agent man Re:Since when... (207 comments)

Perhaps, before you make these kinds of statements, you should actually look at the research of the University of Colorado including studies showing that kids can leverage the MEASURABLE skills they got from game design to science simulation building.

about a year ago
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Could IBM's Watson Put Google In Jeopardy?

the agent man If Watson is so smart then... (274 comments)

... should it not be able to answer that question itself?

about a year ago
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How Early Should Kids Learn To Code?

the agent man Re:Logo is very easy (299 comments)

There is quite a body of literature suggesting that Logo is not that easy. More importantly, however, we can show that, with the right combination of tools (e.g., AgentSheet and AgentCubes), curricula (e.g., Scalable Game Design) and pedagogy, teachers with 0 CS background can trained to teach kids programming as early as first grade. Here is an example of a 4th grade class: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FSbA_YMsNE&feature=player_embedded

about a year ago
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How Early Should Kids Learn To Code?

the agent man Programming versus Foreign Language: Clarification (299 comments)

I just like to clarify that the trade off between programming and natural languages (or music) suggested by the title of the WIRED article does NOT reflect the goals of the Scalable Game Design curriculum discussed in the article. In fact, we have many language arts and foreign language teachers participate in the Scalable Game Design project. They find that the idea of game design is a great way to 1) motivate language arts (e.g., the notion of nouns, verbs etc. as design tools for object-oriented programming) and to 2) employ the idea of game design as a cultural bridge used in foreign language learning.

Here is link to some videos showing teachers and students including a video on how to use game design in Spanish classes: http://scalablegamedesign.cs.colorado.edu/wiki/Videos

Full disclosure: I am directing the Scalable Game Design project

about a year ago
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How Early Should Kids Learn To Code?

the agent man Re:That's fairly easy (299 comments)

Of course there is no point in coercing people into things that they do not want to do. The problem with CS is that, particularly with girls, it has a strong negative perception, e.g., "programming is hard and boring". Our data suggest, however, when introduced to CS in a certain way (with the right tools, curriculum and pedagogy) a very large percentage of students (boys and girls) changes their minds. The strategy is to expose them once in very compelling way. If they don't like it - no problem.

about a year ago
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How Early Should Kids Learn To Code?

the agent man Re:That's fairly easy (299 comments)

The challenge is to find the right kind of toy that is gender neutral but also to use a certain pedagogy, such as inquiry based approaches, which can have a big influence on broadening participation.

about a year ago
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How Early Should Kids Learn To Code?

the agent man Re:That's fairly easy (299 comments)

No, that does not work. The Scalable Game Design project - discussed in the article - is specifically addressing the problem of broadening participation, e.g., the lack of interest in CS by girls. In other words, the lack of interest is precisely the problem. Our research (with over 10,000 students from all around the USA) suggests that MOST students, boys and girls, CAN be interested in CS through games and can advance from games from STEM simulations. Also, Scalable Game Design is a curriculum, not an afterschool program, that has been integrated into middle schools and even some elementary schools. The key is to 1) find time in existing curriculum to get started (e.g., in keyboarding and powerpointing types of courses) and to 2) transition to relevant STEM topics by teaching kids how to create science simulations. This is part of the new Next Generation Science Standards.

about a year ago
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Study Shows Professors With Tenure Are Worse Teachers

the agent man Occam's razor (273 comments)

how about an even simpler explanation: tenured faculty tend NOT to teach introductory courses. If they do then typically they have to because there is nobody else willing or capable. The result: a less than completely excited teacher.

about a year ago
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Google Releases Raspberry Pi Web Dev Teaching Tool

the agent man Re:pi (68 comments)

This makes NO sense for kids in classrooms. Without the ability to run silly but required pieces of software (including the new US testing SW) and Wifi students would need a Raspberry Pi IN ADDITION to some Mac or PC. Quite simply, this is not going to happen because it would mean schools would have to spend more without getting more.

about a year ago
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PCWorld Magazine Is No More

the agent man Re:No worries (164 comments)

or how about "Post-PCWorld" ?

about a year and a half ago
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Silicon Valley In 2013 Resembles Logan's Run In 2274

the agent man does NOT resemble (slight Math problem) (432 comments)

The Loga's Run world, with a maximum age of 30, would represent of median age of 15. Compared to Silicon Valley, with a median age of about 30, this would be half. Does not compute. Conclusion: Silicon Valley in 2013 DOES NOT Resemble Logan's Run In 2274

about a year and a half ago

Submissions

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Getting more girls interested in programming

the agent man the agent man writes  |  about 10 months ago

the agent man (784483) writes "A Colorado Public Radio/NPR piece describes a group of computer scientists and educators from the University of Colorado (CU) at Boulder exploring what it takes to get more girls interested in computer science. In spite of many educational efforts the participation of women in computing jobs is still low. The strategy explored by the Scalable Game Design project is to bring a game design based approach into the classroom by training teachers. The CU team's work to get girls interested in computer science is part of a large scale, long-term project to increase engagement among all underserved populations such as low income students, minorities and rural communities. Interestingly, the key to get more girls excited about computer science is not only to come up with more creative "projects" than, say, computing prime numbers, but to have teachers employ pedagogies so that the teacher and the students explore and solve the problems of creating a game together. The project has brought Scalable Game Design to schools across Colorado, as well as internationally and is collecting student-created games in an online arcade."
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Excite kids to code by focusing less on coding

the agent man the agent man writes  |  about a year ago

the agent man (784483) writes "The Hour of Code event taking place December 9-15 has produced a number of tutorials with the goal to excite 10 millions kids to code. It is really interesting to contrast the different pedagogical approaches behind the roughly 30 tutorials. The University of Colorado, Make a 3D Game, Tutorial wants to excite kids to code by focusing less on coding. This pedagogy is based on the idea that coding alone, without non-coding creativity, has a hard time to attract computer science skeptics including a high percentage of girls who think that "programming is hard and boring." Instead, the Make a 3D Game activity has the kids create sharable 3D shapes and 3D worlds in their browsers which then they really want to bring to live — through coding. There is evidence that this strategy works. The article talks about the research exploring how kids get not only excited through game design but that they can later leverage coding skills acquired to make science simulations. Try the activity by yourself or with your kids."
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Teach Our Kids to Code

the agent man the agent man writes  |  about a year ago

the agent man (784483) writes "WIRED Magazine is exploring how early kids should learn to code. One of the challenges is to find the proper time in schools to teach programming. Are teachers at elementary and middle school levels really able to teach this subject? The article suggests that even very young kids can learn to program and list a couple of early experiments as well as more established ideas including the Scalable Game Design curriculum. However, the article also suggests that programming may have to come at the cost of Foreign language learning and music. Judging by the comments this idea is not so well received."
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The Sustainability of CS Education Through Game Design

the agent man the agent man writes  |  about 2 years ago

the agent man (784483) writes "Researchers at the University of Colorado have been running the worlds largest study exploring how to integrate computer science education through game design in public schools. Over 10,000 students (45% women) from some of the most diverse, most isolated, toughest and poorest schools in the USA participated in making games and STEM simulations. The researchers have developed a strategy to reach an extraordinarily high percentage of students by making game design based computer science education part of existing “computing” middle school courses. Sadly these courses typically focus on rather boring topics such as keyboarding and gaining Microsoft Office skills. Instead of just exposing a handful of self-selected students in after school programs the curriculum called Scalable Game Design exposes a large number of students (in some middle schools 350 students per year, per school) to computer science. The focus of the paper presented at the 2013 SIGCSE conference and part of the National Science Foundation showcase is the exploration of sustainability. If federal grants are used to train and support teachers, how likely will it be for schools participating in the research to continue or even move beyond the goals of the training once the support stops? How many of the schools start with game design and later manage to transfer these skills to STEM simulation creation? The data collected over a period of four years and with more than 10,000 games and simulations produced by students suggests that 81% of schools have advanced beyond the basic requirement. That is, teachers and students have created more, and in most cases more advanced, games and simulations than they were trained to do. Researchers also analyzed motivational and skill data to investigate interaction between pedagogy and motivation relevant to broadening participation and to look for evidence of transfer between game design and science simulation creation. Scalable Game Design is based on the AgentSheets and AgentCubes game design and simulation creation tools."
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Build Video Games and Simulations, Learn Science

the agent man the agent man writes  |  more than 2 years ago

the agent man writes "A number of schools use video game design as motivational approach to get students interested in computer science and programming. This school is starting with video game design as well but moves on to have students build science simulations. [article: http://www.dailycamera.com/boulder-county-schools/ci_21294144 video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v56pIM1xMMM%5D Research exploring the broadening of participation in computer science education has been suggesting this approach for some time: http://cacm.acm.org/magazines/2012/5/148567-programming-goes-back-to-school/fulltext Moreover, data from over 10,000 games and simulations analyzed appears to suggest that game design is more than just a motivational activity. Students picking up computational thinking concepts gained from making games can apply them to science simulation building. In other words, game design in schools can actually be a useful educational skill."
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Programing now starting in Elementary Schools

the agent man the agent man writes  |  more than 2 years ago

the agent man writes "The idea of getting kids interested in programming in spite of their common perception of programming to be "hard and boring" is an ongoing Slashdot discussion. With support of the National Science Foundation the Scalable Game Design project has explored how to bring computer science education into the curriculum of middle and high schools for some time. The results are overwhelmingly positive suggesting that game design is not only highly motivational across gender and ethnicity but even finding new ways of tracking programing skills transferring from game design to STEM simulation building. This NPR story highlights an early and unplanned foray into brining game design based computer science education even to Elementary Schools. A short story includes a nice video of students sharing their experiences."
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Programming is Heading Back to School

the agent man the agent man writes  |  more than 3 years ago

the agent man writes "Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder are exploring what it takes to systematically get programming back to public schools. They have created a game design based curriculum, called Scalable Game Design, using the AgentSheets computational thinking tool. Annual summer institutes http://www.9news.com/news/local/article/202987/222/Teachers-play-video-games-for-science- train middle schools teachers from from around the USA to teach their students computational thinking through game design and computational science simulations.

What is truly unique about this is that it is not an after-school program; it takes place during regular school courses. Entire school districts are participating with measurable impacts, increasing the participation of women in high school CS courses from 2% six years ago to 38-59% now. The project explores new computing education pedagogies with thousands of students in diverse areas including inner city, remote rural and Native American communities. About 45% of our participants so far are female; 56% are non-white students and most of them want to continue. Educators are interested not only in the motivational impact, but also the acquisition of useful 21st Century skills. They would like to be able to ask students “Now that you can make Space Invaders, can you also make a science simulation?” To explore this difficult question of transfer, the researchers devised new mechanisms to compute computational thinking. They analyze every game submitted by students to extract computational thinking patterns and to see if students can transfer these skills to creating science simulations.

More information about Scalable Game Design can be found in their project site: http://scalablegamedesign.cs.colorado.edu/"

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