Do Robots Dream of Virtual Sheep: Rediscovering the "Karel the Robot" Paradigm for the "Plug&Play Generation"

This source preferred by Leigh McLoughlin and Eike Anderson

Authors: Anderson, E.F. and McLoughlin, L.

Start date: 15 November 2006

Pages: 92-96

We introduce ”C-Sheep”, an educational system designed to teach students the fundamentals of computer programming in a novel and exciting way. Recent studies suggest that computer science education is fast approaching a crisis - application numbers for degree courses in the area of computer programming are down, and potential candidates are put off the subject which they do not fully understand.

We address this problem with our system by providing the visually rich virtual environment of ”The Meadow”, where the user writes programs to control the behaviour of a sheep using our ”CSheep” programming language. This combination of the ”Karel the Robot” paradigm with modern 3D computer graphics techniques, more commonly found in computer games, aims to help students to realise that computer programming can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience and intends to help educators with the teaching of computer science fundamentals. Our mini-language-like system for computer science education uses a state of the art rendering engine offering features more commonly found in entertainment systems.

The scope of the mini-language is designed to fit in with the curriculum for the first term of an introductory computer program ming course (using the C programming language).

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