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Using the AIBOs in a CS1 course

Using the AIBOs in a CS1 course

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Using the AIBOs in a CS1 course

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  1. Using the AIBOs in a CS1 course John Chilton and Maria Gini Dept of CSE, University of Minnesota

  2. Outline • Our CS1 course • Why use the AIBO in a CS1 course? • Educational objectives • Details on software and assignment • Evaluation

  3. Our CS1 course • The course is taken mostly by freshmen • The course is based on Scheme • 120-130 students a semester. • 3 hours lecture and a 2 hours lab done in smaller groups • The course is part of a 3-years project to improve learning in large classes by using active learning and group activities

  4. Why use the AIBO in a CS1 course? • Making the material fun and interesting to encourage students to major in CS • Students think that Scheme is abstract, esoteric, and has limited value. By showing they can use it to control the AIBO they see it can be used for a broad set of applications

  5. Educational Objectives: Collaboration and Competition • Engage the students, make them active learners, build a sense of belonging to a group • Cooperation is more than working together, it requires a common goal and motivation • Competition between groups creates the common goal – winning • Everyone received full credit for participation. Group rewarded with extra credit for winning teams and pride.

  6. Details on assignment • Two hours lab, 7-8 students per team • Each team had to make the AIBO to dance and demonstrate the dance. Peers voted on a winner • Use an agenda data structure (a table with times and events stored in queues) to add delays between actions and to sequence the actions. Actions can add other actions to the agenda. • Students could • Control the LEDs on the dog face • Motions -- walk, rotate, sit, stand, pounce – and control individual joints • Produce sounds and play music

  7. Software • Server side implementation for remote wireless communication with AIBO, called A MOdular Remote AIBO Interface (AMORAI) • The AMORAI server framework is implemented as a collection of Tekkotsu behaviors, each which listens or write to a port. • The client side AMORAI application is implemented in Guile. It uses the AIBO IP address to connect with the socket that listens to the AIBO.

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  9. Student Engagement • Students found the lab fun and engaging • Noise level was up • Spontaneous group activities, drawing at the white board, discussing with team mates

  10. Software available at For more information email

  11. Educational objectives • Increase confidence by hands-on programming • Solve real world problems • Work in groups • Combine collaboration with competition We want to address some of the issues that affect recruiting and retention in CS programs, by:

  12. Evaluation • A questionnaire was given to the students directly after the activity. In response to the question, ``Do you have any thoughts you would be willing to share about the lab? Was it fun?'', a great majority (83 out of 97) indicated they enjoyed the lab, 12 did not answer the question and only two students wrote that they disliked the lab. • In an anonymous course evaluation in response to a similar question, 52 out of 56 students indicated they enjoyed the lab, two students did not respond, and again only two students disliked the lab.