Prepare for Technology Generation: Programming Language – 2169期

Nowadays, people use internet to do things in all aspects of their life, such as checking information, looking for fun or commercial opportunities or making friends through social networking. However, what's behind the surface of Internet? In fact, when people click the website, thousands of codes are working together to build this internet world. “Programming language”(程式語言) is the element forming the computer software. It's worth mentioning that western countries are trying to put the course of programming language into the framework of the elementary school curriculum. More and more experts hold a faith that kids of the technology generation should learn the skill of “coding.” Equally in Taiwan, Ministry of Education(教育部) also expects to integrate the course of computational thinking(運算思維) into the school curriculum in a hope that this can help the young generation to be fully-prepared for this whole new net-world.

Recently, Ministry of Education(教育部) decided to include “computational thinking”(運算思維) into the “12-year compulsory education”(12年國教) in 2018. They think that people in this technology generation should learn programming language(程式語言) in order to deal with the ever changing world.

The course “computational thinking” does not mean that students have to learn codes and programming language thoroughly but make them more creative. “The concept of ‘computational thinking’ isn’t all about learning programming language, but also to attract people’s interest, who have the potential to use it,” said Director Weng(翁理事長). Programming language is a way to understand codes, but computational thinking is a method for people to think differently. This course has actually taken by other countries in the world since years ago. Therefore, we have been translating the documents from all over the world ever since we founded this association, SLAT(中華民國軟體自由協會).”

Although Director Weng and his crew devote themselves to the “programming language” for a long time, they still have a hard time popularizing this issue. “Since we are not the officials, the only thing we can do is assisting. However, we do have a suggestion about what the government should do. Due to the fact that not all of the people who study ‘computational thinking’ and ‘programming language’ are rich, the programs students use shouldn’t cost a lot of money. Instead, they should use ‘free software’(自由軟體) so that everyone can practice at home.” Director Weng thinks that we should help people at the bottom of the pyramid, not people at the top of the pyramid.

The courses “computational thinking” and “programming language” have been set up around the world, and we are about to be one of those countries. As we improve our education, people in the next generation will be more skillful and competitive.

Computer softwares are written in programming languages and are indispensible in our daily life. Many countries attach great importance to the programming education because programming languages are  not only the tools but can  also improve people's imagination and creativity. However, concering the programming education in Taiwan, children are still  taught to learn everything by rote. In order to change this situation, students from National Chiao Tung University(國立交通大學) set up a group named Papacode(程式老爹) and designed a coding game that stimulates children’s interest in programming languages, and the initial version of the table game is called HAIPA(海霸), which has already been tested in some elementary schools and kindergartens. There are two sides in this game. Children in both sides should try to figure out a route with their cards, using the concept of program designing to go through the traps and mazes set by the opposite side. Whoever gets to the enemy's camp wins the game.

Li Hsueh-cheng (李學誠), a group member of Papacode, said that programming education should not just belong to elite families,but everyone should enjoy the learning of coding knowledge. HAIPA is a game that can help build students’ interest in programming. He said, “Firstly, students in remote villages may not have computers and table games are much cheaper. Secondly, it’s very boring to learn coding in computer by ourselves, while HAIPA can be played together. Thirdly, many parents don’t want their kids to spend too much time surfing net on the computers and table games are better for children’s health.”

The first step to get the young kids to learn new things is to provide them some interesting games.“This table game is just a start, and Papacode will be a new brand. We will make teaching materials, coding courses and camp activities in the future,” said Li Hsueh-cheng.

Table game is a new type of game that is getting very popular in recent years. They are the games that are normally played on the table and do not rely on any electronic support. There are also some provided in Shih Hsin University Library(世新大學圖書館), which are played by many students.

Recently, several students of the National Chiao Tung University(交通大學) invented ”Papacode” a tabletop game that aims at teaching young kids how to code. Papacode makes the originally boring programming education more interesting by involving young kids into the process of learning and playing these table games, thereby making coding more   exciting and easy to learn.

And Li-Xiu-Zhi (李秀枝), who has contact with table game, also a student of SHU said that to her knowledge programming education is not interesting at all. When she heard recently that the students of Chiao Tung University have invented Papacode, she was really surprised. She thought  the ability to code is usually reserved for those who are considered extremely clever, but she realized that Papacode has combined the programming education and the table game together in a way that kids can easily learn how to code and their logical thinking and imagination are very much enhanced. Many young students have benefited greatly from this game.

Papacode is still in its early stage and there are many problems needed to be resolved. If can be improved, Papacode will attract more people to join this game.