In the Media

Alice Middle East introduced in three schools
Haya H Al Muhannadi
/ Categories: In the Media

Alice Middle East introduced in three schools

An animation software designed to help primary and secondary school students learn the basics of computer programming is implemented in three schools as a pilot project.

A team of faculty and students from Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q) has recently introduced ‘Alice Middle East,’ a 3-D interactive educational animation software which teach     students how to apply logical thinking and problem solving techniques.

In learning to program, many students struggle with developing algorithms and figuring out how to apply problem solving techniques. ‘Alice’ enables students to learn these skills through 3D animations and storytelling.

Carnegie Mellon faculty have been taking the lead, by introducing Alice as a tool to engage students in computing and also by training teachers in Qatar’s schools to implement and integrate the new curriculum.

“We believe basic programming skills in a student’s primary and secondary education is essential for future areas of study and programs such as Alice are helping then efficiently grasp problem solving skills,” said Ilker Baybars, dean of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar yesterday at a press conference.

Alice was initially developed at the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg.

H H Sheikha Moza bint Nasser’s keen interest in ‘Alice’ in 2008, has prompted Carnegie Mellon faculty to explore the possibility of developing a version of Alice for the Middle East.

Funded by the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) National Priorities Research Programme, ‘Alice Middle East’ was first implemented in 2012 with an initial pilot program in AI Arqam Academy, a private English-speaking school in Doha.

Then the Supreme Education Council (SEC) has piloted ‘Alice Middle East’ since September 2014 in two independent schools, Ali bin Abi  Talib Independent School (year 8) and Khalid bin Waleed Independent School (year 8).

Alice was localised with 3D models relevant to Qatari culture making the student learning experience smooth.

Saquib Razak, assistant teaching professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon Qatar was tasked with the localisation of the existing US version of ‘Alice’ for the Middle East.

“The goal of the project is to make it easy for young students to explore computer science concepts through developing interesting 3-D animations that are both fun to create and educational. For ‘Alice Middle East’ we developed 3-D models relevant to Qatari culture, including camels, land cruisers and Zubarah fort, making the student learning experience more contextual and helping bridge what a student has learned in a school setting with their home culture. We have also developed a textbook for Arabic-speaking students,” said Razak.

Carnegie Mellon faculty are also tracking the students’ progress through in-depth analysis which will measure the impact ‘Alice’ has had upon their performance in fields such as computing, technology and math.

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