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Computers, Making, Music, and Design

Gold, N; Purves, R; Himonides, E; (2019) Computers, Making, Music, and Design. Presented at: Computational Sciences for the 21st Century: 3rd UCL eResearch Domain Symposium, London, UK. Green open access

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Abstract

Equipping young people in the UK with the right computing skills for the 21st century is a challenge. There has been considerable emphasis in recent years on coding in the school curriculum, something that is positive for the future of computational science as students entering university will be better prepared for computational thinking and building computational systems, whatever their primary discipline. The scale of code that can be reasonably produced within a school context is limited and thus restricts the ability to convey the kind of concepts that will be needed for developing large scale systems e.g. abstraction, information hiding, design issues, separation of concerns, parallelism, messaging, and peer to peer and client-server architectures. Some coding curricula may touch on these concepts but there are opportunities to bring them to the fore and hopefully sensitise students to them more systematically, in the long run impacting and improving the quality of software created for computational science. We present a current project that aims to achieve this using an interdisciplinary approach in which we draw on making, music, and play. The approach draws on educational theories such as 'constructionism' (Papert, 1991) and 'just in time learning' (Baruah, 2013) which emphasise play and exploratory learning. The project will lead students through both free and directed construction of various Lego(TM) models. These will make sound initially through their inherent and mechanical properties and will then be modified to leave the physical control within the model but produce sound using a software synthesiser. The intention is to stimulate students' thinking about the issues involved in designing systems through motivating activities that contain similar problems but use different skills in their solution. The migration from physical system to cyber-physical system serves in itself to delineate the conceptual spaces of control and action: spaces bound together in a mechanical/physical instrument but separable and amenable to abstract representation in a computational/physical one. From an interdisciplinary standpoint, the collaboration between educational and computational specialists has informed design and feasibility judgements, e.g. an early prototype instrument emerged as far too complex to build in a realistic timescale. Pragmatic consideration of the classroom setting has aided subsequent prototyping and workshop design and is ensuring that the envisaged learning activities address not only the Computing National Curriculum but also Music and Design and Technology subject requirements in rich and engaging ways. In the process, our interdisciplinary collaboration is generating useful design prototypes for new interfaces for musical expression which may have applications more generally within the creative industries. Baruah, H.K. (2013). 'Just-in-Time Learning', IOSR Journal Of Humanities And Social Science 12(4): 53-57. Papert, S (1991). ‘Situating Constructionism’, in I Harel & S Papert (eds.), Constructionism. New York: Ablex.

Type: Poster
Title: Computers, Making, Music, and Design
Event: Computational Sciences for the 21st Century: 3rd UCL eResearch Domain Symposium
Location: London, UK
Dates: 20 June 2019
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/research/domains/eresearch/e...
Language: English
Keywords: Computer Science, Software Engineering, Music, Design, Making
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Computer Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10076570
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