Monday, 20 November 2017

Computer Science Internationalization - Teaching Excellence for Student Success

The Higher Education Academy have initiated a debate on Teaching Excellence for Student Success and are inviting comments Below are my comments which I sent them a couple of weeks ago.

Computer Science departments should be teaching students how to build software for the world ie they should be internationalising their curricula. I am a long time practitioner of internationalised Computer Science teaching. I do though appear to be a solitary voice. Industry, on the other hand, is building software for the world and needs Computer Scientists with Global Skills.

Over the years, the Global Skills I have taught students include:

① Internationalisation and Localisation of software
② Character sets
③ Unicode and Unicode encodings
④ Internationalising websites and building Adaptive Internationalised websites
⑤ Usage of language tags
⑥ Fonts - glyph variants and relationship to Unicode
⑦ Keyboard Mappings and Input Methods
⑧ Internationalised Domain Names & Internationalised Email Addresses
⑨ Unicode Regular Expressions
⑩ Characteristics of English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Arabic languages/scripts

One misconception is that one needs to know multiple (human) languages in order to build software for the world. Not necessary. But one does need to have an understanding of the characteristics of (human) languages/scripts, for example:

• Chinese and Japanese do not have spaces separating words
• Arabic is written right to left
• Korean Hangeul letters, Jamo, are joined into syllabic blocks
• ...etc...

If one wants to internationalise Computer Science Curricula the obvious thing to do is to teach students Global Skills, as above.

Let me give an example. If you look at you will see that up to and including slide 10, I am using ASCII regex patterns and strings. If you search the internet you will find thousands of regex examples using ASCII only. Now go to slide 11 and suddenly the regex world changes dramatically. In slide 11, I have Chinese and Emoji text. Fast forward to slide 33 and you will see Egyptian Hieroglyphs.

In addition to making students World Ready, internationalising Computer Science Curricula makes for a richer and more interesting subject.

Time for Computer Science Departments to embrace the world by teaching students Global Skills.