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Chatbot Instructor Page

The goal of the Chatbot program is to get students motivated about Computer Science. The program gives students a small taste of what computing can do as they build their own chatbots. The introductory material should be taught as a class so all the students begin at the same spot. Afterwards, the students are encouraged to go at their own pace through the tutorial. Before starting each day, the instructors should go over the basic topics learned during the previous day. Each student should get plenty of one on one time with the instructors.

Because programming is very technical and hard work the instructors should intersperse the agenda other activities such as interviews with blind and low-vision role models in the computing field and Computer Science Unplugged activities .

Sample Chatbot Program Schedule

The schedule below was for the 2009 NFB YouthSlam Conference. The instructors had a week to teach the students about chatbots. There were two days that had Computer Science Unplugged activities and three mentors to speak to the students. Excluding the first day, the instructors had about 3 hours per day with the students.

  • Day 1 (6 hours): Introductions. Overview of the week. Computer and IM account Set-up. Create simple chatbots.
  • Day 2 (3 hours): Concepts needed to write programs: variables, expressions if-then, if-then-else, calling functions for web services, simple regular expressions. All these were done by giving IM chatbot examples. Students worked at their own pace progressing through the student tutorial. Students begin building chatbots similar to the examples. Interview with first role model (30 mintues).
  • Day 3 (3 hours): Students begin working on their own personal chatbots with assistance from instructors. Interview with second role model (30 minutes). Computer Science Unplugged activity (30 minutes).
  • Day 4 (3 hours): Students continue working on their own personal chatbots with assistance from instructors. Interview with third role model (30 minutes).
  • Day 5 (3 hours): Students complete and demonstrate their chatbots. Computer Science Unplugged Activity (30 minutes). Closing presentation on careers in computing (20 minutes).

Specifics of the Chatbot Code

If you would like to add another global variable to remember state, open up UserBot.cs and find "state". Just copy and paste the varible's code and rename the variable.

Issues that still need to be tested or resolved

  1. Figure out the problem when TextPad says blank after "edit, type in text" when using JAWS with Textpad (happens on some computers)
  2. How to access history with JAWS and Window Live Messenger (says blanks and typing alt + message number doesn't jump to that message)
  3. Fix at XihSolutions.DotMSN.NSMessageHandler.HandleMessage(IMessageProcessor sender, NetworkMessage message) Nameserver exception (may not be fixable since the issue may lie in the .dll file, which hasn't been updated for a very long time)
  4. Set up JAWS settings - see how they work. Add JAWS preferences where all punctuation should be stated (since commas get skipped). Caps should also be said in JAWS so that case sensitive variables are differentiated. Does JAWS say the HTML of a page?

This work is supported by the following National Science Foundation Grants: CNS-087508, CNS-0549481, IIS-0811884, IIS-0415273
Send comments to Richard Ladner