Additional profile information on Alfred Thompson at Google+
Nicole, from the MSN Messenger group (Windows Live Messenger?), has a blog entry about some existing Bots that you can use from MSN Messenger and some suggestions of Bots she would like to see. You may have already heard about the Encarta® Instant Answers BOT (Encarta@conversagent.com ), that lets you ask questions which it then looks up for you in Encarta. Nicole lists a whole bunch more. Her blog is worth reading for that alone. But it gets better.
The idea of talking to a computer and getting answers that appear to come from a real person has long been the goal of computer programmers everywhere. It looks like now there is the chance for a lot more of us to try that sort of program out for ourselves.
Conversagent, in partnership with Microsoft, is making a free license available to their BuddyScript Software Development Kit (SDK) for creating BOTs and what are called Activity applications so that people can create their own BOTs.
Think about writing a BOT that answers question about your school? Or perhaps reports back on the scores of sports teams? How about a BOT that people can ask if there is a snow day? Well, that may be more useful where I live than some other places. But you get the idea.
This may very well be a good project for a student or team of students. And if they make a very good one Conversagent may wave the normal six month limit on the license. At the very least they can try to make a BOT that gets their friends to wonder if it is a BOT or a real person they are talking to?
The Advanced Placement Computer Science program has always used a large case study as part of the materials that students need to learn. I’ve always liked the idea of a case study because it exposes students to a project that is larger than what they can create themselves. Students have to understand a more complex set of relationships. Changes to one area of the case study may require changes in a different area. Or worse, they may introduce breaking issues. This makes a case study a good learning tool.
Over at the forums at MainFunction, an online community site for high school computer science teachers, teachers are discussing how they are using the MBS (as it is called to those in the know) in their classrooms. Students are creating interesting “fish” and really having some fun while they are learning.
If you are an AP CS teacher I recommend you check out this thread.