An Embodied, Augmented Reality Coding Platform for Pair Programming
Augmented reality (AR) allows the real world to be enhanced, or augmented, by computer-generated objects that are “added” to the real world. For example, a clothing store may use AR to allow a customer to “see” how clothes would look on them before they are purchased. This project at University of California San Diego will use AR to create an environment in which students can practice pair programming in an AR environment. Pair programming is a software development technique in which two programmers work together at one workstation, on the same piece of code. Wearing AR headsets, students will be able to manipulate, in three-dimensional space, using familiar gestures such as pointing and grabbing, a piece of code. The use of a AR programming environment, that immerses students in their code, will result in a more intuitive and collaborative computing experience that will engage learners with low confidence in programming, while supporting growth in their computational thinking abilities. A human-centered AR coding platform will be developed for the creation of three-dimensional assets, artwork, and computational logic. This platform will be a merged digital/physical workspace where spatial representations of code, interactive outputs, and user editing activities are simultaneously located. While wearing AR headsets, learners will manipulate virtual code blocks in real space to assemble programs, and they will debug their code by evaluating the representations that they create. The approach will build on the accessibility and sense of play in successful visual learning technologies (e.g., Scratch), but will leverage regular patterns of perception, action, and social interaction in the three-dimensional physical world. The goal is to increase participation and interest in groups traditionally underrepresented in the educational and career pathways of computer science, including females and some minority students, who often exhibit lower confidence in STEM-related abilities relative to other students. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.