There's no doubt that some topics in the Computing curriculum can be as dry as dust. But one way to engage pupils might be to have them write a short story. This could be a good way of telling whether a pupil understood a particular concept, of generating some interesting reads for the school website or magazine, and even for collaboration with colleagues.
You could also use this idea to generate some blog content -- either your own blog or your school's.
Just off the top of my head, here are a few suggestions. They all begin with the question, "What if...?"
- A self-drive car could take wider decisions -- like not allowing you to go to a drive-in fast food outlet?
- A connected home hadn't been programmed correctly, so that there was an infinite loop: every time you entered it set the alarm for going out, but every time you went out it thought you were in and so set no alarm at all?
- All job placements were decided by artificial intelligence, with no human being involved in any part of the process -- except for the applicant.
- There was no way of telling whether your colleagues were human or robots? Would that actually matter, and if so, how and why?
- Robots started to demand human rights?
- Most people preferred "living" in a virtual world rather than the real one?
- Someone who had lost their voice because of a cold was unable to log in to their voice-activated bank account to pay a ransom demand?
Some of these ideas have already been explored by science-fiction writers, and I doubt that it will be long before we read some of them in the news. But my aim here wasn't to dig out other writers' efforts or to try to predict the future, only to suggest some ideas for short-story writing as a way of helping pupils engage with some aspects of the curriculum.
One of my own short-story writing efforts may be found here: The Big Sweep. No, I won't give up the day job!
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