NOTE: This is the latest in a series of question-and-answer stories featuring faculty members who are integrating the Niagara 2022 Canada Games into the courses they teach at Brock University or the research they’re leading. For more information on Brock’s academic activities around the Games, visit brocku.ca/canada-games
Naser Ezzati-Jivan is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science in the Faculty of Mathematics and Science. His research is in the area of software engineering, software debugging and performance evaluation. His teaching is closely linked to these subject areas and covers topics such as software engineering, software performance analysis, database management and operating systems.
What is your Canada Games-related course title, code and description?
The course I am focusing on for the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games is Software Engineering II (COSC 4P02). During this course, teams of students work on a long-term development project using methodologies learned during Software Engineering I (COSC 4P01). The course is designed to allow students to gain experience in a realistic development environment with common practices such as the AGILE method, while also learning valuable programming techniques that are useful for software development. It is offered as a fourth-year course, encouraging a diverse group of experiences as the group members have selected different electives and had different working experiences, which in turn provides a more unique and realistic environment.
Describe how you’ve integrated Canada Games-related material into your course?
For this year’s COSC 4P02 project, students were given the task of developing a chatbot application for the Canada Games and Brock University. A chatbot is a type of software that allows the user to talk to it, usually through a text-based interface, and receive responses to questions and comments made. For the Canada Games, this chatbot would be able to answer questions about the Games themselves, such as scheduling or location-related questions, and provide a wealth of information related to the various athletes and teams participating.
Why do you think the Canada Games presents such a good opportunity for students at Brock?
The Canada Games is a major event being run with connections to Brock University, which allows students to work on projects with real-world applications. This presents an opportunity for students to see the Games as an opening to have an impact on their community through these events. The design of COSC 4P02 this year was done in such a way that it allows the students to serve as software developers working for a client that has requested an application with specific features and timelines. This gives students a very real development experience while allowing them to learn about different technologies and integrate them as part of the development cycle. The chatbot was chosen because it can be beneficial for the Games and uses software that requires a variety of valuable programming skills, such as data scraping, database management, artificial intelligence and natural language processing.
Do you have any suggestions for ways your colleagues can use the Games to enhance teaching and learning opportunities in their courses?
Other professors at Brock University can utilize the Canada Games in similar ways to provide real-world scenarios to students engaged in coursework that could benefit from a very modern and relevant event. Project courses can benefit from this especially well, as using an external event such as the Canada Games provides a very practical project that one could see outside of a school setting, helping to provide a more hands-on education experience. In addition, finding meaningful ways to integrate the Canada Games into coursework and research will allow students to learn more about the event and its importance. The Games present a unique opportunity for research particularly, as there will be a lot of data to collect, allowing data-driven projects to have a wealth of information to take from. This can include analytics, pattern analysis, machine learning and many other different types of data-driven research and developmental projects.
Once the Games are finished, how do you plan to continue using this new idea in your course?
The idea to use a chatbot as the COSC 4P02 project itself may have been born for use with the Canada Summer Games; however, the merits of this type of software and its development being used as an education tool will be able to continue. Students this year were given the choice between working on a Brock University version of the chatbot, or the Canada Games version, and both of these chatbots had many common features. It is our hope that we can continue to build out this chatbot, through the COSC 4P02 course, to eventually provide a wealth of information for Brock University, the surrounding Niagara region and any future events in the area.
For more information about COSC 4P02, please contact Ezzati-Jivan at firstname.lastname@example.org