Unicode in the Curriculum?

Julian Bradfield jcb+unicode at inf.ed.ac.uk
Thu Dec 31 12:58:44 CST 2015

On 2015-12-31, Andre Schappo <A.Schappo at lboro.ac.uk> wrote:

> I have been hitting my head against the Academic Brick Wall for
> years WRT getting IT i18n and Unicode on the curriculum and I am
> losing. I did teach a final year elective module on IT i18n but a
> few months ago my University dropped it. I am continually puzzled by
> the lack of interest University Computer Science departments have in
> i18n. I appear to be a solitary UK University Computer Science voice
> when it comes to i18n. 

Well, I'd say that it's not the business of Computer Science degrees
to teach specific technical skills. It's our business to help people
learn about the fundamentals of the subject, so that they can acquire
any specific skill on demand, and use that skill competently. In those
areas where we do teach specific skills (e.g. machine learning
techniques) we teach those that have some intellectual content to
them.  (This is why we don't teach programming languages as such - we
teach a programming language as a means of learning a programming

In my experience so far, using Unicode and doing i18n is not very
interesting (killingly boring, actually) from a purely CS technical
point of view, unless you happen to be one of the small minority who
enjoys script and font layout issues - the interesting bits of doing
i18n are in producing linguistically and culturally appropriate
messages, and that's where one should bring in experts, not expect
typical software developers to be able to do it.

If you still have the materials for your course, it would be
interesting to see how you managed to get an interesting (and
examinable!) course out of i18n.

I do in fact mention Unicode and i18n in my introductory programming
course (which is not for CS students), but all I say is "you should
know it's there, and if you become a competent programmer, then you
can read the manuals and tutorials to learn what you need".

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