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Credits go to bamccaig, Edgar Reynaldo, FrankyR, James Stanley, Johan Halmén, Matthew Leverton, SiegeLord, Slartibartfast, TestSubject, Thomas Fjellstrom, and Thomas Harte for helping out!
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Computer Programming Educational Software 20 Questions:
Thomas Harte
Member #33
April 2000
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Oh, don't rely on the instructors to know anything. I'll be willing to bet that most lessons will be taught by PE teachers. If you want to make something that will be taught well in schools then signpost everything down to the contents and timing of individual lessons.

EDIT: or, of course, gym teachers as they're known in the USA.

Matthew Leverton
Supreme Loser
January 1999
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Quote:

EDIT: or, of course, gym teachers as they're known in the USA.

Around here, we call them PE teachers, but it probably varies across different regions.

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I agree, I personally think software development is a horrible profession to get into: sit in a cube all day and try to be miracle worker and read peoples minds to try and determine what they really want.

Amen. And you want to encourage kids to get into that field. Pure evil!

Quote:

hey this programming is pretty easy, I could get a job doing this or... be a Lawyer! Yeah!

But it's not easy to be good at it.

If you want to give kids a fair representation of programming, then a substantial part of the environment needs to be about real programming in real code. But if you are looking to make a sale, then call up some educators and see what they want to see. After all, that's who you would have to end up pleasing.

And yes, those are two distinct things. You can either make a program that you believe in but have a very hard time selling it because you have to persuade someone that it's really what they need—or you can just give them what they want, take their money, and laugh knowing it has no real benefit for the kids.

Most successful niche businesses do the latter.

Thomas Harte
Member #33
April 2000
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Quote:

hey this programming is pretty easy, I could get a job doing this or... be a Lawyer! Yeah!

I missed this comment, but I somehow feel like I should say something to respond to it. Ummm, I actually found that obtaining my legal qualifications required skills in common with my computer science qualifications, specifically being able to understand a system from top to bottom and reason as to the conditions that can lead to different outcomes.

Quote:

But if you are looking to make a sale, then call up some educators and see what they want to see. After all, that's who you would have to end up pleasing.

Speaking of which, at least in California there is an official procurement system for textbooks that requires your textbooks to teach to standards predefined by the state. You should check out if anything similar applies to the sort of product you want to sell — if so then what you or I think the product should comprise is completely irrelevant.

nonnus29
Member #2,606
August 2002
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Thanks for the input everyone. You've given me a lot to think about. Cookies to ALL!

BAF
Member #2,981
December 2002
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Quote:

It seems Visual Studio can be obtained fairly cheaply [softwareselect.co.uk].

Or free...

SaraJo
Member #9,828
May 2008
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My brother who is now 15 took an educational programming language class. Something called Jaroo? I couldn't find it online but I think its great to get kids thinking logically esp to see if its somehting they enjoy.

I took a C++ class in HS and it was confirmation to me that programming was where I was meant to be.

Johan Henriksson
Member #11
April 2000
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I remember when I started learning programming. I went to my library and grabbed all the books they had, which included everything from Forth to Algol. However, the first interpreter I got my hands on was qbasic and so I learned basic instead. it is a pity no such environment is bundled but then, qbasic would not do the trick today. whatever system is there, it has to be a somewhat comparable distraction to ordinary games. I started writing text screen based RPG's but today that is a no-go. here are the requirements for a kid oriented language:

1 graphics must be available and easy to reach
2 minimal syntax
3 easy memory management => garbage collection
4 powerful base language, a lot of work done with little code

3 & 4 shoots down C/C++. 2 shoots down perl (and certainly alsa Ada if you have such a fetish). 4 shoots down D. 1 gives many modern languages a headache as having much too high a threshold.

ruby and python end up being my primary candidates. next java+lwjgl when a certain threshold is acceptable, and they can survive all the syntax. it's a pity haskell lack low-threshold libraries, otherwise it is another primary candidate (the emphasis on functions and strict typing gives it an edge). C comes later, and C++ should only be studied for historical reasons if at all.

Dustin Dettmer
Member #3,935
October 2003
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Matthew said:

And yes, those are two distinct things. You can either make a program that you believe in but have a very hard time selling it because you have to persuade someone that it's really what they need—or you can just give them what they want, take their money, and laugh knowing it has no real benefit for the kids.

*sigh* yes this battle is what I find most frustrating about all new types of software (not just educational).

Sara Chipps said:

I took a C++ class in HS and it was confirmation to me that programming was where I was meant to be.

Your highschool offered C++? Man I'm jealous, all I had was an "HTML" class where we learned a single pixel in the corner of an image could install cookies, track your computer usage and install viruses with malware.

Matthew said:

There's a big difference in being excited about programming and being excited about seeing results. Even as a child, I was in the first category.

Interesting... Yeah I've noticed the same distribution as well.

I've noticed a hell of a lot of kids getting excited about the career lately too... they never want to hear complex details of their assignments and strive to memorize answers for their tests -- which they'll forget shortly afterwards. There are so many of them they bring down the curve and they all graduate.

Anyway, I'd say I'm a weird mix of the first and the second kind. It was the second motivation that got me in but the first kind that kept me there.

Slartibartfast
Member #8,789
June 2007
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Quote:

Your highschool offered C++? Man I'm jealous, all I had was an "HTML" class where we learned a single pixel in the corner of an image could install cookies, track your computer usage and install viruses with malware.

Here our highschools offer:
1) C/Pascal* + HTML + Javascript + ASP
2) VB.NET/C#* + Access
Each counts for 5 points towards your Bagrut
I ended up taking both + physics (another 5 units)

*-choice between the two is up to the highschool. I got C and VB.NET.

Erikster
Member #9,510
February 2008
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Our high school offers VB.NET 1&2, and Java for an IB class. That's about it.

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Johan Halmén
Member #1,550
September 2001

Quote:

Your highschool offered C++? Man I'm jealous, all I had was an "HTML" class

No Variables?

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Dustin Dettmer
Member #3,935
October 2003
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Hah! They might as well have taught Variables.

james_lohr
Member #1,947
February 2002

My highschool, despite going under the name of a "technology college" offered nothing programming related. About the closest you could get was building a circuit in crocodile clips in a "Systems and Control" GCSE. Now that I think about it, it was pretty appalling.

My first language was C which was taught to me during lunch breaks by a friend of my brother who was two years above me. He was taught by a German pen-friend. In my school of more than 2000 there was noone else into programming, but I suppose that's the Westcountry for you.

I had no internet and no books, but still managed to get a platform game going after ...about a year. I still remember the day he showed me how to get into mode 13h (320x200) and how excited I was about getting home to try it out. ;D

Seems like I'm one of the few who wasn't tainted by BASIC. 8-)

bamccaig
Member #7,536
July 2006
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MiquelFire
Member #3,110
January 2003
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I was tainted by BASIC, but I had TI-86 ASM to set me right.

Can you imagine using ASM tricks for more speed in BASIC? :P

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Vanneto
Member #8,643
May 2007

Quote:

My highschool, despite going under the name of a "technology college" offered nothing programming related. About the closest you could get was building a circuit in crocodile clips in a "Systems and Control" GCSE. Now that I think about it, it was pretty appalling.

Same here.

My first language was PHP. I learned it extensively and is now the language that I can actually make money with. ( OK, combined with HTML/CSS/JS etc.)

Then, I wanted to learn C++. I went to the University library and checked out like 4 - 5 books at a time about programming. It was great fun learning. Even writing the console shit. ;D

I never touched basic. My friend did, it was his first language, and now he has a very tough time learning C. Don't know if thats just him or because he learned basic first... :-/

In capitalist America bank robs you.

Arthur Kalliokoski
Second in Command
February 2005
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Quote:

Can you imagine using ASM tricks for more speed in BASIC?

I did it often, using CALL ABSOLUTE or some such. 300 times faster except for things like line() that called assembler routines anyway.

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Thomas Fjellstrom
Member #476
June 2000
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I wasnt tainted by Basic till several years after I learned C :D

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Neil Walker
Member #210
April 2000
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My days in front of a ZX Spectrum writing code are amongst the happiest I've had. Indeed the ZX Spectrum probably accounts for the large number of quality game studios prevalent (ignoring buyouts from the big publishers with no abilities other than asset stripping and marketing) in the UK.

btw, American's, you suck at soccer ;)

(mind you, so do we for not getting into Europe and having to play a couple of meaningless friendlies)

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Paul Pridham
Member #250
April 2000
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Quote:

I never touched basic. My friend did, it was his first language, and now he has a very tough time learning C. Don't know if thats just him or because he learned basic first...

Did his time spent riding a tricycle make it harder for him to learn to ride a bicycle?

Vanneto
Member #8,643
May 2007

Yes. When he was riding a tricycle he broke both his legs, that made it harder for him to learn to ride a bicycle because he could not use his legs for 5 years. :-/

In capitalist America bank robs you.

Paul Pridham
Member #250
April 2000
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What a clutz. Guess he should just stick to walking. ;)

Matthew Leverton
Supreme Loser
January 1999
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He has a hard time walking since he crawled first.

Thomas Harte
Member #33
April 2000
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Quote:

Can you imagine using ASM tricks for more speed in BASIC?

I have no need to. As someone who attended UK schools during the 80s and early-to-mid 90s, I am well acquainted with BBC BASIC, which includes a full multi-pass(1) inline assembler. Much better than the Spectrum's BASIC, which has no assembler whatsoever, and the rubbish Microsoft BASIC that shipped with C64s and MSXs, which doesn't even have drawing commands. Though the 128kb Spectrum probably has the best 8bit BASIC editing environment...

(1) though you have to programmatically flow over the bit of code with the assembly in multiple times to use the multi-pass feature.

Neil Walker
Member #210
April 2000
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Quote:

Spectrum's BASIC, which has no assembler whatsoever,

Obviously you haven't heard of the Spectrum's DATA statement, assembler is for girls ;)

Neil.
MAME Cabinet Blog / AXL LIBRARY (a games framework) / AXL Documentation and Tutorial

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