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eToys to teach programming 1

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 2 months ago

I have used Squeak for teaching introductory programming to university students in a open course in the Science Faculty in the Javeriana University. In this course we work with students of different semesters and disciplines and Squeak was a nice solution to the problems that we face in the transition for a close course for only Informatics ("computer science") students to an open one. Previously we have tried Scheme and Python with good results, but in a more open environment like this one, squeak works better for us.

 

This was the route we following (most of the students has no prior programming experience or vocabulary).

 

  • We start with some context and background information about Squeak history. In my own experience, knowing the history, the "whys", lets you know more motivated about the language itself and its "what for"s

 

  • We continue with the World metaphor, just seing quickly how this works.

 

  • Then we create a presentation over any theme the students choose using the bookmorph. That was nice because in established "continuity" between the rest of the world and the classroom. Students could see how Squeak could help them with the activities they are already doing with computers in some different way, giving them added value at the same time we some concepts about aggregation, inheritance and encapsulation in this activity, in that way we're not having and split between concepts and their everyday application. Some of the students start to use Squeak to make living presentations in other classes with pretty good results (their teachers only knew Power Point, so that presentations of my students were visually appealing over the ones of their classmates and even their teachers).

 

  • After that we start with small scripts which just change the behavior of few object and they start to enjoy "Drag & Drop Programming" in squeak, they understand the basic concepts, can use them, but they're not afraid of the code.

 

  • Then we go for a more difficult task reproducing their first Etoy, with the game of addings, again the idea is to see what others create with squeak and then they make their own Etoy. In this, they start to see how the code works behind scenes and we start with grammar and syntax of Squeak, starting to show how elegantly smalltalk implements the ideas of OOP with its easy to understand syntax and the idea of Object + Messages.

 

Because this was a preliminary experience, finding the path takes time and that's where we come this time, in the next semester I hope to see some active essays also and more syntax.

 

As you see, we're working at the same time with concepts and programming, correlated one with other, in a progressive way and squeak is a so rich environment that you can choose the path you like, even with no prior knowledge or vocabulary. Finding your way could take you time, but the nice thing about community is that we're here to share experience, making, maybe, things easier for you.

 

Some documentation about the experience, including readings and activities can be found here (is in spanish, but hey, we, the spanish speakers, are reading english centered documentation almost all the time, so is time to produce local language docs):

 

http://www.eduwiki.info/IntroduccionInformatica/Squeak/Actividades

http://www.eduwiki.info/IntroduccionInformatica/Squeak

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