1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

OCR GCSE Computing - Which language?

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by grgeorge, Jul 14, 2009.

  1. I am thinking about doing the pilot course at school but I am wondering what language people are think about using?
  2. You could do bits in Scratch, the rest we might well look at doing in Java using BlueJ. I suspect an easier way would be to use VB6, but this is both old fashioned and platform dependent - arguably doing students a disservice. It is, of course, a topic for much debate and I'm going to get in early and say you're all correct so stop bickering.
  3. HappyHippy - totally agree with most of your points - apart from the fact that scratch may be seem as dumbing down a little. That is not to say that it wont work for some. How do we view the computing GCSE though - ICT for most and computing for a more select few? Java and BlueJ or NetBeans all the way!
  4. The sample assessment materials included a Scratch task as part of the assessment...
  5. scruffycat

    scruffycat New commenter

    Thinking about it is well what about python? Someone has told me it is a good first language
  6. Python - $%^£ing hell!
    Do you like your pupils?
  7. I'm led to believe that Python IS a good first syntax-based programming language. Easier as a standalone tool that Java, but with out the GUIness of BlueJ (AFAIK). NB: I have never written a line of Python personally.
  8. DEmsley

    DEmsley New commenter

    How is the introduction of essential programming skills "dumbing down"?
    The fact that the interface is purely visual should in no way detract from the concepts being taught. Scratch is, IMHO, an excellent introduction to repetition, sequencing and selection.

    Yes. I think the vehicles analogy stands for ICT/Computing.
    Level 2 ICT: the ability to drive is essential for the vast majority of people
    Level 3 ICT: the ability to drive well because you intend to do it for a living
    Computing: understanding how a car works and can fix it when it doesn't, limited but very important market.
    MOST Importantly ICT != Computing. That's the key point we need to get across to people.
  9. You're a lucky man.
    I tried it, having read previous recommendations on here - it's revolting; all the appeal of coding java wih far less chance of ever using it for real.
    There is no point in it as an educational tool and I believe little point in it otherwise, too.
    VB painlessly teaches you the basic principles in half the time iteration, looping, selection, variables etc.
    Noone should be trying to produce coders of needlessly difficult languages at these qualification levels. The kids have other courses to pass.
    This is a VERY OLD debate on this forum and any discussion about
    programming languages is likely to awake the 'sleeping midget' auti, so
    best to leave it there.
    jamesmhunt likes this.
  10. DEmsley

    DEmsley New commenter

    Noone has mentioned the GreenFoot project yet. That looks like a useful and very viable option.
  11. Shame you find these languages difficult - but they still need teaching.

    Go for a compiled rather than interpreted language so that students have to really think about the programs that they write. Strongly typed languages will lead to fewer programs that look like they SHOULD work to the student, but actually contain errors.

    Looking at the specification and discussion from OCR so far, it needs to be a language whose file handling supports both serial and direct access files (more able students are expected to use efficient direct access methods to read a record, less able can use a less efficient trawl through a sequential file).
    jamesmhunt likes this.
  12. After looking around and reading the post about Greenfoot O am wondering if to go with Blue J. Any views?
    jamesmhunt likes this.
  13. Just to add to the debate as it is dear to my heart (programming that is), has anyone any experience with ALICE www.alice.org? have not tried it in anger yet but seems a pretty good tool for teaching the basis for programming.
    Just as to add input to the argument sorry I meant debate i am pretty new to education i.e. start a PGTT course from Sep but I do have recent educational experience in learning programming i.e. HNC/HND software eng followed by HOns degree level JAVA being my speciality.
    I started in C++ then on to VB6 finishing with JAVA. This I 'personally' found to be a good route to learning to programme with Pearl, ASP and Lynx being incorportated at various points of the courses.
    I would find it difficult to know where to 'pitch' programming i.e. at what level without totally losing the class and I guess that is where a little imagination comes in by way of a scheme of study. Any way I stumbled across ALICE and I could see its potential in relating it to both programming and a child's imagination any thoughts? (treat me gently)
    jamesmhunt likes this.
  14. I would consider Java or VB6:
    Java pros:
    Its free and means that the students can download it at home.
    Easy syntax that is very similar to most modern programming languages so will help progress to A Level if desired.
    No GUI, so prevents students from becoming distracted from 'drag and drop' components whilst being able to concentrate on the basic building blocks of programming.
    Can use Notepad as script editor

    Java cons:
    Has no 'WOW' factor for the students
    No Integrated Dev Environment, so can be frustrating for students
    Has a 'Help' library but does take some time to get used to
    VB6 Pros:
    Has the 'WOW' factor and relatively easy to use IDE
    Easy to use syntax
    Has a 'Help' library - which has some good coding examples
    VB6 Cons:
    Students (6th Form) do become distracted easily by the fact they can 'drag and drop' start coding before they fully understand what they are coding, then they become frustrated because they cannot get their program to run. I suspect this distraction would be more so in younger students.
    VB6 is not free

    I've only commented on these two languages because these are the only two I have come across when teaching A Level Computing. The pros and cons are based on problems that the students have had learning basic programming and also problems encountered when teaching the subject.

    jamesmhunt likes this.
  15. gnulinux

    gnulinux Occasional commenter

    Interpreted languages are the way to go. Python IS the main contender here. It is a VERY easy language to learn - unlike JAVA.
    Alice is a waste of time. The IDE is too confusing for pupils to cope with.
    Python with the pygame library can be used to write very credible computer games. There is lots of info online about it.
  16. Java does have lots of integrated development environments and can be made to have the wow factor if you know what to do with it! Writing a simple client server app can be very powerful and embedding it in a browser gives a wow factor.
    I have always found NetBeans to be better than BlueJ - still free www.netbeans.org

  17. I am guessing that someone has already pointed out that strictly speaking Python is not actually a programming language? [​IMG]
  18. JMOwen "VB6 is not free". The old express version of VB6 is free. It was distributed with numerous textbooks. VB.net express is also free to download: http://www.microsoft.com/express/vb/Default.aspx
    I've taught Java with very bright A Level students before. Those who are really into their programming will do well. The others will struggle. KS4 pupils will need to be really keen and bright, have lots of time in class and at home and no coursework from other subjects to make a go of something like JAVA. VB.net, with the wow factor, free downloads, numerous libraries and endless support is the language of choice IMHO.

  19. tosha82

    tosha82 New commenter

    You have to get students into OO, otherwise it is a step backwards. Java with which ever ide you select isa best.

  20. pinny24

    pinny24 New commenter

    I currently teach BTEC First for ICT Practitioners and I'm teaching Unit 7 - Software Development. I've used Visual Basic.net 2008 Express Edition and the kids have enjoyed it and have now got a basic grasp of programming. This is a mixed ability group too so I'm quite impressed.
    I'd say Object Orientation is a concept that should wait until at least sixth form - you need to understand procedural languages (imho) before you move onto OO. Alice and Scratch (as good as they are) are probably a bit too basic. Having used Scratch a fair bit it lacks a few essential bits and bobs - arrays being the big one.

Share This Page