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Teach Programming Using ActionScript

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by dexterwilliams, Mar 13, 2012.

  1. If you've got Flash (CS3/5) at school why not teach the students to program using ActionScript?
    It's a fully Object Oriented language and therefore the concepts translate very well into other languages like Java and C#. The good thing about ActionScript is that you can get students programming some pretty cool stuff with very little code because it's linked with the Flash environment.

    I've just uploaded (to the resources) the first in a series of 10 tutorials for programming using ActionScript (It's called Beginning ActionScript - Setting Up & Drawing). This includes Student Booklet, Teaching Notes, Starter, Homework and Video Demonstration. Unfortunately I can't upload FLA files to the TES website so you'll have to get them from wissp.com
    The idea behind each booklet is to lead students through some skills and then present them with a challenge in the form of a mini-project. There isn't a right way to do it and I've only given clues to the method instead of spoon feeding them how to do everything.
    You should get away with delivering a booklet in a 1 hour lesson to high achievers, but you'll have to see how they get on really and possibly alter the timings or make an extra starter to spread it over 2 lessons.
    The second one is on the website already and the others are being finalised in the next week hopefully. Download, Use and Abuse them in any way you like... Just thought I'd share :)
     
  2. If you've got Flash (CS3/5) at school why not teach the students to program using ActionScript?
    It's a fully Object Oriented language and therefore the concepts translate very well into other languages like Java and C#. The good thing about ActionScript is that you can get students programming some pretty cool stuff with very little code because it's linked with the Flash environment.

    I've just uploaded (to the resources) the first in a series of 10 tutorials for programming using ActionScript (It's called Beginning ActionScript - Setting Up & Drawing). This includes Student Booklet, Teaching Notes, Starter, Homework and Video Demonstration. Unfortunately I can't upload FLA files to the TES website so you'll have to get them from wissp.com
    The idea behind each booklet is to lead students through some skills and then present them with a challenge in the form of a mini-project. There isn't a right way to do it and I've only given clues to the method instead of spoon feeding them how to do everything.
    You should get away with delivering a booklet in a 1 hour lesson to high achievers, but you'll have to see how they get on really and possibly alter the timings or make an extra starter to spread it over 2 lessons.
    The second one is on the website already and the others are being finalised in the next week hopefully. Download, Use and Abuse them in any way you like... Just thought I'd share :)
     
  3. AS2 is awful, AS3 is better but complicated for kids to get their heads around at first - so not a great starter language.
    I guess the same holds true with any IDE though - and you're not restricted to being stuck with Flash's timeline downfalls
    Definitely will have a look though!! We're doing OCRL3 Unit 4 using Flash, and kids are programming games in Flash as part of OCRL2 Unit 20 - so we use a fair bit of AS3 in it...

     
  4. They really are excellent, definitely useful for anyon teaching Flash that wants to do something a bit different - well packaged!
     
  5. I think you may be getting confused between AS2/3 and CS3/5... The only offering here is to do with programming in AS3. Both CS3 and 5 support AS3, but the flash files have been saved in CS3 format so they can be opened by both versions.
    I realise you can't see the whole series yet but everything stays on Frame 1 and ignores the timeline (which I agree is very annoying). It is amazing how quickly students embrace these concepts if you just approach them as 'truth'. It's harder for adults to grasp the concepts in my experience.
    I remember teaching Unit 20 and it ended up being a nightmare with students trying to create timelines and scenes. I am not trying to do anything with that unit here as the criteria are very basic (compared to where I am going) for marking. This is really only a resource if you want to teach OOP, but it lets students create graphics quickly
    Thanks for the 'excellent' comment by the way :)
     
  6. Interesting.

    I've often thought of using AS3 to engage kids but it's always seemed such a pig of a language.

    Will download and evaluate your stuff.

    Thanks for the contribution.
     
  7. The language is okay, sort of, but the tools are awful. It suffers (in CS3 especially) from being a Javascript graft on.
     
  8. The second tutorial is now in the resources section (Beginning ActionScript - Syntax &Variables)
    Again, I can't upload the FLA files which are useful if a student doesn't quite finish the previous tutorial or manages to lose their work.You can get them from the website though: wissp.com
     
  9. Full marks for programming enthusiam + Full marks for a dumb idea.
    Fully teaching an object-oriented approach with Actionscript (presumably for Computing/Level 2 course), is a complete insanity. Why is common sense getting thrown out the window at the moment? Universities don't start teach programming with Actionscript, so why should that be the case at school. Deary me!
    Its about principles, principles, principles. Teach them how to walk before you teach them how run an Olympic marathon.
     
  10. Thanks for the encouraging words tosbrown... but you seem to have assumed a lot...
    I have personally taught ActionScript to Year 8/9 students and run an interschool games programming competition in conjunction with Adobe Education with the same age students which went fantastically well. I would be careful about trying to put a particular level on the tutorial as it depends on their experience.
    I'm not sure why you think it's an Object Oriented approach. Yes the language is fully OO, but all you need to do is introduce the code snippets one at a time and you'd be amazed how quickly kids pick it up. The approach I've taken is actually more linear programming in this series.
    I don't see why just because a University doesn't start off teaching ActionScript that a school shouldn't. It's actually much more fun for the students because they don't need to learn a whole load of boring principles before creating something quite clever.
    Can you really imagine trying to sit down and explain the principles of how static void main(String args[) constructor works for Java... then about 10 lessons later they may be able to draw the word 'hello' into an applet?... That would be a dumb idea! And really boring for the kids.
    I think you are underestimating students ability to just play around with code and see what happens... the ones I've taught find it really good fun :)
     
  11. I'd liken it to teaching pupils using Javascript and HTML (which would be my preferred method), but the Flash and Actionscript method makes creating games, rather than applications, much easier. I still stand by the above - dexter has created an excellent resource here - I think my biggest issue is the first language a pupil learns should have an excellent debugger (like the old VB6) - something Flash doesn't measure up to.
     
  12. The 3rd tutorial has just been uploaded to my resources now: "Beginning ActionScript - Movement & Events".
    Again, the additional FLA files that will prove useful can't be uploaded, but they are on my website at: www.wissp.com
    You could try giving the guides to an enthusastic student and see how they get on without guidance if you need to stretch them a bit. I'd say Year 9+ if you're leaving them to their own devices though.
    Enjoy :)
     
  13. The 4th tutorial is up now in my resources... "Beginning ActionScript - Arrays & Loops".
    After working with some Year 9 students it became apparent that the original plan for the course needed altering to include this knowledge before some of the other topics. As it happens this is probably now the most technically difficult tutorial in the series, but once students get through it they are well set to understanding some quite powerful control structures.
    Enjoy :)
     
  14. This is exactly the reason Computer Studies was dropped so many years ago and a coordinated Nat Curric in IT introduced.
    It's quite frightening the sort of content students could face in future IT courses.
     
  15. I taught some Flash in my previous school but not actionscript - I presume actionscript is part of the Flash application? The last time I checked out a classroom licence for Flash it was over £3000, more than the entire budget for the year for the whole department. Any cheaper versions / workarounds that you know of?
     
  16. I think you're about right on the school license cost, but every school I know of takes it from the whole school IT budget that covers all the computers, servers, laptops, software, maintenance etc... which makes £3000 fairly reasonable. It's only learning materials that would come from the department.
    I think it's discounted by 80% and while Creative Suite is probably going to be mainly used by ICT there are benefits for Music (Soundbooth), Drama/Media (Premiere), Art/Graphics (Photoshop), English (InDesign). Of course that depends on whether they would actually use them I suppose!
     
  17. Speaking as a curmudgeonly sock-troll, even I find this comment a little harsh; this thread shows up some of the differences teachers experience / endure.





    The poster is one of the haves: it looks like he has students with functioning brains who could cope with it and financial and political support from his head. That's nice and big-up to him for that.





    For the rest of us, it's just something interesting to have a look at and is surely a real achievement, none the less?
     
  18. My point is and I've seen elements of it many a time as I'm sure we all have. You get new teachers teaching what they are interested in, what they can do easily and what can be used to impress rather than what students need to be taught.
    The latter has always been difficult to identify for the 11-14 year old when they are so many years off University and/or the workplace but it ain't ActionScript that's for sure!
     
  19. ducros, you are right, it isn't ActionScript but the skills you learn while using it. Surely we have to stop just "prepping kids for the workplace" in ICT somewhere - is there another subject that does that? I'm all for kids having the required skills for daily life, whatever their job, but there are definitely keen coders, future engineers and network managers that also need to be prepared for their workplace. Yes, ActionScript isn't going to be what they use every or any day of their future life, but introducing them to what dexterwilliams is doing is an excellent start to a career in non-Office IT.
    I'd much rather my pupils spending their evenings attempting to program something than wasting their life infront of TOWIE and their PS3's or on BBM.....
     
  20. Tutorial 6 - Collisions has just been uploaded to the resources (click on my name to find it).
    Thanks for 'mostly constructive' feedback. I just thought I should point out that the reason for using ActionScript is that you can get the graphic elements working very quickly so students can see a tangible result. Other languages cause a lot of issues when you try and actually create something visual using programming.
    Even though ActionScript is fully Object Oriented I have specifically stayed away from trying to teach that in this series of tutorials. It is linear, logical programming with functions, just like Basic with GoSub's.
    As jweb2k points out I'm not expecting them to use ActionScript in particular, but the programming concepts and constructs are very similar in other languages should they choose that route. Apart from the actual programming it also teaches an approach to problem solving and logical analysis, which are a part of every day life.
    If the tutorials seem too hard then it may be time to think about why you are teaching ICT. As I've said previously... I've given these to Year 9 students and they just followed along on their own.
    Even if you don't want to teach it you can use them as resources for an ICT programming club or have on the shelf for those days when the exceptional students have finished all their work and are looking for a challenge.
    Unfortunately ICT lessons are often aimed at the middle achiever in the desperate hope that you can drag the low achievers along for a grade somehow via coursework while those with more knowledge than the teacher get disillusioned and bored. Why not give them something interesting and challenging to do instead? Yes, you may get asked questions that you don't know the answer to and might have to look something up, but you're not supposed to know everything... although I know a few teachers who think they do!
    Anyway,
    Enjoy :)
     

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