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The Future of Programming

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by 10101010, Apr 14, 2008.

  1. autismuk

    autismuk New commenter

    "They ***** and moan about how much more difficult it is to grasp than VB6."

    Well, yes it is, but that's because it's *limited* not because it's *easier*. What you really do with VB6, usually, is paint some forms and then do some basic coding in response to those forms' events, and maybe link a few together. It's easier because there is so little to it.

    "They tell me that kids who haven't done any programming at all before uni - which is, amazingly, the majority, find it horrilbe learning the basics using java. Many quit their courses altogether."

    This doesn't surprise me either. It's like going to University to study Art. If you've never done anything before you'll find it impossible. If all you've done is colouring in with crayons you'll find it difficult.

    "res ipsa loquitur..."

    Latin for "I talk ********" ?
  2. "I talk ********"

    Well, I think you're being a little harsh on yourself but if that's how you feel...

    Have you emptied the cafetierre again without a teacake to mitigate the caffeine?

    You're also delusional if you feel vb6 is that limited (maybe that's all you can do with it?) or that java is in the same league of ease-of-use, user friendliness or simplicity.

    java courses scare kids off.

    Like I said, res ipsa loquitur
  3. autismuk

    autismuk New commenter

    Oh, you can write anything in VB6, but only in a Turing Machine way. The problem is if you get out of the comfort zone you end up using VB6's external DLL reference system & all that that entails.
  4. Logo is very useful but people get led astray into just doing geometry with it without realising its power. I did a bouncing ball game knocking out blocks and a sonic style platform game. Using these the kids were able to add their own elements. Lots of fun to be had.

    Java isn't that out of the question. Curly brackets - Capital letter, full stop - well almost. Relate it to grammar and progress from there. There are some really good tutorial programs for Java and I'm desperately looking at the bookshelf and searching my memory for the one I have used which kids found fun and learned from. I'll remember when I'm looking for my car keys.
  5. "Relate it to grammar".

    That made me smile a bit!

    Now, grammar from which of 250 native languages spoken at my school?

    Please tell!?

    I think java/javascript are fine for SOME kids!

    And yes - they are living.
  6. [johnbrown wrote:]
    > They go to university where java seems to be used
    > almost universally.
    > They tell me that kids who haven't done any
    > programming at all before uni - which is,
    > amazingly, the majority, find it horrilbe learning
    > the basics using java. Many quit their courses
    > altogether.

    This could imply that university courses are getting crummier (possible, but that's a whole other thread...), or that Programming 101 courses are being designed to weed out those without any real talent for programming. If they can't pick up something like Java it doesn't bode well for when they meet something like LISP, Prolog, Postscript, SQL or whatever other language they're required to pick up in three days. Whatever they are being taught at school shouldn't be seen as a direct precursor to what they'll get taught on a programming course - schools should be about basic concepts, the implementation details should be a minor consideration.
  7. dhicks,

    Agree, they bloody well should be able to cope at uni and if they don't like it, it's tough!

    It would be prety **** poor if you came out of a university computer science course unable to do java.

    Intake is **** nowadays. of course.

    I think java is a little unfriendly for those at a more junior level in their educational career - that's why I use VB6 for the sixth form.

    I wouldn't be parading it in front of those in KS4 or 4 in my school.

    We've talked about some of the options there!
  8. The problem Unis have is that they get heaps of applicants who are "good at ICT". If they're not careful they take them on to their Computing and Software Engineering courses and discover they are no good at maths.

    So they graduate unable to program or manage to design a database and become ICT teachers.

  9. autismuk

    autismuk New commenter

    Except for the real failures who go on to devise the ICT curriculum.....
  10. autismuk

    autismuk New commenter

    If they can't pick up something like Java it doesn't bode well for when they meet something like LISP"

    Hehehe. I remember when I did my degree, we did LISP in the 2nd Year. Quite a lot of people who had only done Pascal in Yr1 basically ignored LISPs design and wrote Pascal in LISP.

    (while ((greater count 0))
    (count eq (minus count 1))
    (print ('Hello' 'World'))

    which made the problem about a hundred times more difficult.
  11. > Has anyone else mentioned Logo yet?

    And know we KNOW you're not SERIOUS!

    Take JohnBrown's advice. Give up teaching if you can't hack it. No wonder the drop-put rate is apparently so high at University (if we are to take these posts seriously.)

    Enjoy your weekend, don't forget your stab vests tomorrow.
  12. autismuk

    autismuk New commenter

    AA, how about we compromise and program in Brainf**k (for the geeks), Intercal (everyone else).
  13. 10101010,

    Bet you don't look as good in kevlar as I do.
  14. >> Has anyone else mentioned Logo yet?
    > And know we KNOW you're not SERIOUS!

    C'mon - proper functional programming, inherent support for massive parallelism. A programming language for the 21st century if ever there was one - I bet it would work a treat on Google's new App Engine!
  15. My first ever post to the TES forums so please be gentle when replying.
    I?ve just stumbled on this discussion and find it both fascinating and heartening. Like many, I believe in the educational value of teaching ?computational thought?. I use Lego Robolab for a 2 day transition with upcoming Year 6 pupils. Logo is great for Year 7 (and could be extended to all KS3). We currently use Gamemaker in Yr9. I want to introduce Scratch and Alice in years 8 & 9. I?ve previously used Basic lower down the school and would like to experiment with programming pic chips. In my view it is not the language that matters at these ages, more the thought processes the activities engender. My experience is that, whatever the language, pupils love these sort of activities because it gives them control and makes them think.

    KS4 is dire at present. In my opinion IT is a catch all with no clear logic driving the amalgam of apps that are taught. There is a need for GCSE Computing. There is also a need for a practical computer/networking course for other types of pupils (iPro?) and a print/web/multimedia publishing course (iMedia?) that gets to grips with the fundamentals of graphic/media design for those with artistic flair who want to use modern tools to make it happen. As for Powerpoint ? what?s the point of teaching that unless it is in the context of developing public speaking?

    We teach AQA Computing at KS5. The new spec shows a welcome return to focusing on computational principles. Which language? I?ve previously used VB6 but they are dropping support for this after a year of the new spec. I may move to VBExpress but want to spend the summer looking at Pascal/Delphi and also Python (which looks attractive).

    Starting with objects? Well, I suppose that?s what I do with Gamemaker, but that?s why I like starting with Logo in Yr7 so you can demonstrate user defined procedures etc. At AS level I?ve always spent the year using BBC Basic to establish principles without the graphic distractions of VB6. ? hence the attraction of Pascal / Python.

    It?s heartening to see so many contributors who still share a passion for the sequencing and logic skills inherent in programming. I?ve just set up a ?ning? community for teachers who will be teaching the new spec AQA Computing next year. Originally conceived as a support network for teachers up here in Cumbria, if anyone else would like to join please do. Link below:

    Even if you don?t teach A level Computing there may be material / links posted there that are useful in due course so pass it on if it is useful. Finally, there are lots of activities in this area that can be taught off computer ? check the posts about Computer Science Inside and Computers Unplugged on the ning community. I find things like these great for lessons when you?re booted out of the computer suite and pupils are fascinated about how things like compression algorithms or encryption work (well, the computing types, anyway).

    You?re all right ? we shouldn?t let this subject die. Ignore the KS3 strategy and put some fun and serious education back into it. I?ve never found it a problem when it comes to inspections doing this provided you can show you?re well prepared and thought out about what you are doing. Maybe others have had a different experience.

    Regards, Roger
  16. A good post.

    The problem is that if you say things like this in most ICT faculties they won't have a clue what you are talking about. ICT is very clearly becoming an office schools course and what is disappointing is that is a very poor office skills course.

    I go to so many schools and am angry and frustrated that what is being taught as ICT is so trivial and worthless.Nobody cares about pages of wordart, centring text with the spacebar, 20 fonts per page, =Sum(if...). I know they don't care because they mark it correct and give good marks and levels for it.

    Yet, when given a chance kids produce remarkable work. A faculty of non specialists gave me a free hand with key stage 3 recently and where quite surprised at what the kids could do. A little Logo project showed just how powerful this language still is at getting kids thinking in an ordered way. Define your procedures and use them.

    We have the ability to use this technology to combine creative and logical skills to enhance thinking but we use it to make posters instead.

  17. cj3


    Great post Roger- can we have more like it. No more trashing of the ICT curriculum and poor ICT teachers- just suggestions for how people who aren't used to programming can introduce it at KS3- what is the best program(s)? Does anyone have any resources? If you want to reintroduce programming, then give us the links/resources/whatever to enable us to do it - without resorting to nostalgia or kit that most of us don't have. We need to update the computing/programming curriculum to include what is current, motivating and real - and for most kids that is gamemaking/robotics. No?
  18. autismuk

    autismuk New commenter

    Yes, welcome RogerDavies and a great first post :)

    I would point out though cj3 that it is implicitly and in place explicitly trashing the ICT curriculum.

    I don't think anyone has referred to "kit that most people don't have" - all the IDEs suggested, the programming environments and even the Commodore 64 emulators are free. The exception to this, is, as always, robotics - if you want to do real control, which involves wiring things to things.

    There's a point for the nostalgia (note that RD uses BBC Basic at one point). It's to do with complexity.

    Most modern programming can be too complicated to start with. If one is talking about Games Programming, for example, "current" is often 3D which requires 3D Models and the ability to think in 3D. It's much easier to think and design in a flat 2D surface with sprites, which is somewhat "antique" admittedly.

    In BBC Basic you can draw a line on a graphics screen very easily. In (say) XNA Game Studio, it is .... a bit more difficult :) BBC Basic is also interpreted so you can type the instructions straight in and see them do something ; virtually everything "modern" is compiled.

    The only thing lacking in the "antiques" is object orientated programming ; other than that it is simply prettier jazzier versions of the same thing.

    There aren't many links or resources. The reasons for this are various ; high quality ICT tends to be odd pockets of stuff, with many people slavishly following the ICT simple curriculum ; as Coronel points out, some ICT teachers won't understand parts of the post. The limitations of the curriculum mean commericial products are not common. The pressure to maximise 5A-C and conform to OFSTED can also impose.

  19. For my first post I must apologise, I have been a long term reader of these forums but only deciding to post now...

    Also I couldn't quite bring myself to read all the pages of this topic, so I hope my thoughts haven't already been said.

    If a 'programming' element is to be re-introduced to our ICT or Computing courses, would it not need to come from the top-down in the guise of "formal" work that is required, or more simply, coursework of some shape or form?

    Or is this just being too ridiculous?

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