Programming with Pictures

Posted on May 23, 2007  Comments (1)

Programming with Pictures

Carnegie Mellon University’s Randy Pausch…argues, many computer science departments are a quarter century behind on adapting their instructional methods for the purpose of attracting and retaining students, continuing to teach the gateway course to the field — introductory programming — just as they did 25 years ago.

About 10 percent of the nation’s colleges now use Alice, an open-source, graphical software program available free online that allows users to learn the very basics of programming — concepts like iteration, if statements and methods — while making 3-D animations. Alice’s growth within college computer science departments has been impressive: Most colleges only began incorporating Alice in their introductory CS0 or CS1 courses within the past 18 months, since the release of an accompanying textbook.

But the software, currently readable to users in plain old English (a major drawback for many faculty who of course teach programming in standard computer languages like Java and C++), is potentially poised to penetrate far more colleges in 2008, when Alice 3.0 comes out in Java — featuring, this time around, sophisticated graphics, made available free by Electronic Arts Inc., from “The Sims,” the best-selling PC video game of all time. (And significantly, Pausch adds, one of the few games more popular with girls than boys. Computer science, he notes drily, has the unfortunate distinction of being the only discipline in the sciences to actually face declining female enrollments percentage-wise in the last 25 years).

Interesting. Related: Computer Science EducationA Career in Computer ProgrammingMicrosoft Wants More Engineering StudentsSo You want to be a Computer Game Programmer?software development posts on our management blog

Update: The Last Lecture Book by Randy Pausch

One Response to “Programming with Pictures”

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