Learning to Program

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Alex and Calvin are both learning to program. Here are some geat modern ways (as opposed to Basic that I learned):

* “Alice”:http://alice.org. This is a 3D programming environment that is used to put people into the graphical world. EA is underwriting the development and will use Sims 2 characters for instance will be used with characters to learn it. “Wikipedia”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_%28software%29 has a good explanation of this software from CMU. It is mainly for graphics programming.
* “Phrogram”:httP;//phrogram.com. This is the second edition of KPL and is also a fun language. This is more general purpose programming language.

One fun early game to learn is “Lunar Lander”:http://www.frontiernet.net/~imaging/lunar_lander_game.html. There is even simple source code out there for people to look at like “JDLunarLander”:http://www.serve.com/wizjd/java/JDLunarLander/JDLunarLander.html

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3 Replies to “Learning to Program”

  1. Rich – Thanks for the post about Phrogram – it’s my little start-up (along with a few other guys). We view the difference between Phrogram and Alice as “code-centric” vs. “model-centric.” Phrogram is about learning how to code, Alice is about learning how to manipulate 3d models. Query which results in a more lasting sustainable interest in real programming. Alice is everywhere (and everyone thinks highly – rightly so – of the late Randy Pausch), but is it creating more prospective CS majors for the college level? Phrogram is getting some traction in middle and high schools although its a long term process. Still, there is an opportunity here, especially with Phrogram 3.0 connecting into XNA framework and upcoming ability to make games for Xbox … anyway, just some things to consider and thanks again for the mention on your blog.

  2. @david_w: Great points, David. Thanks for taking the time to post. You are right Alice is much more limited and therefore easier to do sprite-based movement. Phrogram definitely has made in roads here in Seattle and we are greatful you are working hard on it. It ain’t easy to teach programming and it is so important. Keep up the great work. Trully, I think that programming is just another language. I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t just learn it like Spanish or Chinese.

    All these modern languages are so much better than the obscure ones I know (Fortran, Snoball and dare I say APL) and any one of them teaches well. Truthfully, I still find that for the basics of procedural, a simple main() { printf(“hello world\n”); } is good for the soul. 🙂

  3. It may be old, but the basics of programming haven’t changed much since the 60’s – have you looked into using LOGO to teach your son to code?

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