Continuing education : Alice programming environment

Today I went for a day continuing education on Alice at Centrum Nascholing Onderwijs, University Antwerp. Purpose was to find a solution for the problem that some students in our web design course for the unemployed had difficulty with programming because they had no previous knowledge. We are searching for something that can give a good introduction to them, teach them logical reasoning and that they can learn on themselves.

Alice is “a programming environment to support the creation of 3D animations, the Alice Project provides tools and materials for teaching and learning computational thinking, problem solving, and computer programming across a spectrum of ages and grade levels. It allows students to learn fundamental programming concepts in the context of creating animated movies and simple video games. In Alice, 3-D objects (e.g., people, animals, and vehicles) populate a virtual world and students create a program to animate the objects.”

It’s a good example of learning by gaming, Alice feels like a game, van create games, even simple actions can have great effects.

alice

There was a course available online, consisting of mostly youtube videos. Unfortunately there was a problem with the videos, some could be played by some students, and others not. The teacher was able to go over the content demonstrating the main aspects of working with the interface and programming through easy manipulation of existing blocks of programming logic. We’ll have to evaluate it further to see if it is adequate for our students, since there is a lot of manipulation involved that is not directed to logical thinking itself.

Important message here : technology can fail, and a backup plan should exist, if possible.

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