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28 November 2005 @ 08:45 am
BlueJ: a "learning" Java IDE  
. Apprently, it's already being used in a lot of High Schools and Middle Schools.

Does anybody else fondly remember playing with Logo in the elementary school computer labs? Is there anything like that in use today?
Sordidatussordidatus on November 28th, 2005 05:07 pm (UTC)
I had to wait till Jr High to dork around with LOGO because our school district was very rurual and very broke. But I use to love it.
Turtle steps.
pen up
pen down
going forward
turning right
turning left

Curves were hard though.

We used to see who could black out the screen the fastest.

But I don't think there is anything like it today. CORELdraw, Paint Shop Pro and Photoshop have all made it obsoulete.
LOGO rocks.
St. Sean the Amusedseanb on November 28th, 2005 05:22 pm (UTC)
Re: DUDE!!!
We had a few computers in the elementary school - mostly for Logo and Oregon Trail.

In Jr. High, we did some playing with LogoWriter, which featured a fairly primitive IDE, but it made it pretty easy to develop custom functions. After the teacher noticed that I would spend about 5 minutes each day doing the assigned work and the rest of the class just playing around with the computer, she gave me access to the book she was using and let me go at my own pace. By the end of the quarter, I had a primitive graphical multi-room interactive game working in logo.

Lisp was so much easier when I realized it was just Logo with parentheses (and different words, of course).
Zzyzx: maththezzyzx on November 28th, 2005 05:15 pm (UTC)
I never could make that turtle do anything interesting.
Wendyalgol on November 28th, 2005 06:08 pm (UTC)
I only encountered LOGO in middle school since I went to elementary school out on the Reservation. I miss the turtle and the circles. :)
Justinian IIIgehn on November 28th, 2005 06:59 pm (UTC)
BlueJ's not a bad idea, but it seems like they're a little misguided. Taken from the "Why BlueJ?" section of their website (empasis mine):

The problems with existing environments

Several aspects in existing environments cause a long list of problems in teaching. One or more of these problems is present in every other environment.

  1. The environment is not really object-oriented. An environment for an object-oriented language does not make an object-oriented environment. The environment itself should reflect the paradigm of the language. In particular, the abstractions students work with should be classes and objects. In most existing environments, students deal with files instead. They are forced to think about the operating system's file system and directory structure. Setting up projects can be a nightmare. All this creates overhead that hinders teaching and distracts from the important issues. Objects as interaction entities are not supported in any other Java environment. Yet they are one of the most fundamental abstraction concepts.

  2. The environment is under- or overkill. Many teachers do not use an integrated environment (usually because of problems with finding a suitable one). In that case, students work from a command line (using Sun's JDK) and spend considerable time becoming familiar with Unix or DOS instead of learning about programming. In this case, valuable opportunities are lost for better teaching and learning through the use of better tools. Other environments are developed for more professional users and present an absolutely overwhelming set of interface components and functionality. Students are lost in these environments, and the effect can be as bad as having no integrated environment at all. Other environments are really modifications of non-object-oriented (procedural) environments and offer the wrong set of tools and abstractions. All of those, too minimalist tools, too complicated tools or the wrong tools, cause considerable problems.

I can see where they're coming from, but we don't write software in a vacuum. While getting distracted learning about files or how to use the coommand line can be annoying, it is actually useful. These are useful skills students will have to learn, and learning them in a vacuum, apart from how they'll be used, will probably help them less than learning them in practice. Plus, these are things we deal with as professional developers.. learning a language is good, but learning how to use the language is a separate topic. You can't abstract away the fact that you need to use a language to solve a real-world problem.

... just my musings on BlueJ, sorry.. ;)
GryMorgrymor on November 28th, 2005 07:21 pm (UTC)
Ahh yes, LOGO, that which introduced me to space filling curves and other happy things.
Wolfladypuppygrrl on November 28th, 2005 08:33 pm (UTC)
The only programming stuff I recall from elementary school was learning to program in Basic on an old Apple.