Microsoft Visual Studio (VS) 2010 was officially released on Monday (April 12). Looks like it's got a lot of nice new features. Here is an interesting excerpt of how Microsoft is marketing VS 2010 to the IT community - it's the blurb from the ad Microsoft is running about VS 2010 in this week's issue of Information Week:
Code. It's used to create the things that are all around us. Almost everywhere you look, it's there. ... [tagline] Life Runs on Code."
As one of the guys on the Phrogram team, this certainly resonates: if you want to learn programming, or you want to get a student interested in learning programming, don't "step away from the code" - in fact, embrace it. Code is the container that holds the power that makes programming capable of doing fascinating things. Phrogram is an attempt to make code more friendly to use, write - dare I say "play with," - - although it certainly still takes effort and focus to get into it. As one of our users noted in a post recently:
One very useful thing to note -- correction, two, are the following.
Phrogram is as close to English as you will get. The non-programming part of my family does not understand Phrogram. See the conflict?
Actually, the conflict may be that by default these days, we all seem to shy away from something does not look all that easy to do, unless we can be shown exactly how to do it. Learning how to write code - and thereby discovering the world of real programming - is not the kind of thing you can spoonfeed either yourself or other people. You have to "wallow" in it a bit, all by yourself. I don't come from a technical background so I am continually learning this myself as I continue to work on the Phrogram project and try to learn programming on my own. I recently took an extension class in PHP at a local university. The instructor insisted (in more or less words) that we "get in there and write out your code longhand, even if you can find shortcuts." Early on at least, it's the only way to make it stick. This may not seem directly pertinent, but I think a recent post in Brendan Murphy's blog goes to the deeper issue of learning effectively.
"Students have been socialized into thinking school is a place where knowledge is given not developed. Students generally don’t or won’t think for themselves. If we start slow we can re-teach our students to use their own brains. If students are asked to use what they know to solve problems without being [led] by the hand eventually they will start to work on their own. The end goal of course is to get students to put some value on the knowledge they possess. I guess in the hope that they will apply it when needed."
There may be a "conflict" that some folks have in diving into code, and code avoidance seems to be the preferred approach for some educators so that programming doesn't look so "un-fun." But there are other ways to look at it. Code, as much as words and numbers, really is what life runs on these days, and if you truly want to be literate as the world continues to move ahead at an astonishing innovative pace over the next few decades, the last thing you should say to yourself (or, if you are an educator, your students) is that when it comes to code, don't worry, you can still learn programming and safely look the other way.
Thu, Apr 15 2010 11:56 AM