Greetings all-

There's a chance that I will be taking over my school's long-running programming class next year. Currently it focuses on C++ and that works well but students are looking for something more dynamic that offers some instant gratification. We are working with Windows machines (don't go there) so that limits any iPhone app creation.

Bottom line: for this high school level programming class should I stick with C++, go with ALICE, javascript or....?


Tags: C++, computer, programming

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Thanks for your advice and input. I'm a web design teacher and find that students enjoy the relative instant gratification of that subject area. Many interesting programming opportunites for students - iPhone apps, AJAX, etc.
I use C++ with my first year programming students. Here is my Computer Science Wiki Text.

You could consider PHP, Perl or Python.

The AP Curriculum is in Java and at our school we switch to Java in year two programming and then AP year three which is also Java.

In the beginning of the year tell the kids about all of these languages and they all have there place, but you shouldn't write an OS in PHP. That is what C and C++ are for. In the end the experts say it doesn't matter much which language you learn first just learn one. They all have control structures if, if/else, switch, while, do/while, for.

In all of these languages you can use Object Oriented Programming OOP. You could show them HelloWorld in all of them and explore each a little, but in the first year I think it is better to pick one learn the syntax of the one along with control structures, functions and objects.
Thanks for your advice and input. The idea of providing a backbone that can support any kind of organized programming is compelling. Are any of your students working with iPhone app creation or AJAX?
We have made simple web apps like random quotes and/or pictures to display on a web page using PHP to teach about arrays, but no iPhone apps.

AJAX is not a programming language it is Asynchronous Javascript and XML, and the javascript function XMLHttpRequest allows you to make calls to the server to refresh just a piece of a web page rather than the whole page giving the appearance of a dynamic page ... so if you are interested in AJAX stuff the language you would pick is Java Script.

In my opinion if you are trying to give the students a good foundation in programming the xhtml syntax can get in the way of the core of the curriculum: variables, arrays, control structures, functions and objects.

But AJAX could be cool ... and iPhone is a good hook, but to make something useful for the iPhone the students would have to be good with the core of programming.

It is like the chicken and the egg. I would ask myself:

1. What do I want the students to learn? A strong beginning in programming to continue on or just a taste of some technologies that they could pick one or more of to explore in the future?

2. What do I know as an instructor? If you are more comfortable with xhtml and web development, then maybe PHP or Java Script are better than C++. You could make a web design second level class where you do some design and write some PHP to process forms, take polls, surveys and things. Then you could throw in some AJAX to return results in somewhat real time?

Hope this helps.
I am looking at teaching a High School programming class next year. It will be the first for the school. I have been leaning towards Alice mainly because it provides such great visual feedback. I also like it because it leads into Java and that is what they teach at the local College. Before I found Alice I was leaning towards PHP and integrating web development into the class but I really do want something that will be visual and can carry them into the college program.

When I learned to program in BASIC we moved the turtle around the screen. Programming in C++ and Java was very boring command line prompt stuff in college.

iPhone apps would be awesome but we don't have any Macs.
Thanks for all of your advice.

I started off with Alice. By the end of the day one the students were running around the room showing off their scenes and actions. They learned and had fun.

Worth noting that many in the programming profession attack Alice and the like with a fair amount of malice. Too bad for their profession needs all the help it can get to avoid further offshoring.

Also take a look at robocode ( That's next for us after Alice. Good luck



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