Tuesday, November 15, 2011

More than an Introduction to Programming

Last week Peter Wayner wrote a nice piece in the New York Times titled "Programming for Children, Minus the Cryptic Syntax". Anything that gets kids interested in programming is a good thing and the article discusses a few software products designed specifically to teach kids programing logic in a fun and intuitive way. 

Real Studio would have a made a great addition to this list. Though most of the software tools Wayner mentions are great for introducing programming to kids, they can't realistically be used for much more than that. On the other hand, Real Studio can be used to introduce programming to kids without limiting what they can do to simplistic programming. Real Studio is really accessible to children and is already used in many schools around the world to teach programming. 

Many people feel that you have to choose between something being easy and intuitive or difficult and powerful. I think that choice is a copout- you can have it both ways, though it may require more design and thought to achieve. We add features that make Real Studio easier and we add features that make it more powerful. We work to make it intuitive for those learning programming for the first time and at the same time, make it powerful for experienced developers.

You can have it both ways if you take the time to design your products with this in mind and the result can be a far superior product, one that students would be lucky to get their hands on early.


David Anderson said...

I'd love to agree with you but I can't. The documentation for Real Studio is a very serious impediment to learning the language. And, as the author of the article pointed out, there's the syntax problem. I grant that Real Studio is powerful and a good development tool, but I would never use it as an introduction to programming for an 8 or 10 year old.

Geoff Perlman said...

Well, I will respectfully disagree. I introduced my 8 year old son to programming with Real Studio only recently. He immediately got it. Is he going to learn completely on his own? No. I suppose he could but as parents when we introduce a child to just about anything we teach them first. Later, they take off on their own.

The syntax of the Realbasic language is pretty straight forward. Yes, it's got a huge framework but I doubt that would stop a child that is interested.

Can a child learn how to move a rectangle across the screen or a picture? Sure. Can they learn how to draw lines and shapes and text using the Paint event of a canvas control? Absolutely.

Real Studio is certainly be appropriate for teaching kids programming. Just give it a try.

Bob Boice said...

Learning the basics of computer programming does not require any development tool. In fact, I find it easier on occasion to teach beginners the basics of decision-making, loops, variables, etc. via a whiteboard discussion.

Once the concepts above are understood, then it's a matter of what type of software you want to create. Some kids prefer learning how to write games while others want to learn something else.

I've taught many beginners and have used various tools to do so. I feel that Real Studio is among some of the better development environments for taking the next step in putting into practice the basics we've learned above and then some. It is the only tool I'm aware of that offers cross-platform development features.