Teaching object-oriented programming in primary education. The case of the Alice programming environment


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Teaching object-oriented programming in primary education. The case of the Alice programming environment

  1. 1. “Teaching object-oriented programming in primary education. The case of the Alice programming environment” Sotiroudas Basileios1, Garitsis Ioannis2, Koundouros Markos2 1 Teacher of Informatics, Med (AdultEd) 2 Teacher in primary education, Mhs (HealthSc) 3 Teacher of Informatics, Msc (CompSc)
  2. 2. Who, Where, When • Pupils of the 6th class • 30th Primary School of Thessaloniki • School Year: 2013-2014
  3. 3. Integration into the curriculum The present educational application developed: 1. As part of the Cross-Thematic Integrated Curriculum Framework (C.T.I.C.F) for the Information Technology and 2. As part of the curriculum concerning the new teaching objects inserted in the all-day operating primary schools that operate according to the Uniform Restated Educational Program (U.R.E.P.) (FEK 1139/2010) and, in particular, on the topic of “Programming the Computer" for which, according to the curriculum, a total of 12 teaching hours is recommended
  4. 4. However ... • Due to the lack of prior experience of the pupils of the 6th class in the concept of “programming the computer”-pupils do not encounter the concept of programming in the preceding classes- the 12 dedicated teaching hours proved to be few, as the corresponding theory along with the complete implementation of the application lasted a total of twice as many
  5. 5. Objective Introduction to object-oriented programming and to the basic algorithmic structures
  6. 6. Main Targets • In terms of knowledge: To recognise the key features of a programming environment • In terms of skills: To use basic algorithmic structures for solving problems • In terms of attitudes: To develop a positive attitude to programming
  7. 7. The dilemma: Structured or Object Oriented Programming;
  8. 8. What we have 1/4 • Try teaching the concept of programming to beginners at all the levels of education presents several difficulties and misconceptions • The object-oriented design is more abstract than the technique of structured programming, requires new ways of thinking and is more demanding in terms of the processes of analysis and design
  9. 9. What we have 2/4 • The development of programs using object- oriented languages ​​is even more difficult for beginners On the other hand, however ... In the last decade, the introduction to the concept of programming is performed primarily using the object-oriented programming model
  10. 10. What we have 3/4 • For the pupils of primary school, it should be seriously taken under consideration not only the abilities of programming tools but also the “virtual world” programming-which should be picturesque and, if possible, three-dimensional - and its playful characteristics, because it activates the maximum possible degree of pupils’ interest and induces their motivation to participate
  11. 11. What we have 4/4 • Object-oriented programming is one approach that allows us to reach high levels of abstraction, reducing in this way the complexity of the problems we have to solve
  12. 12. Alternative Options
  13. 13. Our selection The “Alice” programming environment http://www.alice.org
  14. 14. Tool’s Characteristics • Ability of creating animated cartoons via drag and drop • Using drag and drop eliminates the appearance of syntactic errors • Tackling with logical errors is performed ​​at each stage of the development, as pupils can immediately see the result of their actions during the running of the program on the screen of the virtual world
  15. 15. Tool’s Characteristics • 3-dimensional virtual world • Given its particular characteristics, it activates the pupils’ interest and causes the motivation for participation to such an extent, as in the case with video games or animated films • Open Source Software • Pupils can upload the application they are developing in the form of video directly to YouTube or save the application in the form of independent video file on their computer
  16. 16. Furthermore … • The instructions for the objects’ behaviors meet the standards of other programming languages ​​like Java, C + + or C # • By manipulating the objects in the virtual world, pupils can gain experience with all the programming structures commonly taught in an introductory programming course
  17. 17. The application • The application takes place on the seabed and concerns three fish, try to eat one another. The application is available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZQRSJH3P- w&feature=c4- overview&list=UU9_Vbcip3rQw_bAyMeGnovA
  18. 18. The application
  19. 19. Key features of the application • The objects’ movement • The display of messages on the screen • The use of variables • The use of procedures • The use of the structure of sequence and • The use of the structure of repetition
  20. 20. Implementation stages • The course of the educational process followed by briefly the following stages: • Introduction to Classes and Objects • Basic actions of the objects • Using Variables • Using the sequence structure • Using the repetition structure • Using Procedures and Functions
  21. 21. Methodology of Observation • As for the methodology of observation-given the physical presence and participation of the teacher-the systematic covert observation of both verbal and non-verbal behaviors and reactions of subjects in the observation was selected, estimating that if the learners were aware that they were subject of the observation, this would alter the final results
  22. 22. Remarks - Conclusions • The pupils were activated right from the first lessons • The incentive for participation was increased due to the new capabilities they had learned that led them to the ability of moving the objects in the game they were developing • The pupils encountered significant problems in understanding the structure of repetition and the use of processes, which occurred with the posing of a large number of queries and questions
  23. 23. Remarks - Conclusions • The concepts of classes, objects and inheritance initially frightened students • The friendly user interface, the depiction in 3 dimensions and the playful characteristics of the programming environment had a catalytic effect on participation of all the pupils’ working groups, regardless of their sex
  24. 24. Remarks • All groups of pupils handed the final product, others with less and others with more errors
  25. 25. In conclusion... • The practical use of the “Alice” programming environment in the teaching of object-oriented programming to the pupils of the 6th class of primary school can contribute to the development of their algorithmic thinking • Pupils are also able to have a first contact with the basic principles of programming through a friendly environment, well equipped with playful characteristics
  26. 26. This latter feature is of particular importance especially for the younger pupils, so the first contact they would have with programming would be attractive and interesting
  27. 27. Thanks very much for your attention!