Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Gearing up for the fall semester

I'm back in Searcy and re-adapting to the heat and humidity. I've got less than one week to prepare for classes which begin on Monday. I'm trying some new things which I think will enhance each of the classes I'm teaching:
  • Intro to Programming - Traditionally I introduce algorithm development with flow charts before we ever write any C++ code. This time I'm going to replace flow charting with MIT's Scratch. I'm hoping this might engage the students more by allowing them to create animated programs early on instead of writing flow charts that don't exactly capture the imagination (e.g., finding prime factors of a number).

  • GUI Programming - Usually I have students create three desktop applications using C#, VB.NET, and Java. This time last assignment will require developing a mobile application, possibly for the iPhone. This will allow students to respect the limitations of a small screen and take advantage of mobility that desktop applications lack.

    Update: After some digging around, it looks like developing iPhone apps on a Windows box is currently not possible. So we'll probably use either the Microsoft .NET Compact Framework or the Java Platform, Micro Edition.

  • Computing Seminar - I'm encouraging one of my students to do a presentation on which programming language should be taught in the Intro to Programming class. This will require the student to compare our curriculum with others and the pros and cons of teaching C++ first (Harding is one of the few universities which has not jumped on the Java train). If the presentation is done well, we just might change what we're doing.

I'm open to other ideas if anyone would like to leave a comment.