Skulpting Code

It never fails to impress me what you can learn when you are aware of the goings on while you’re reading.  This morning, I happened to be reading the CSTA News Blast and there was a reference to CodeSkulptor being a web-based programming environment.  As people move to devices that rely on the web or work in a classroom environment when computer images are only refreshed once or twice a year, good web resources can be invaluable.

So, I headed over to CodeSkulptor to check it and and I liked what I saw.

Rather than write my own code to test it out, I decided to take a look at the demos.  There was the obligatory “Hello World” type of program and a couple of others.  One click on the run button pops a new window to view the output.  Closing the window takes you back to the authoring environment.  I like that approach a lot.  When things don’t go well, you can actually grab the output window and move it around to align the output with the code that generated it to see what went wrong.

When things do go wrong, and you know they will, error messages are displayed in the pane to the right.

The authors have documented the code so it’s pretty easy to see what each block of code does.

So often, learning code is easier when you take an existing program and poke around to make it your own.  The demo programs make this fun.  In particular, the Doodle Jump clone lets you get into hacking mode pretty quickly!

It’s got you covered with all the goodies that students like.  Game atmosphere, sound, and control within the game.  And, because the game is fairly simple, you’re able to do some modifications without breaking things completely.

No login is required to use the program – you can have multiple attempts at the same program by generating an AccessKey or downloading the work to reupload or open in another editor.  It kept this guy busy messing about for quite a while!

Are you new to programming in Python?  You’re covered there as well.  

Coursera offers a course from Rice University

This link was one that just keeps on giving!

If you’re teaching Python or just looking for additional ways to engage students in programming concepts, you’ve got to give it a look and see if it will work for you.  Particularly if you’re interesting in moving to coding with Chromebooks or you have other local restrictions on applications, this could be your answer.



One comment

  1. Codeskulptor is a fantastic website for learning Python, and the Coursera course you mentioned is excellent. The Codeskulptor Python docs are also excellent; probably the best I’ve seen anywhere.

    In our CS class at BDSS we’re now experimenting with a downloadable version of the Simplegui library–SimpleGuiTk (available on GitHub)–to use instead of Turing for introductory graphics programming. I don’t know if I’ll incorporate it yet for all students, but we’re learning lots in the process.

    Someone has also figured out how make Codeskulptor (including the docs) portable and local. Here’s the download link, if interested:


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