I really do see that TouchDevelop has huge potential if non-computer science students learn it and make it part of their digital toolkits. See “My CS Plan“.
So, rightfully, I’ve been learning more from it vicariously though Alfred Thompson’s posts “It’s Worth A Try–Or Is It?” and “BBC Micro:bit Revisited“. Both are good reads if you want to get a first-hand review of the product.
At the closing reception, I finally had a chance to relax a bit – this wasn’t our event so I could enjoy the hospitality of Code.org at the Austin Ranch. After I took the few mandatory pictures, I sat with Alfred and a couple of others. Alfred brought out his Windows phone and started to show us some of the coding that he had played around with on the device. In addition to support for it, TouchDevelop provides an emulator to see the results.
You’ll notice that the results from any coding appears in the five by five matrix of lights and that there are two programmable buttons A and B on the turtle’s legs.
We then started joking about how difficult it would be to get your hands on the physical device unless a replication of the ISTE experience occurs and British students start selling them on eBay…
Until then, programming for the emulator is just as simple as loading the library…
…and then selecting the desired function.
The physical device even includes a compass!
As I sit here at home playing around with this, I’m really liking what I see. I took a look through these TouchDevelop lessons but don’t see the Micro:Bit mentioned yet. But, with the rollout plans, you know that it’s just a matter of time.
The fact that all of this is together in one spot is a big plus. No need for students to learn another language to do some device programming? Priceless in K-12.