The case for the web

I remember it as if it happened just this past summer.  Actually, it was this past summer!  I was proctoring a Birds of a Feather session dealing with the Alice programming language at the CSTA Conference.

The BOF was scheduled to be in a small room and it was jam packed.  I couldn’t believe how many people would stick around at the end of a conference day for a session like this.  But, it was a chance to explain their passion for using Alice in the classroom.

Alice offers it all.  2 and 3 D story telling, building, programming in an easy format, an easy to navigate environment, and more including resources for teaching at the Alice website and all over the internet from fans.

I’m enjoying the discussion and the real passion for programming coming from those in the room.  It really is an indication that these people get it and want more.  I’m also cognisant of the time.  After all, this session is all that sits between these people and supper.  We reach the appointed time but nobody was moving or clock watching and the discussions continued.

I let it go for another five minutes.

Then ten minutes.

Then I realize that I’m shirking my duties so I stand up and politely wait for a speaker to pause to catch a breath and do the thank you thing to the leaders of the session.  Then it happened.

I was booed!

No kidding.  The now hostile crowd wanted more.  Well, not all of them so I apologetically told everyone that we were overtime and that those that wanted to leave could go for supper.  If they wanted to stay and continue, they were welcome.  I think a few of us left but the conversation continued.

Such was the passion for this programming environment.

In a recent discussion with Peter McAsh who led an Alice session as part of the Programming For Girls Challenge, we were talking about the opportunities available for the Hour of Code.  They generally were so accessible because all that you needed was a web browser to access them.

The one drawback to Alice is that it’s a standalone program and, as such, requires installation on a computer in order to use it.  No tablets, no Chromebooks, no phones – just a traditional computer.

That also means that you need to convince an IT Department that it needs to be installed and then updated on a standard image for the school.  That doesn’t make it easy to “try before you buy” in the classroom like some of the other options.  It doesn’t diminish the value of the program; all the good stuff is still there.

I would think that there would be many more fans if it was available via the web as opposed to a standalone installation.  It’s too bad; it has such potential.

OTR Links 12/14/2017

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.