Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Use of Programming in Non-Programming Classes

I believe programming is one of the more useful skills we can teach in high school today. This is why I've been looking around for fun and easy to use programming languages (that and I want to make sure my son knows the basics of programming). Both Squeak and StarLogoTNG have potential and I will be looking for ways I can use them in my classes this year. I also will continue to have my students write simple programs on their graphing calculators.

Another area you may interject some programming is a web design type class. It would be very easy to incorporate some java script.Many people believe that html code is a programming language. While it has some similarities with programming it is simply a mark-up language. Java Script can be imbedded within html code and can speed up the web design process. Newer web design technologies are becoming incresingly dependant on the ability to program.

You may be asking yourself why I believe programming to be so important. When I was young I learned the basics of programming and that has allowed me to use computers much more effeciently. For example, when I found out youd could write simple If-Then statments in Microsoft Excel I was off and running. I didn't need to look up how to do it. Simply knowing I could do it was enough. Understanding the basics of programming structure made it easier for me to grasp many concepts in math more quickly as well.

I've only ever learned Basic and Fortran, but both have made me approach problem solving differently and gave me the confidence to slog through html and kml codes. Neither html nor kml are strictly programming languages, but the confidence granted by knowing some programming makes approaching both easier. Hyper Text Markup Language (html) is used for formating webpages and Keyhole Markup Language (kml) is used for creating content for Google Earth.

If students are going to participate in the read-write web they don't need to know how to program. But, if they do there are many more doors open.

Next I'm going to jump into Second Life. As I understand it you can create your own objects and code their behaviors. This could be yet another fun way to introduce students to programming.

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