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"Team Ada: Ada Advocacy Issues (83 & 95)" <[log in to unmask]>
Subject:
From:
"Alexandre E. Kopilovitch" <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Thu, 2 Dec 1999 02:48:33 +0300
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"Alexandre E. Kopilovitch" <[log in to unmask]>
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As for "fun"... I suggest to use ML (SML) instead of VB -- there will be
a lot "fun" because (as I recall) every function definition in SML begins
exactly with the keyword "fun".


Alexander Kopilovitch                      [log in to unmask]
Saint-Petersburg
Russia


>   Date:         Wed, 1 Dec 1999 17:22:42 -0500
>   From: "Richard L. Conn" <[log in to unmask]>
>   Subject:      Re: What the competition looks like
>   To: [log in to unmask]
>
>   Hi, Jim,
>
>   Yes, you have to cover the laws of motion in physics,
>   but you can do it many ways.  You can read out of a
>   book, you can teach out of a lab, you can use multimedia
>   technology to enhance the experience, or you can employ
>   a combination of these approaches.  You can also
>   teach programming in many ways and with many languages,
>   and some are less of an experience than others.
>
>   You can make it fun for them ... heighten the experience,
>   and make the work easier.  But you still have to teach
>   the material.
>
>   I really hate seeing a student drop out.  I think making
>   it fun helps reduce that problem.  But it still happens.
>   My Freshman dropout rate is a little more than 50% this
>   semester by my current estimates.  My graduate student
>   dropout rate was close to 0%, but that's a different
>   game entirely.  I still tried to make it fun, tho.
>   There's nothing wrong with trying to make it fun,
>   just like there's nothing wrong with using VB to
>   teach Freshmen.  There are about 350 colleges and
>   universities participating in the Microsoft Academic
>   Cooperative.  I think a few others think so as well.
>   But then again, that IS my opinion, and it's based
>   on my own experiences.
>
>   Rick
>   ----------------------------------
>   Richard Conn, ASE and PAL Manager
>   http://xenadu.home.mindspring.com/
>
>   > -----Original Message-----
>   > From: jim hopper [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
>   > Sent: Wednesday, December 01, 1999 5:07 PM
>   > To: Richard L. Conn; [log in to unmask]
>   > Subject: Re: What the competition looks like
>   >
>   >
>   > Rick,
>   >
>   > Well being trained (and having worked as a teacher) of physics years
>   > ago, let me recast your justification for vb and see how you feel
>   > about it ;-)
>   >
>   > Physics would keep so many more freshmen if we didnt bore them with
>   > the fundamentals of silly things like newtons laws of motion, and
>   > such.  if we just went right to learning about how to use them to
>   > make weapons, and other glitzy fun things we would excite way more of
>   > them to stay in the field.
>   >
>   > I do understand you need to capture students attention, but i suspect
>   > you are misleading students into thinking computer programming is
>   > easy.  what happens next year when it gets HARD and they have to
>   > buckle down and do real work instead of just play? i suspect you move
>   > the dropout problem to upper level classes , and the students have
>   > wasted their time pursuing a subject that isnt really as advertised.
>   > i mean after all they all have seen quake, etc they KNOW that
>   > programming can result in spectacular fun things. if they really have
>   > what it takes they can move from that to getting through the druge
>   > work.
>   >
>   > jim
>   >
>   > At 3:01 PM -0500 12/1/99, Richard L. Conn wrote:
>   > >William,
>   > >
>   > >I really have to disagree with your statement about
>   > >VB.  We are talking about teaching Freshmen, not
>   > >Juniors or Seniors.  In a very practical sense, if you
>   > >try to tell Freshmen how great generics, inheritance,
>   > >etc., are, it's likely that those who don't quit after
>   > >the first two weeks will have not done so because they
>   > >fell asleep and did not wake up in time ;-).  I used
>   > >to think Ada for Freshmen was the way to go as well
>   > >until I actually started teaching Freshmen (all my
>   > >previous courses were graduate level or industry).
>   > >Now that I've dealt on this level, being able to teach
>   > >a fun, visual language where they can have a running
>   > >program at the end of a three-hour lecture/lab on the
>   > >first day that displays full-color glossey pictures
>   > >and has push buttons and dialog boxes is a whole
>   > >different level than just having a program that prints
>   > >"Hello, World."  Then, having later discussions about
>   > >how it is not cool to have Windows crash while your
>   > >airplane it flying with it rings home.  And when
>   > >objects and classes become so natural that when they
>   > >look at other languages and don't immediately see them,
>   > >they ask why the objects aren't there, I think we have
>   > >a good thing.
>   > >
>   > >Different languages for different purposes is a theme
>   > >from day one.  In the meantime, programming at least
>   > >starts out by being fun, and that's the hook you want
>   > >for these people.
>   > >
>   > >So, no, you did not convince me.  VB is for the
>   > >beginners.
>   > >
>   > >Rick
>   > >
>   > >----------------------------------
>   > >Richard Conn, ASE and PAL Manager
>   > >http://xenadu.home.mindspring.com/
>   > >
>   > >  > -----Original Message-----
>   > >  > From: Team Ada: Ada Advocacy Issues (83 & 95)
>   > >  > [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On Behalf Of Borgia, William M.
>   > >  > Sent: Wednesday, December 01, 1999 1:46 PM
>   > >  > To: [log in to unmask]
>   > >  > Subject: Re: What the competition looks like
>   > >  >
>   > >  >
>   > >  >         Rick Conn wrote:
>   > >  >         > You raise some very good concerns.  I'm glad to say
>   > >  >         > that VB is not the only language the CS dept uses.
>   > >  >         > The approach I'm taking with my Freshmen is that VB
>   > >  >         > is fun, easy to learn, and there is a lot of object
>   > >  >         > orientation there.  You can see my course slides
>   > >  >         > on my University website for the objects and classes
>   > >  >         > part of the course.  VB is kind of like a hook in
>   > >  >         > this case.  I also talk about Ada, by the way, in the
>   > >  >         > VB class.
>   > >  >
>   > >  >         > I'm a firm believer in building in the students an
>   > >  >         > infrastructure they can use to move in any direction,
>   > >  >         > regardless of language or technology change.
>   > >  >
>   > >  >
>   > >  >         [Borgia:]
>   > >  >
>   > >  >         Of those three languages (VB, Ada and C++), VB is perhaps
>   > >  > the worst
>   > >  > choice for an introductory course.  Sure, your statement about
>   > >  > infrastructure is correct, but consider the stronger
>   > >  > infrastructure that the
>   > >  > students would likely develop with Ada as the introductory language.
>   > >  >
>   > >  >         We don't need to start the whole argument again, but
>   > VB (and often
>   > >  > C++ and usually Java too) lacks some important
>   > characteristics inherent in
>   > >  > Ada.  These include strong enumerations, subtyping and
>   > ranging, generics,
>   > >  > meaningful parameter modes, tasking and a safe and elegant
>   > >  > implementation of
>   > >  > pointers, to name a few.
>   > >  >
>   > >  >         VB shines in how well Microsoft has integrated it
>   > into its Office
>   > >  > suite.  By the way, have they improved on error handling
>   > since the days of
>   > >  > "on error goto?"
>   > >  >
>   > >  >         VB and C++ often teach introductory students bad habits.  An
>   > >  > instructor who exploits the best features of Ada will help
>   > ward off these
>   > >  > bad habits in the future.  Having this "infrastructure," the
>   > >  > students would
>   > >  > be more likely to develop better applications in C++, Java,
>   > VB or whatever
>   > >  > when the time comes.  The converse is much less likely to happen.
>   > >  >
>   > >  >         Bill Borgia
>   >
>   > At a recent computer software engineering course in the US, the
>   > participants
>   > were given an awkward question to answer.  "If you had just boarded an
>   > airliner and discovered that your team of programmers had been responsible
>   > for the flight control software, how many of you would disembark
>   > immediately?"
>   >                      unknown author
>

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