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