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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

TouchDevelop Helps Students Understand Programming

TouchDevelop is a great platform through which students can learn to program simple animations and games. Miles Berry gave an entertaining presentation about it at TeachMeet BETT. As I watched his presentation I was struck by how much TouchDevelop reminded me of Logo Writer that I used as a student in 1990. If you used Logo Writer you'll probably notice the similarities too.

On TouchDevelop students program a series of actions by entering sequences of commands such as "move forward" and "turn right" that are carried out on the screen by a chosen figure such as a turtle. In addition to the direction commands students program the distances covered on screen, the colors, the animations, and the images to appear on screen. All commands have to be entered into correct sequences of "if, then" logic in order for everything to display as intended.


TouchDevelop works on most modern web browsers including Chrome for iPad. Students completed programs can be saved online and or exported for use as Windows apps or HTML5 applications.

Applications for Education
TouchDevelop provides a great way for students to begin to understand some essential logic behind programming applications. The visual aspect of TouchDevelop provides a fantastic format that gives students immediate feedback on their projects. Click here for a series of six tutorials that students can use to get started right away without much if any instruction required from you.

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