I like BlueJ

I'm using BlueJ to teach programming this semester. I had heard about it for a few years, but was too lazy to change. I had the feeling, though, that I was getting bored with the n+1 time around the same old syllabus. I have been adamant about students having to work with Real Tools so that they learn to deal with Real Life Complexity. But there are quite a number who find Eclipse so daunting, that they give up.

But designing a new curriculum would take a lot of work. I was undecided on what to do, tended to spend evenings playing Scrabble on Facebook instead of working out exercises. Then a former student sent me a link to BlueJ, and I followed the link - and was fascinated by what I saw.

The environment is quite visual - and extremely object-oriented. I obtained the book by Barnes & Kölling and found that it was just my style!

The first lecture yesterday started with objects - yeah! After a short discussion on modelling, for which I used a collection of WiseKid's toy cars we had in the basement, and a few definitions on the board, we dove into the environment. What really pleased me was how visual it was - inspecting the state showed only what you need to know, not all the stuff Eclipse has in the debugger. It is paired down to just what you need to teach.

The class really got into the session. I had so many hands in the air and people anxious to say something. Some even had to repeat what we just said, but they wanted to say, too, that they saw what was happening. I had questions we could very simply answer with the environment, good questions too.

And what a joy when I got the email today from the re-incarnation of Stu Dent (there is always one in every class), regretting that he could not attend my introduction day or the first lecture but could I please send him the slides because he can't find them in Moodle. "Sorry, Stu. No slides. We work at the board and hands-on." How retro - and how good for teaching!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

well, you could take photos of what got written on the board...

...that way, I could get them also ('cause you made me curious now also ;-)