I don’t want to jinx myself by writing about this before it’s a completely done deal, but it looks like Galileo will offer AP Computer Science next year, and it looks like I’ll be teaching it! In preparation, I went to visit Lowell High School last week and got to see Art Simon’s computer programming classes. He’s running a great program, and gave me some tips on websites to check out.
One of these was JavaBat, which is put together by Nick Parlante at Stanford to help students build up their coding skills. It focuses on having students complete methods with given signatures and requirements, which are then compiled and unit-tested on the server. It works really well, and has some nice problems. I did the Recur1 set today, warming up my rusty Java chops and remembering how the built-in String class works. I tossed out a couple as challenges to a friend, and we compared solutions. Of course, we did the problems completely differently.
The only thing I miss in the web environment — besides of course the Emacs parenthesis and bracket matching — is the ability to use System.out.println to get some feedback while my code is running. But then again, it’s a nice exercise to try to debug your work using logical thinking instead of just being lazy and looking at output to see what’s wrong. I wonder if students ever work on code for these problems in an environment where they can debug more easily. Would that be cheating, or just working smart?