Posts tagged ‘HyperCard’

Why do so few schools try LiveCode? We let industry dictate our tools

I’m an old HyperCard programmer, so I like LiveCode.  LiveCode does very well on the five principles I suggest for picking an educational programming language. The language is highly readable, and was actually designed drawing on research on how novices best understand programming. It’s easy to put together something that looks authentic and that runs on virtually any platform — much easier than Python, Java, Scratch, Blockly, or any of the other top five most popular teaching languages. Authenticity is often engaging for students.

The LiveCode folks have just put together a web page (linked below) describing some of the reasons why teachers should consider LiveCode.  But in general, we don’t.  Why not?  I have two guesses:

  1. There is no community of practice. There isn’t a visible community of teachers using LiveCode. There isn’t an obvious industry call for more LiveCode programmers.
  2. We in computing education are mostly driven by surface-level interpretations of industry needs.  It isn’t obvious that it must be so, or even that it should be so.  But the same forces that killed Pascal and promoted Python, Java, and C++ as our intro languages prevent LiveCode from getting adopted.

I think LiveCode, Smalltalk, and Lisp are all excellent pedagogical programming languages, but our teaching decisions in secondary and post-secondary CS education are rarely based on what will engage students, be easier to learn, or lead to transferable knowledge.  Instead, we tend to make decisions on what obviously looks like what current professionals do.  It binds us to normative practices. We’re stuck in apprenticeship as our teaching perspective, and can’t consider social reform or developmental perspectives.

Better Exam Results, Better Real Life Outcomes, More Fun!

Over a third of Scottish schools are now teaching using LiveCode. They are doing this because they have proven results showing that using LiveCode results in more students remaining engaged, reaching good grades, and continuing in the direction of a coding career.

Source: Education | LiveCode

November 10, 2017 at 7:00 am 23 comments

LiveCode Community Edition is released: HyperCard is free again and runs on anything!

I’m excited about this and find myself thinking, “So what should I do with this first?”  LiveCode isn’t as HyperCard-like as it could be (e.g., you edit in one place, then compile into an application), and it has all of HyperCard’s limitations (e.g., object-based not object-oriented, lines are syntax).  But it’s freeincluding all engines.  I can program iOS and Android from the same HyperCard stack!  I can build new kinds of programming languages and environments on top of Livecode (but who in the world would want to do something like that?!?) that could compile into apps and applications!  It’s a compellingly different model for introductory computing, that sits between visual block programming and professional textual programming. Wow…

LiveCode Community is an Open Source application. This means that you can look at and edit all of the code used to run it, including the engine code. Of course, you do not have to do this, if you just want to write your app in LiveCode there is no need for you to get involved with the engine at all. You write your app using LiveCode, the English-like scripting language, and our drag and drop interface. Fast, easy, productive and powerful.

via Community Edition Overview | RunRev.

April 26, 2013 at 1:28 am 9 comments

Taming the Monolith: Refactoring for an open source HyperCard

LiveCode had an earlier blog piece on how they want to implement “Open Language” so that the HyperTalk syntax could be extended.  This piece (linked below) goes into more detail and is an interesting history of how LiveCode evolved from HyperCard, and how they plan to refactor it so that it’s extensible by an open source community.

LiveCode is a large, mature software product which has been around in some form for over 20 years. In this highly technical article, Mark Waddingham, RunRev CTO, takes us under the hood to look at our plan to modularize the code, making it easy for a community to contribute to the project. The project described in this post will make the platform an order of magnitude more flexible, extensible and faster to develop by both our team and the community.

Like many such projects which are developed by a small team (a single person to begin with – Dr Scott Raney – who had a vision for a HyperCard environment running on UNIX systems and thus started MetaCard from which LiveCode derives), LiveCode has grown organically over two decades as it adapts to ever expanding needs.

With the focus on maintenance, porting to new platforms and adding features after all this time evolving we now have what you’d describe as a monolithic system – where all aspects are interwoven to some degree rather than being architecturally separate components.

via Taming the Monolith.

February 19, 2013 at 5:53 am Leave a comment

Open Source Edition of LiveCode (Modern HyperCard)

HyperCard is likely still the world’s most successful end-user programming environment.  Having an open source version that runs on all modern OS and mobile platforms would be fabulous.  I’m backing.

LiveCode lets you create an app for your smartphone, tablet, desktop computer or server, whether you are a programmer or not. We are excited to bring you this Kickstarter project to create a brand new edition of our award-winning software creation platform.

LiveCode has been available as a proprietary platform for over a decade. Now with your support we can make it open and available to everyone. With your help, we will re-engineer the platform to make it suitable for open source development with a wide variety of contributors.

Support our campaign and help to change coding forever.

via Open Source Edition of LiveCode by RunRev Ltd — Kickstarter.

February 5, 2013 at 1:27 am Leave a comment

Khan Academy offers kind-of-scaffolded computer science learning: Doing away with the teacher

With a bold claim, “Khan Academy Launches the Future of Computer Science Education,” TechCrunch described Khan’s new foray into computer science.  They’ve had CS videos in the past, but now they have a powerful text editor in which students can edit JavaScript, or manipulate variables like in Bret Victor’s cool demo.

The TechCrunch article actually cites research (see below), a paper by Cindy Hmelo.  Cindy’s paper is actually on problem-based learning, but it does describe scaffolding — as defined in a Hmelo & Guzdial paper from 1996! How about that!

What I see in the Khan Academy offering is one of the kinds of scaffolding that Cindy and I talked about.  Scaffolding is an idea (first defined by Wood, Bruner, and Ross) which does involve letting students explore, but under the guidance of a tutor.  A teacher in scaffolding doesn’t “point out novel ways of accomplishing the task.”  Instead, the teacher models the process for the student, coaches the student while they’re doing it, and gets the student to explain what they’re doing.  A key part of scaffolding is that it fades — the student gets different kinds of support at different times, and the support decreases as the student gets more expert.  I built a form of adaptable scaffolding in my 1993 dissertation project, Emile, which supported students building physics simulations in HyperTalk.  Yes, students using Emile could click on variables and fill in their values without directly editing the code, but there was also process guidance (“First, identify your goals; next, find your components in the Library”) and prompts to get students to reflect on what they’re doing.  And the scaffolding could be turned on or off, depending on student expertise.

I wouldn’t really call what Khan Academy has “scaffolding,” at least, not the way that Cindy and I defined it, nor in a way that I find compatible with Wood, Bruner, and Ross’s original definition.  There’s not really a tutor or a teacher.  There are videos as I learned from this blog post, and later found for myself.  The intro video (currently available on the main Khan Academy page) says that students should just “intuit” how the code works.  Really?  There’s a lot more of this belief that students should just teach themselves what code does.  The “scaffolding” in Khan Academy has no kind of process modeling or guidance, nothing to explain to students what they’re doing or why, nothing to encourage them to explain it to themselves.

It is a very cool text editor.  But it’s a text editor.  I don’t see it as a revolution in computer science education — not yet, anyway.  Now, maybe it’s way of supporting “collaborative floundering” which has been suggested to be even more powerful than scaffolding as a learning activity.  Maybe they’re right, and this will be the hook to get thousands of adolescents interested in programming.  (I wonder if they tested with any adolescents before they released?)  Khan has a good track record for attracting attention — I look forward to seeing where this goes.

The heart of the design places a simplified, interactive text editor that sits adjacent to the code’s drawing output, which updates in real time as students explore how different variables and numbers change the size, shapes, and colors of their new creation. An optional video guides students through the lesson, step-by-step, and, most importantly, can be paused at any point so that they can tinker with the drawing as curiosity and confusion arise during the process.

This part is key: learning is contextual and idiosyncratic; students better absorb new material if they can learn at their own pace and see the result of different options in realtime.

The pedagogy fits squarely into what educators called “scaffolded problem-based learning” [PDF]; students solve real-life problems and are encouraged to explore, but are guided by a teacher along the way, who can point out novel ways of accomplishing the task. Scaffolded learning acknowledges that real-life problems always have more than one path to a solution, that students learn best by doing, and that curiosity should drive exploration. This last point is perhaps the most important, since one of the primary barriers to boosting science-related college majors is a lack of interest.

via Khan Academy Launches The Future of Computer Science Education | TechCrunch.

August 15, 2012 at 8:32 am 27 comments

25 years of HyperCard—the missing link to the Web | Ars Technica

An interesting argument: That Web browsers were designed based on HyperCard, and that HyperCard’s major flaw was a lack of hypertext links across computers.

How did creator Bill Atkinson define HyperCard? “Simply put, HyperCard is a software erector set that lets non-programmers put together interactive information,” he told the Computer Chronicles in 1987.

When Tim Berners-Lee’s innovation finally became popular in the mid-1990s, HyperCard had already prepared a generation of developers who knew what Netscape was for. That’s why the most apt historical analogy for HyperCard is best adapted not from some failed and forgotten innovation, but from a famous observation about Elvis Presley. Before anyone on the World Wide Web did anything, HyperCard did everything.

via 25 years of HyperCard—the missing link to the Web | Ars Technica.

June 20, 2012 at 8:07 am 4 comments

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