How to put LiveCode in the hands of more teachers/students

Share tips, tools, and other resources for helping educators bring LiveCode into the classroom

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How to put LiveCode in the hands of more teachers/students

Post by tore–nilsen » Sat Feb 27, 2016 10:42 pm

Following a discussion in the use-list, Richard Gaskin challenged me to share my thoughts in this forum. I hope you will excuse the length of this, as I am known to be without any restraints when I am placed in front of a keyboard with a blank canvas before me.

As a teacher in upper secondary school in Norway I use LiveCode for two different purposes:

a) As a tool to make educational software “on the fly”. I find LiveCode to be an invaluable resource, if and when I encounter a situation where I can see that my students will benefit from using digital learning material. I can easily make an application that will either help my students in the process of understanding a particular topic, practice skills or solve problems. Since I am making my own pedagogical software, I can be quite certain that it will fulfil the needs of my students, and myself, at any given time. This is in my opinion a great time saver, as I do not have to spend time looking for a solution for my particular problem(s), only to discover, half way through the process, that the chosen application does not have the content or the methods I am looking for.

I think a lot of teachers would benefit from being able to make their own software. This is one area where I think LiveCode as a company should focus their effort and where educators using LiveCode can contribute. Most teachers would be happy to use the community edition of LiveCode, so in order to make some money out of this, LiveCode should put together a course package, that could be sold at a reasonable price, either to individual teachers, to single schools or to groups of schools.

Educators using LiveCode could help put together such a course. The content of the course should be delivered as media rich content with video lessons, text material and sample stacks to show a variety of possible solutions. Educators familiar with LiveCode could also be listed as “certified” instructors. If this is done right, LiveCode should then be able to offer this course both with or without instructors.Schools and teachers will have the opportunity to decide whether to do this on a personal basis or as a part of the schools effort to enhance the skills of its teachers.

b) I also use LiveCode as the preferred tool to teach programming to our last year students in an upper secondary school in Norway. It is not necessary for the students to have any prior knowledge or experience in programming or coding, and only a handful of them do have such knowledge. I have found LiveCode to be a very good tool in this course. The main reason being that my students can concentrate on learning and understanding the principles behind programming, as they already do understand most of the basic syntax. I have found that LiveCode easily adapts to our national curriculum, and in some parts actually makes it easier for my students to perform at the highest level of competence, as it is described in the competence aims in the curriculum.

In my opinion LiveCode should try to put together a package of resources that can help teachers to use LiveCode in accordance with the competence aims of their respective curriculums. The resources should ideally be localised and presented in native language wherever possible. The content of these resources should be linked to the different competence aims of the curriculums, with a clear explanation of how different techniques demonstrates important principles in programming.

This is also on area where educators can help out, choosing the appropriate resources based on their personal knowledge off their curriculums and experiences as teachers. It should be possible to come up with suggested year plans to help teachers to use LiveCode as their preferred tool for teaching programming. Such plans could serve as an interactive “menu” by which the students could access the different resources. These resources could be webpages, videos, downloadable stacks, presentations and text files.

LiveCode could sell these packages together with an Indy licence at reduced price for teachers, a hosting solution for schools and offer a community for both students and teachers alike, thereby making it possible for a wider network of students and teachers to collaborate. As with the course for helping teachers to make their own software, educators familiar with LiveCode could become “certified” instructors, and LiveCode could offer introduction courses in using LiveCode as a tool for teaching programming.

Another area into which LiveCode could venture, is the ever-growing area of code-club initiatives. Many of the aforementioned resources could be targeted at this segment, and both teachers and other users of LiveCode could use these resources to offer LiveCode as a tool for children and youth who would like to learn how to program, out of school.

I do appreciate the fact that these suggestions will demand personell, time and financial support from LiveCode, and that the company may not have the sufficient amount of resources to back such initiatives. I still think it is important that the company invests time and resources to reach out to the educational sector, and that it does so in a manner that will make them a viable player in this market. They need to be visible in the most important arena where the future customers and users are.

In the last five years, I have been attending the BETT-show in London, on the behalf of my school on several occasions. For those unfamiliar with the BETT-show, it is the largest expo of tech in education in Europe, and it attracts thousands of teachers, school management, network administrators and others with a connection to education, from all over Europe. Even though I often find most of what happens there to be of lesser interest, I can’t help but thinking that LiveCode should consider participating. I don’t know the cost of participating, and my guess is it would not be cheap to have a decent sized stand. In my opinion the most successful stands are those who not only put a product on display. In order to make an impact, it should be possible to have fringe seminars within the stand, where the audience could see demonstrations of the capabilities of LiveCode. Such demonstrations could also be in area where educators could help out.

I hope that educators who use LiveCode on different levels, will be given a chance to discuss how we can contribute to bring LiveCode into schools, as a part of the conference in Edinburgh. I am attending the conference, and I would very much like to take part in both a discussion about the future of LiveCode in education, and any initiative that may come from it.

Regards
Tore Nilsen

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Re: How to put LiveCode in the hands of more teachers/studen

Post by FourthWorld » Sun Feb 28, 2016 12:39 am

Tore, thanks for posting this. You offer a clear and actionable vision for increasing the role of LiveCode for the benefit of the educational community.

I just sent an email to a number of educators I know who use LiveCode in their work, and I'm sure we'll see much conversation here in the coming days to flesh out the ideas you've presented here into workplans.

Although I'm lacking in areas of pedagogy and EDU workflows, I would be happy to contribute code and tools to see these initiatives through, and to work with Max Shafer to help coordinate any communications with the core dev team at LiveCode Ltd that may be needed.
Richard Gaskin
Community volunteer LiveCode Community Liaison

LiveCode development, training, and consulting services: Fourth World Systems: http://FourthWorld.com
LiveCode User Group on Facebook : http://FaceBook.com/groups/LiveCodeUsers/

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Re: How to put LiveCode in the hands of more teachers/studen

Post by Rauterkus » Sun Feb 28, 2016 3:07 am

Hi All,

I do not think that LiveCode can go to the front of the classroom in USA K-12 schools just yet. Few teachers are going to take the risk to use LiveCode with their students in classes on their own in 2016. Won't happen. Long term, that should be a goal.

With the limited resources and energy, IMHO, it makes great sense to get LiveCode into the school setting under the umbrella of a "grant." Some educators LOVE grants and the grant process and grant award carries some urgency and street credit. I have such a grant opportunity / possibility to pitch to you all in another thread.

Furthermore, I think it makes great sense to get LiveCode into the schools with computer clubs, sports teams, after-school activities, drama, music, coaches, mentors, and career / job readiness efforts. Once student leaders, teams, and boosters are using LiveCode for fun, productive, personal and small group deployments in meaningful ways, then LiveCode comes to the attention of school principals, educational leaders, computer lab teachers.

Mark Rauterkus

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Re: How to put LiveCode in the hands of more teachers/studen

Post by tore–nilsen » Sun Feb 28, 2016 1:25 pm

Mark: I appreciate the fact that the funding of Norwegian schools compare favourably to many other countries, and that this to some degree will affect the probability of getting LiveCode into the classrooms in countries where funding is more of an issue. Unfortunately there is not much we as a LiveCode community can do about these kinds of issues. They need to be tackled on a national/regional or local level. What we can address, and what I think we should address, is the sad fact that very few teachers know anything about LiveCode at all. If we are to be successful in any attempt to persuade teachers to give LiveCode a try, we must make sure that they are convinced that it can do the job, and that they as teachers will have access to the resources they need in order to help their students achieve the goals in their respective curriculums.

As LiveCode users we emphasise how easy it is to use LiveCode. I think this may just as well turn teachers away from using LiveCode. The perception of LiveCode may well be that it is "too easy" to use, and that it is not a tool suited for their courses. What we then need to do, is to make sure that they really understand the capabilities of LiveCode and how it can be used to make students reach the competence aims in their curriculum. If we are to be successful in persuading teacher to switch to LiveCode, we must provide them with a set of resources that will ease the transition from whatever they are using today, to LiveCode. We must also make sure that these resources are closely linked to their curriculum, and presented in a manner that clearly shows this connection.

I do agree that we may well have to use "stealth strategies" to achieve this. I think your list of ways to make LiveCode visible in schools makes very good sense. I can see no conflict between putting together much needed resources for teachers and such strategies. On the contrary, I think they go hand in hand. If we can also manage to put together a package of resources that can show each individual teacher how she or he can use LiveCode to provide students with targeted digital learning material, the understanding of the capabilities of LiveCode will increase.

What also needs to be figured out is where do we meet teachers who may be willing to give LiveCode a try. This is where I think that it is crucial that LiveCode as a company steps forward. Having an enthusiastic base of users is unfortunately not enough. Said enthusiasts may well do the job "on the ground", but they must represent the company, not themselves. This is one of the reasons why I think we must have well thought out LiveCode branded packages of resources. Armed with these resources, and with the backing of the company, we can promote LiveCode at educational conferences, meet-ups, at institutions etc. Your idea of digital badges would fit nicely into this, as far as I understand your ideas. We could use these different events to promote LiveCode and hand out both community versions of LiveCode as well as other resources.

If we then also can provide teachers with an active and thriving community of educators and students, they may feel more inclined to give it a try in their classrooms. It is not important whether or not LiveCode is the only tool they use. The important thing is that more teachers start to use LiveCode at all.

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Re: How to put LiveCode in the hands of more teachers/studen

Post by Rauterkus » Sun Feb 28, 2016 4:48 pm

Spot on.
If we are to be successful in persuading teacher to switch to LiveCode, we must provide them with a set of resources that will ease the transition from whatever they are using today, to LiveCode.
Today, in the USA, much of the school setting is directed to teaching students how to do well on tests. Teaching to the tests. It is a short-sighted objective, IMHO, but it is what has been dominating the leadership in the schools. Test results. Merit pay based on test results.

With that in mind, there are many schools with kids in grades 10, 11 and 12, that may embrace JAVA because there is a JAVA AP Exam. These AP courses have tough tests. They are standardized. They often come with college credit if the student does well on the tests and if the college they are going to attend values those scores and subject tests. Lots of AP exams are for lots of subject areas: English, Math, Calc, History, etc.

It will be impossible if not just really HARD to have an AP EXAM on LiveCode. But, that would open up the flood gates.

Perhaps a FAIR, CONTEST, PRIZE for best in its class project for youth computer science, high school computer programming and/or smart-phone app making might be great. Then the teachers and students can have a school-focused purpose and reason to deploy LiveCode.

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Re: How to put LiveCode in the hands of more teachers/studen

Post by tore–nilsen » Sun Feb 28, 2016 5:26 pm

It will be impossible if not just really HARD to have an AP EXAM on LiveCode. But, that would open up the flood gates.
It is interesting and useful to learn how things work in other educational systems. In Norway the curriculum is much more open ended, not favouring any particular programming language as long as it is possible to achieve the competence aims put forward in the national curriculum. I still think it will be useful if we can manage to link resources and techniques to specific aims in the different curriculums. This way we at least will have demonstrated that LiveCode indeed can be used to teach programming. Doing so will also assist anyone who would have a go at convincing school admins that LiveCode is viable solution.

It would of course also be interesting to have examples of the tests and exams the students have to sit, in order to see how LiveCode can fit in. I will, over the coming days post examples of tasks given to Norwegian students in year 13, for their final exam. I will just have to translate them first. I will also post a translation of the national curriculum for the subject called "Information Technology 2", which is the subject where LiveCode is a relevant tool.

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Re: How to put LiveCode in the hands of more teachers/studen

Post by wprothero » Sun Feb 28, 2016 7:50 pm

I'm re-posting this from the listserve.

Tore,
Your idea has a lot of merit. In the early Apple days, HyperCard was very popular with educators. It was simple and revolutionary as a programming environment, and free with the computer. Livecode has the capability for this now, especially with the widgets and even more with Monte's wonderful additions.

I too see warning signs in the regular modifications of the payment options by the mothership. We are all truly screwed if they would go under.

The landscape in education is quite different now, of course. I am a retired educator and used Director to deliver assignments where students could access real Earth data, write papers, review their peers' papers, see their grades, etc. I am currently rewriting much of that material in Livecode. My interest is in general education and critical thinking, rather than teaching programming. But the mothership could get a lot of publicity by creating a repository of educational apps built in livecode, indexed by subject, grade level, and (for the US) the common core standards. The ability to deliver these apps over a range of devices, including mobile and Raspberry Pi would be a huge incentive.

I can see a use for a "framework" for delivering educational apps. For example, is it really necessary to write a new login/password/password recovery code by each teacher who wants to create an assignment as part of a course? I have just finished a beta version of such a framework and it took me a substantial amount of time. Another looming issue for me is integration with Learning Management systems, like Moodle, which is widely used and open source. There is SCORM, LTI, and now "Common Cartridge". When I read the docs on these systems, my eyeballs roll back in my head and I know I will be taking on a huge trek into IT-land. Sample stacks that implemented these interfaces would be invaluable to higher Ed teachers, and me in particular.

What would be extremely useful to me (which is what I'm creating) would be a configurable login system that can respond to "anybody", "a student in a class", or a "teacher who registers a class that students can sign up for". Details like forgotten passwords and/or class registration codes need to be dealt with. A feature I haven't come to grips with is auto-updating of software, and I will need to query Richard G to sort this out. All of these features have been vital when I was teaching an oceanography class to 300 students.

If there was an effort like this, I think it must be led by, or at least strongly managed, by those with actual experience in education, who will test their materials in actual learning situations. The entire effort could be a big undertaking.

Some ideas, off the top of my head: LC could offer some services to a volunteer team who would visualize and develop this with a goal of it eventually being incorporated into the mothership's product offering. One of my concerns is what will happen to my own work in the future. Life can be too short. Contributing to a larger effort would be satisfying. I would see it as having some of the ideas or features of the Khan Academy. There could be lessons on specific topics (programming in LC, or physics, for example) that teachers could create, or download, or apps that stand alone. Educator/developers could access various frameworks to help them get started. Perhaps there could be some way of rewarding developers of apps that are used widely. The mothership would provide a server resource to host the effort and a reasonable sized group of developer/educators could be formed to formulate and visualize the project.

That's it for now. Others may chime in. Perhaps there is some part of this vision that is shared by others.

Best,
Bill

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Re: How to put LiveCode in the hands of more teachers/studen

Post by wprothero » Sun Feb 28, 2016 8:11 pm

A few more possibilities:
In education, there are some commonly created kinds of applications that teachers would be inclined to create. A set of frameworks for these kinds of apps has the potential to entice them to try livecode and to become more advanced livecode users. I've made a list below and it's most likely not complete.

There could be an online course, like the Create-IT course (but better reviewed and edited prior to going public), that would lead new users through some of the education frameworks and create a useful app for their own classroom. The Create-IT course emphasized existing mobile apps, which would be useful for developers trying to start a business, but way too off topic for teachers.

Here are some things that are commonly done at the K-12 levels:
1. multiple choice quizzes
2. explanatory videos or apps
3. writing activities. Most writing is tedious to grade. Lots could be done to make this easier.
4. learning games. (simulations, puzzles)
5. access to measures of student learning (assignment or quiz scores, or other metrics)

At the higher ed level:
1. everything at the K-12 levels.
2. Connections to Learning management systems (Moodle, etc) using "Common Cartridge", LTI, Scorm, etc.
3. Writing activity support. Peer review. Grading writing assignments is a HUGE barrier for higher ed teachers. There are ways to make this much easier for teachers. I've done it in Director (now obsolete) and am planning to do more in livecode.
3. stuff I haven't thought of.

What I'm thinking is that there are widgets now in LC8 for common interface items that are quite attractive to programmers. What about widgets focused on common educational applications?

I think one good way to attract teachers is to post some of teacher created apps on pInterest and other sharing sites that are popular with K-12 teachers.

That's it for now.
Bill

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Re: How to put LiveCode in the hands of more teachers/studen

Post by tore–nilsen » Sun Feb 28, 2016 8:22 pm

Bill, I think you are absolutely right, and from how I understand Richard, this how he thinks as well.
LC could offer some services to a volunteer team who would visualise and develop this with a goal of it eventually being incorporated into the mothership's product offering.
I hope that we can have educators in the LC community contribute to this effort in any way they possibly can. What we need to do for a start is to set up a framework for a volunteer team to start working. We will need to share information both about curriculums, exams, the structure of different school systems etc. in order to be able to come up with a strategy that will allow us to build a catalogue of resources that can be used by teachers from different countries. And we will of course need to decide on what resources to put into such a catalogue. And in doing this we need the help of experienced educators.

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Re: How to put LiveCode in the hands of more teachers/studen

Post by tore–nilsen » Sun Feb 28, 2016 8:23 pm

+ 100
What I'm thinking is that there are widgets now in LC8 for common interface items that are quite attractive to programmers. What about widgets focused on common educational applications?

I think one good way to attract teachers is to post some of teacher created apps on pInterest and other sharing sites that are popular with K-12 teachers.

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Re: How to put LiveCode in the hands of more teachers/studen

Post by wprothero » Sun Feb 28, 2016 10:15 pm

Tore:
I think it would be a good idea to see if a strategy could emerge from the folks that are reading these postings. Personally, I'm re-building a lot of the software I did in Director, for a large college level oceanography class. My work contains several ways I could break out a "framework". If the mothership is interested in supporting a group effort to create some frameworks, and examples of their use, they could start by setting up a place for us to interact and post stacks, where we could interact review and optimize. Perhaps gitHub, or a wiki?? I do believe that before folks start posting stacks, though, some kind of basic discussion of what kinds of "frameworks" might be useful to start with. Also we would want to interact with the mothership, probably through Richard Gaskin, to figure out the best way to set this up.

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Re: How to put LiveCode in the hands of more teachers/studen

Post by maxs » Sun Feb 28, 2016 10:22 pm

Hi, Max Schafer here. This is my first time reading this post and I am really impressed with the ideas, time, and effort you all have put into this subject. I’d like to repond to some good ideas.

Tore says, “ LiveCode should put together a course package.” Yes, I want to a kid-friendly course with emphasis on breaking down concepts into easier chunks, more focus on young people’s needs, like animation and games. This could be a good group project among us if any of you are interested. Also, I was with Livecode at BETT a few years ago. I was showing my “Math Gadgets” app. The Livecode booth was so small we were like ants among elelphants.

Rauterkus says “Few teachers are going to take the risk to use LiveCode with their students in classes on their own in 2016.” I believe the only reason why it’s not in classrooms is because teachers have not been trained to use and teach Livecode. Everyone I know has fallen in Love with it, once they use it. Can you help us find a grant?

Tore says, “we can promote LiveCode at educational conferences, meet-ups, at institutions etc.” YES, I am currently teaching Livecode in an after school High School classroom. I think I will start researching potiential conventions around the country.

Rauterkus says “a FAIR, CONTEST, PRIZE for best in its class project for youth computer science, high school computer programming and/or smart-phone app”. I’m confident I can get Livecode to sponsor one. Would you be interested in setting it up? I’d be happy to work with you on it.

Bill -Wprothero says “a volunteer team who would visualize and develop this with a goal of it eventually being incorporated into the mothership's product offering.” Yes, I believe there are enough of us here to get a team together.

Bill -Wprotheros “teacher created apps on pinInterest” Great, great, ideas that is so easy to implement. We can start with the user-created apps already posted for sharing at Livecode.

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Re: How to put LiveCode in the hands of more teachers/studen

Post by Rauterkus » Sun Feb 28, 2016 10:48 pm

I am asking for an EDU event with a LiveCode focus in Pittsburgh from any time from May 2017 to August 2017, if we get the grant. I think we are in a chicken and egg situation too. The grant could come if I get the support to do the event as a wrap-up event.

So, yes. I would be HAPPY to work with the greater community and the company to host a LiveCode focused EDU event in more than a year.

Perhaps in year one, it is a "contest" or a "science fair." Some type of show-and-tell would work too. So, I'm flexible as to what exactly to do. But, I want it to be in Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

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Re: How to put LiveCode in the hands of more teachers/studen

Post by Rauterkus » Sun Feb 28, 2016 10:51 pm

LiveCode TEST making and taking Source Code app would be WONDERFUL.

About a year ago I looked for a test writing app. I found something, but it was older and it wasn't open source. I gave it a whirl and it was an interesting approach. Worth the $50. But, I still don't have what I need and crave.

A multiple choice, open source, TEST maker app should be at the top of the list and perhaps its own THREAD. I love that project idea.

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Re: How to put LiveCode in the hands of more teachers/studen

Post by tore–nilsen » Sun Feb 28, 2016 11:12 pm

Hi Max, I would gladly take part in an effort to put together both a package aimed at students of different levels, but also one aimed at teachers, to help them find a way to use LiveCode in the classroom, both as a way to teach programming with LiveCode, but also to use LiveCode as a tool to provide digital solutions to everyday challenges. And I would strongly suggest that we take care to not make it US/UK centric only. I can take on the task to try to get to grips with the curriculums in the Scandinavian countries, to see what we need to provide for students and teachers in these countries.

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