Contacted our local Pearson rep yesterday in order to request an evaluation copy of the Introduction to Programming with Greenfoot Object-Oriented Programming in Java with Games and Simulations textbook. Disappointingly enough I have heard no word from them. I have received several good responses on the Greenfoot IDE and system of teaching java and I hope that the lack of action on the part of our sales rep is does not cause me to have to make an adjustment in my plans. Oddly enough, as a private individual buying one book at a time, I can get them $20 cheaper on Amazon than the advertised price at Pearson.
On the other hand, from what I have been able to glean, the methodology that the Greenfoot system uses is sound. It is a modified BlueJ IDE (if you know Java, you’ll know what that is) that, aside from being color coordinated, allows the teaching of not only Java but the concepts of Object Oriented Programming as well. In a nut shell you teach people to write small, self-contained units of code that solve small simple problems and then put them together like Legos to solve bigger problems. It’s all about code reuse and not reinventing the wheel. For example, if I have a requirement for a program that connects to a database and stores street address and contact information and exports it I can, instead of trying to write one large block of spaghetti code to do it all, find a routine that connects to databases, a chunk of code that exports data from a database, a class or two to move the information from the GUI to the database, and then put all those pieces together in a way that reflects the way things are organized in the real world. This methodology is currently in vogue in the programming industry and so it seems a good idea to teach students not only programming concepts like variables and loops and things that can be learned in any programming language, but also things like a useful syntax and the foundations of a relevant language. Besides…all my kids wanna mod Minecraft. If you can learn Java you can learn the “C” family of languages. If you can master both of those you can work anywhere.
On the other hand, I need to find a good solid curriculum to prepare high school students to take the A+ exam. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I have a very good background in desktop support (over 20 years in the business with experience in Mac, Linux, and all flavors of Windows from 3.1 up) and I know, generally, what will be on the test, but I might need a starting point for teaching all this to kiddos. Suggestions for self-contained tool kits would not be amiss either. If you had to put together a toolkit for basic computer repair, what would you use? I am thinking a set of precision screw drivers and that’s about it. You don’t really do a lot of soldering, multimeters aren’t that necessary, and, outside of a static strap, I am not sure what hand tools to include.
Once again, it is time for bed. Tomorrow is another day (an easy one since it is a half day before spring break) so I am calling it a night. Any suggestions, contacts from Computer Science teachers, moral support, or grants to upgrade the technology I have available are greatly appreciated.