I have made over 100 posts and I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned Alice yet!
Alice is an awesome 3D programming environment that allows you to create games and fun animations. The BEST part about Alice is it’s FREE and it’s based on the Java language, oh baby! I have always loved Java and I have enjoyed teaching Java and Object-Oriented Design with the Unified Modeling Language (UML) along with a little dash of systems analysis and design in my past tertiary teaching.
The potential problem with Java in the primary or high school classrooms is that it may be viewed as “boring” or “tedious” if using a traditional integrated development environment (IDE) like NetBeans. Alice is different! Alice teaches students how to program in a fun and easy way. First you select your objects (Person, Fairy, Rocket Ship etc) using intuitive drag & drop features and then you choose from lists (behaviours of the object/instance or the object’s attributes) to do something (events). Students can then explore with looping, sequencing, creating their own Classes (to make objects from), creating their own methods etc. All of this and no actual Java code is typed by the student!
Last year I was on a professional teaching experience and a Year 10 class was playing around with Alice and Scratch (they had a choice). The task they were assigned to do was about designing a story (written) and then finding ways to create the story video/game in Alice or Scratch. Alice is far superior to Scratch in my opinion and so I was pleased that the majority of the student’s had decided to use Alice. Scratch looks childish whereas there are more modern, “cooler” things in Alice. I personally don’t think Scratch is as intuitive as Alice either. The fun part for me was that the Year 10 students and their teacher had no idea how amazing Alice actually was and I had the opportunity to show-off some of the “beauty” that I saw in Alice. 🙂 I showed students how Alice was related specifically to Object Oriented Programming and Java. I was so excited and I know I got some students excited about computer programming.
Here’s my quick (1-night) attempt at Alice last year, using Alice 2.3.1. My goal with this video was to show students how to use loops and create their own methods.
My son was 8 years old then and I had him play around with Alice. He achieved a lot and he really enjoyed Alice so I think Alice would be great in both primary and high schools.
To give Alice a go you will need to download it first HERE. You DO NOT need to be a computer programmer to figure out how to use Alice; my 8 year old could do it, so can you! If you need a bit of help, deeper understanding or want tutorials to follow have a look under the Teaching tab of the Alice website for more help and related textbooks.