Many younger students in today’s society are learning how to program using Alice. Alice makes learning programming fun & is rather simple, which is why students younger & younger are starting to enjoy the wonders of Alice.
Why Alice is so well received by students?
Alice is an interactive program that students can use to learn computer programming, without even knowing it. Alice also currently uses packages that include linking with The Sims 2, to allow for an even more pleasant experience. Alice allows the student to select a variant of objects to “add to the story board” in order to create stories, games & videos.
Students are allowed to enter a plethora of different worlds based on the packages Alice offers. Based off of the package the student picks he is then given the option to select items he can add to the “story board.” As a result students are learning about if-else & various other programming fundamentals.
Why Alice may not be received well by students?
There is no age restriction on Alice so anyone can use it. From speaking with various educators over the years about Alice, it would appear the “niche” for Alice is at the middle school level. The thought process is the software is a little too advanced for those from pre-K through fifth grade & a bit behind them as far as high school students are concerned.
There are also a few quirks getting used to in Alice that some students may not have the patience to “play around with.” Another issue arrives in the fact that students view the software as a game, so the response may not be what you’d expect if you, the teacher, attempt to use one of the lessons listed on Alice’s website. In some cases the exact opposite is the case, where students want to hop right in & play around instead of watching/listening through a lecture on Alice – some of us learn the most when we are doing things on our own.
Why Alice is so well received by teachers/educators?
There are three primary reasons why Alice is so well received by teachers/educators of all venues.
Firstly, Alice is free to download. Due to this an administrator is more likely to allow your class to utilize it, because there is no cost involved. It also takes up very little space, so it may be possible to store it on all of your classroom computers, rather than just the head teachers’ computer.
Secondly, Alice offers tutorials, help & a wide range of other simplified information to allow the students to have the best experience they possibly can. It is also possible to integrate Alice into the curriculum due to three different books featuring lesson plans (varying from 2 to 4 weeks in total). At $70 the book is well worth the investment considering it will allow you to better educate your students on how to properly utilize Alice.
Thirdly and most importantly is the “hook” factor. When I was a high school student, many of my friends went to college for computer science or another computer related field. By time I graduated fewer & fewer students were going to higher education for anything computer related. Having software like this which is not only fun but educational as well may “hook” the student into wanting to study something computer related later in life.
Why Alice may not be received well by teachers/educators?
There are two main reasons why teachers/educators frown upon using Alice inside the classroom & neither of which do I think should prevent them from using Alice in the classroom.
Firstly, teachers/educators may find it too difficult to learn Alice themselves & don’t want to proceed with using Alice in the classroom & attempting to teach it when they are unsure of themselves. Simple solutions are as follows: some teachers spend all summer preparing for the next school year, why not at least take a few days to learn the software. The college who created Alice usually offers seminars during the summer which you can attend. Did I stress the countless tutorials, forums & help page?
Secondly, due to the structure of Alice it may be looked upon as a “game” which puts teachers/educators off from using it. Very simple solutions…..ask your district if you could use it in your classroom. If you receive a no, write up a synopsis as to why Alice would be beneficial in the classroom. Chances are if you show why something can be beneficial it will be approved, rather than blindly asking to use it.
My Summary of Alice Programming
- Students will love it if you allow them the time to figure out what they’re doing.
- Teachers can easily integrate it into their curriculum.
- Beneficial in creating future computer students.
- It’s free!