Play My Code in Education?

Posted: by Seb under Play My Code Announcements

It would seem that 2012 is shaping up to be a year of programming hitting mainstream education in the UK, with the Raspberry Pi finally gearing up for release and Michael Gove’s recent announcement that computer science will replace the useless ICT curriculum, under which the British bedroom coding tradition of the 1980s practically withered up and died. But pleasantly surprising is that Play My Code – a project conceived initially as little more than an easy way to make browser-based games – seems to be becoming a part of this.

Today, Preston-based Computer Science teacher Alan O’Donohoe (aka @teknoteacher) absolutely made our month by releasing some recordings of his pupils’ experiences of using PMC:

The implication seems to be that children especially enjoy hacking, forking and modifying code to see what makes it tick, with the suggestion that the user is “allowed” to do thisĀ on Play My Code being particularly profound in a world which some might argue is rapidly being closed off as far as open computing is concerned. I might be so bold as to compare it to when I was young, breaking open my toys to see what was inside. (PS, we’ll be getting search in there as soon as we can guys!)

We should also mention that @teknoteacher is involved in organising Hack to the Future – a Barcamp-style event aimed at children who want to learn programming – which takes place at Our Lady’s High School in Preston on February 11th. More details here, apparently there are still limited tickets left for groups of pupils.

Meanwhile, BBC researcher @sparks_rd warmed our hearts with the following tweet: “Well, @playmycode passes the ‘can they (8 & 9 year olds) just get on and make games test’. Will be making some tutorials over xmas methinks” (link to tweet). The prospect of our site being used as a learning tool by minds so young and inquisitive is genuinely amazing, and the fact that young kidsĀ  are taking to it so easily certainly reassures us that PMC is as easy to use as we intended.

Finally, the slightly more mysterious Curtos has also been using Play My Code as a teaching aid, having created a basic yet nicely-written, fully commented Pong game for his class of high schoolers. Do check it out if you’re learning the ropes, as it’s a very good example with plenty of room to take things further- fork it and see what you can do. In fact, this was used as the basis of another of @teknoteacher’s lessons:

Extracts from Year 7 Computing lesson “Play My Code” @playmycode (mp3)

All of this has left us wondering: what is Play My Code, and where do we take things from here? We originally intended to create a “YouTube of games” of sorts, and rather short-sightedly never even considered the possibility of it being used as an educational tool. We’ll certainly be thinking about the direction things will be taking from here on in.

One thing we do know is: if you’re reading this, are an educator and are interested in using Play My Code as part of your class, please do get in touch via Twitter, the forum or just drop me a line at seb@playmycode.com- we would be both thrilled & honoured to offer any help and support we can.

10 Responses to Play My Code in Education?

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  • Giorgio_Sotiro

    "the direction things will be taking from here on in" : I'll put in the table an humble example: Play My Code should (progressively) be a cutting edge space station (as much as possible) that even a ...toddler can control. But do not include inside this space station clowns, mimes, unicorns and stuff like that...... I let you think the real things. (Finally, consider to review some good points from a developer's view point: http://www.playmycode.com/forum/topic/11 )

    Giorgio_Sotiro

    Note: My intention is not malicious. I just consciously ringing the bell of alarm, as a very simple user of PMC's services.

    SD

    Not to be offensive, but that finally explains all the pong clones that shouldn't actually be there.

    Seb

    @SD: Each of those Pong/forked games represents someone learning to program. There's absolutely no reason why they shouldn't be there. I concede there could be better, community-driven ways of presenting/filtering the more "pro" games from the "beginner" ones though.

    Giorgio_Sotiro

    Well, after a time of thinking, personally I would really like to see PMC to take the direction of being an educational tool, (that is, PMC as an educational tool to learn Real programming, [basically, this is how I use PMC, as a tool to learn programming]). But again, I would not like to see PMC to turn into a "kindergarten"... (PMC should attract both professional developers and passionate youths about developing, and that should be well balanced.) Regards, Giorgio.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/teacher-network/2012/jan/24/top-ten-computer-science-teaching-resources See item 7.

    Seb

    @tony yeah, we tweeted about that- been too busy to blog about it yet though..!

    Giorgio_Sotiro

    Play My Code were mentioned at ... http://www1.cyfernet.org/act-CYFAR/mom/02-12-gamedesign/ ... among other well known (educative) tools. They have also created a brief overview about PMC ... http://www1.cyfernet.org/act%2DCYFAR/mom/02%2D12%2Dgamedesign/playcode.pdf

    Giorgio_Sotiro

    Personally, I am not a fan of this, but it may be useful for some specific users (like a person of small age, who now starts to learn to program) to have a Visual Programming Editor to work with, like "blockly", a web-based, graphical programming language by Google: " http://code.google.com/p/blockly ". So, PMC may think, as an education tool that seems to be among other uses, to implement a feature like this.

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