Additional profile information on Alfred Thompson at Google+
Thanks to a link from Dan Fernandez I found out that Coding 4 Fun has information about programming the Wiimote (Wii Game Controller) using either Visual Basic .NET or C#. There is sample code and instructions. Looks interesting even if I don't have a Wii. Maybe I'll buy a controller.
Mark Guzdial gives a snapshot look at a research student done by several of his graduate students on how programmers who learn on their own actually program. A lot of interesting things there. Things like these programmers use a lot more FOR loops than WHILE loops. They use more TRY-CATCH blocks than WHILE loops as well. Who knew that TRY-CATCH was either more easy to learn or more important to learn (unclear which) than WHILE loops.
Oh and self-taught programmers seldom write their own classes. What does that say about the naturalness of classes? That one doesn't surprise me that much BTW. I have come to the conclusion that the pendulum towards objects (object first, last and always) has swung too far in one direction. I think a swing back to somewhere in the middle (use classes where they make things easier but don't use them when they make things harder and more confusing) is inevitable.
I hope this paper is published somewhere I can get a copy of it. I suspect that there is a lot we can learn by studying how people learn to program on their own.
Which reminds me - I wonder how often the GOTO statement showed up in self-taught programmers programs? Did they even find it? Did they find it useful?
Pace University in New York City is running their Seidenberg Summer Experience program again this coming summer. This is an outstanding summer program that seems to have gotten great reviews following its initial year last summer. (I wrote about that almost a year ago.)
I really like the idea that they work in teams. Teamwork is such a critical skill these days. I would imagine that for many of the students accepted for this selective program this will be the first time the get to be members of a team of equals.
And of course they get a real college experience in one of the world's most exciting cities! I know that the chance for a college experience while still in high school have been of huge benefit for a number of students I have known over the years.
For a smart, knowledgeable and well-rounded student this may be the opportunity of a lifetime.