[IAEP] Nice tool for learning Python

Alan Kay alan.nemo at yahoo.com
Sun Jan 29 08:55:11 EST 2012

Hi Tabitha

I don't think the premise of this system is for Python programming to be "discovered" while doing it, and I didn't see any claims for this. 

It simple "makes the invisible more visible" when manipulating computer entities and invoking processes that are usually shrouded at best.

Systems like Etoys and Scratch need this particular visualization less because they have mostly visible objects that are being given behaviors (and which also in Etoys' case have visible data structures -- e.g. "Holders" etc -- as well). The programmers can see the changes in the already visible objects. (That is partly the point in how they are designed for beginners.)

But these systems use a lot of parallel invocations, so one could imagine a facility like Bob Balzer's EXDAMS (in the 60s!) that captured all of the behavior for a stretch and allow it to be played forward and backward deterministically to help the programmer understand what was going on and the communications between objects.

I think the main point here is that it really helps any programmer, and especially beginners, when the computer can be used to aid both their short term memories and abilities in visualizing the consequences of their code.

A system like the Python visualizer is especially useful for low-level imperative-type data structure munging programming (and Python is often learned in this way).



> From: Tabitha Roder <tabitha at tabitha.net.nz>
>To: Steve Thomas <sthomas1 at gosargon.com> 
>Cc: iaep <iaep at lists.sugarlabs.org> 
>Sent: Sunday, January 29, 2012 1:29 AM
>Subject: Re: [IAEP] Nice tool for learning Python
>On 28 January 2012 17:28, Steve Thomas <sthomas1 at gosargon.com> wrote:
>Just found this: http://people.csail.mit.edu/pgbovine/python/
>>This tool looks like an amazing tool for someone who already understands programming concepts to teach with but it seems a stretch for someone to learn on their own with this tool by itself. 
>The first example code is "aliasing" but doesn't explain what a variable is, or a function, or a list. It might be possible to discover these concepts using the simulator but it is probably better explained in words. 
>Does anyone know of a suitable ebook or tutorial which the simulator could be used with? Thinking of the cases where there is no one to guide the student. 
>IAEP -- It's An Education Project (not a laptop project!)
>IAEP at lists.sugarlabs.org
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