I have a tendency to get excited about opportunities for kids. This year we were offered the opportunity to offer a dual-credit programming course to the kids. It is worth 3 General Ed college credits. The course is using Python. No big deal other than I have to learn Python faster than the kids can learn Python. Again, no big deal. So, in my infinite wisdom I started thinking (always a dangerous thing), what would it take to offer a course that will get the kids CS college credits? After a little email work to the people I know at the University all it would take is to offer a higher level Java course (CSCI 135) using the University syllabus and textbook. There is the little detail I have not worked with Java in 20 years and that experience gave me a very bad taste for it. Not the language’s fault, the guy teaching the course was probably a good programmer but he was a terrible teacher. So this year I am learning Python. For next year, if this course flies, I have to learn Java and I have to learn to spell nifty words like “polymorphism”. (I just have to keep in my mind “it is for the kids, it is for the kids”.) Luckily there is a diamond in the mud. The guy that is presently teaching the University’s CSCI 135 is a friend who is will to guide me through the trial and tribulations of Java and through understanding all the wiz bang words involved with a college level CS programming course. Another big plus is I can get the previous edition of the textbook for about $3 a pop.
Running in the background of this whole thing is the desire to modernize the programming part of our CS curriculum. If this course can be set up it will give me four solid semester long programming courses. Our present Programming 1 of Scratch and Small Basic, Prog II a dual credit Python course, Prog III a dual credit Java course and Prog IV an app/game writing course using Corona. I have taught the Corona course as a Prog II/III before and it was difficult. The knowledge to write a decent app, even a simple game, requires more than knowing a language. The kids that wanted to dedicate the time could do something with it but the average kid struggled.
As a private school we are in direct competition with the public school for students. Offering two dual-credit programming courses is a big arrow in our quiver. I doubt if students will be lining up at the door to get in because of these but if we attract one or two new kids it is worth it.
This is going to be a real busy summer.