Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Teaching and learning C online

This year in both our FE and HE programmes in Software Development, I am using C as the principle language. I feel that C as a structured introduction to programming has a lot to offer students new to the subject area. One of the many issues that arise when you teach any programming language I have found is going to be that of a compiler. If the institute make use of a licensed product, as we do, then students either have to purchase it, or make use of a freeware or trial version. Having students using different products can cause a few difficulties, certainly in the early stages of the course, and so finding a solution to this has not been immediately obvious. This year I have decided however to begin by making exclusive use of the DJGPP online cross compiler. The advantage being that everyone gets to use the same product, all you need is an Internet connection to get compiling and the interface is about as simple as it gets, this last point does have advantages when you look at some of the complex semi professional inetegrated development environments that often ship with the newer visual compilers. The only disadvantage really is that it will only compile a maximum of 1000 bytes of source code, but for our early examples in the coming weeks that should be fine. Of course I have naturally placed the link to the facility in a Moodle block. The image that you can see accompanying this posting has actually been taken from my Learning Space in Second Life where students can visit alone or in groups to try out the examples, and the compiler, as part of a Web 3D learning experience, which you are also more than welcome to tryout.

Feedback welcome Barrys


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