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Education Google Programming

Google Pulls Plug On Programming For the Masses 236

theodp writes "Google has decided to pull the plug on Android App Inventor, which was once touted as a game-changer for introductory computer science. In an odd post, Google encourages folks to 'Get Started!' with the very product it's announcing will be discontinued as a Google product. The move leaves CS Prof David Wolber baffled. ' In the case of App Inventor,' writes Wolber, 'the decision affects more than just your typical early adopter techie. It hurts kids and schools, and outfits like Iridescent, who use App Inventor in their Technovation after-school programs for high school girls, and Youth Radio's Mobile Action Lab, which teaches app building to kids in Oakland California. You've hurt professors and K-12 educators who have developed new courses and curricula with App Inventor at the core. You've hurt universities who have redesigned their programs.' Wolber adds: 'Even looking at it from Google's perspective, I find the decision puzzling. App Inventor was a public relations dream. Democratizing app building, empowering kids, women, and underrepresented groups — this is good press for a company continually in the news for anti-trust and other far less appealing issues. And the cost-benefit of the cut was negligible-believe it or not, App Inventor was a small team of just 5+ employees! The Math doesn't make sense.'"
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Google Pulls Plug On Programming For the Masses

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @01:02PM (#37045980)
    Hold on there, buck-o! Your "reason" and "facts" have no place on Nu-Slashdot where no opportunity is wasted by 2million+ uid users to bash Google and name-drop Microsoft.
  • by thisisauniqueid ( 825395 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @01:38PM (#37046418)
    Empowering kids, women, minorities?? That's ridiculous. App Inventor's biggest problem is that it is too low-level. There is almost a one-to-one correspondence between every block in App Inventor and a single Java keyword or operator. Therefore there is NOTHING you can learn with App Inventor that you can't learn by learning to write source code. In fact the blocks themselves obscure meaning, because their visual representation doesn't convey much actual meaningful information. App Inventor could have been really, really good if it worked at a much higher level, and if the construction process wasn't so highly geometrically constrained and brittle.
  • by scamper_22 ( 1073470 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @01:47PM (#37046538)

    There's also the reality that you can't make programming much more friendly than most of today languages.

    I taught high school computer science and its amazing to see the difference between kids. But more importantly, the concepts are what is hard. It is not the expression of those concepts.

    I don't know what it is with so many academics and educational people who seem to think the concepts are easy... we just need the right way to express them.

    The same kid who struggles with the notion of a variable in algebra is the same kid who will struggle with the notion of a variable in a programming language. No amount of drawing boxes to show it is 'holding' a value will help any more than saying this is X.

    These are just difficult concepts: variables, sequential steps, algorithms... Most of us who program take these things as trivial. Most of us who did quite well in school take these things as given. Most of us who naturally think analytically about issues take these things for granted.

    That's just not how most of the population thinks. I have friends who are teachers who still don't understand what fractions really mean and how to do basic math on them.

    These are just hard concepts. Part of me thinks that such people may never get it until they change their entire way of thinking. If you brain cannot comprehend the idea of a variable; you will never be able to think analytically; and you'll never be able to program.

    I don't say that in a bad way. I'll probably never understand the complexity of modern art until I change my entire way of thinking.

    Yet, time and time again, we see these tools which claim to make programming easy. Do you really think the big block is that a kid cannot comprehend an IF statement, yet if you draw a big diamond in a flow chart, it all becomes clear? No, that's the easy part.

    Time and time again, we see educational academics trying to say we just need to express ideas in a way students can understand.

    Yet, it is the concept that is hard. People can easily learn the different expressions of that concept.

    But anyways. There's no demand for products like this except by academia and the education bureaucracy.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @03:48PM (#37048054)

    I don't see the fashion industry trying to lure more men into the business.

    The University of Washington's School of Education announced, quite a few years ago, it was going to preferentially admit men to the program in an attempt to address the longstanding gender skew of the teaching force. They were forced to backtrack (and even apologize!) pretty quickly - women really got up in arms over the proposal.

  • by whizzard ( 177251 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @03:49PM (#37048058) Homepage

    Whenever I see something submitted by theodp, I make a bet with myself about

    Do you usually win?

No extensible language will be universal. -- T. Cheatham