10 Replies - 1447 Views - Last Post: 12 June 2012 - 07:43 AM

Poll: Teaching using IDEs (18 member(s) have cast votes)

Do IDEs make us dumb?

  1. YES! New programmers should use text editors, not IDEs. (2 votes [11.11%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 11.11%

  2. IDEs have their place if used correctly. (9 votes [50.00%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 50.00%

  3. NO! Teaching using an IDE is A-OK. (5 votes [27.78%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 27.78%

  4. Other (2 votes [11.11%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 11.11%

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#1 rantingsteve  Icon User is offline

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Teaching using IDEs

Posted 02 June 2012 - 07:17 PM

When I teach Java, I usually have my students download and use NetBeans. Some of my colleagues believe Integrated Development Environments like NetBeans do too much of the work and actually hinder the learning of a programming language.

I can understand the mentality. When I started learning C++, then Java, I used a text editor, because there wasn't the abundance of free tools and cheap high-speed Internet we have now. (I feel so old writing this!) At the same time, I feel it's good for students to be exposed to the sort of tools they are going to use professionally, and the RAD tools (like NetBeans Swing GUI Builder) allow students to have the satisfaction of building something fairly non-trivial in a short amount of time.

What do you think? If you're learning a new language, do you deliberately avoid IDEs?

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Replies To: Teaching using IDEs

#2 rantingsteve  Icon User is offline

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Re: Teaching using IDEs

Posted 02 June 2012 - 07:24 PM

Just after I post this, I realize it probably belongs in Corner Cubicle. D'oh!
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#3 GunnerInc  Icon User is offline

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Re: Teaching using IDEs

Posted 02 June 2012 - 07:30 PM

I'll move it for you.
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#4 Jingle  Icon User is offline

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Re: Teaching using IDEs

Posted 02 June 2012 - 07:56 PM

funny I was just thinking about this on my way to work this morning. I think that using IDEs is very helpful if used properly. However it cannot replace the fundamentals (obviosly). I would however probibly start out just using the IDE for its text editor.
I think it would be nice to creat an IDE especialy for teaching. Or is there one already? almost like a tutorial only it would be project based instead of simply concept based. So inother words it helps you code what you want then tells you how it did it. If there was a way to turn up or down the intensity of the atomation and explenation according to what kind of interaction it gets from its trainee.
Would anybody else be interestedin that kind of thing?
if not for learning how to program but maybe just learning a new language?
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#5 Kilorn  Icon User is offline

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Re: Teaching using IDEs

Posted 02 June 2012 - 08:08 PM

I started out programming in C on a Unix shell that I connected to using VI to edit the files... I then got smart and downloaded EditPad Pro and started editing the files using it and uploading them later to the shell where I would then build the code. That was some 10+ years ago and I can honestly say that I won't be writing any code without an IDE ever again. I can't see any reason to need to write code without an IDE. As for teaching programming while using them, I don't see a problem at all in teaching someone to program using an IDE, or even multiple IDE's. Once these people have jobs where they write code for a living, there will always be an IDE available for use, and I don't see how teaching them to NOT use an IDE would help them.

This post has been edited by Kilorn: 02 June 2012 - 08:09 PM

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#6 rantingsteve  Icon User is offline

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Re: Teaching using IDEs

Posted 03 June 2012 - 01:40 PM

There are actually a few IDEs designed for education.

For the younger peeps, there's Scratch, which has a nice drag-and-drop code block interface thing, similar to the Codeblocks utility in AppInventor. For those learning Java, there's Alice, Greenfoot, and BlueJ. I've taught an introductory course using Alice, and it's a somewhat quirky 3D environment that takes some getting used to, but a good way of explaining OOP. In Alice, objects are actually objects in a 3D world.

I may design a course (or at least a few tutorials) around BlueJ, because it also takes the objects-first approach, but is less "cute."
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#7 darek9576  Icon User is offline

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Re: Teaching using IDEs

Posted 03 June 2012 - 03:28 PM

My uni used BlueJ for Java and our book was also targeting bluej.
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#8 Sergio Tapia  Icon User is offline

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Re: Teaching using IDEs

Posted 03 June 2012 - 04:27 PM

Completely depends on the language and what you're aiming at teaching your students.

Java - are you teaching the core language? Making some console applications? Or teaching them about Swing GUI's? If you are only teaching the core, using a text editor will be fine. But if you're teaching them about GUI frameworks, why not use an IDE? Do you really expect them to memorize hundreds of lines of code initializing and setting every property in a control? Hell no.

C# - Ditto as above. Making a Windows Forms/WPF/Silverlight/WCF application -> Use an IDE. It'd be stupid not to. Only learning about core language features then yeah, be my guest. You will STILL be doing them a disservice as in the real world every .NET developer is expected to be familiar and know their way around Visual Studio.

Ruby/Python/Clojure - A text editor is fine. But for the love of God use something a bit more advanced than notepad. I use Sublime Text 2.
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#9 ludjer  Icon User is offline

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Re: Teaching using IDEs

Posted 04 June 2012 - 12:27 AM

I think when it comes to your basic code and console applications they should start off with not note pad but something with syntax highlighting and a few other things. When a student gets to the point where he is not learning the code but rather working on the algorithms and getting a application working i think he must use a IDE because it teaches them to become more efficient and gives them more tools to help them debug there program.
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#10 Tayacan  Icon User is offline

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Re: Teaching using IDEs

Posted 11 June 2012 - 04:16 AM

I would say it depends on what language you're teaching - as Sergio Tapia said, if you're teaching something like Python or Ruby, a text editor is just fine. However, convincing newbie programmers to use a text editor more advanced than Notepad++ is hard.
For big languages like the .NET languages and Java, an IDE may or may not help - I think that depends on teaching style as well as how complex programs you're making.
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#11 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: Teaching using IDEs

Posted 12 June 2012 - 07:43 AM

Once these people have jobs where they write code for a living, there will always be an IDE available for use, and I don't see how teaching them to NOT use an IDE would help them. 


I think this is not hard to see. When you learn a language (as you did) having to type every line out, and correct every mistake, you learn the language deeply. You learn to think in the language. When an IDE fills in the details and corrects the mistakes for you, you simply don't get this. Think of arithmetic: all that arithmetic practice in grade school is tedious, and if you're actually juggling large numbers you're not going to do long division by hand. However, most of the time the important thing is to be able to "think in numbers" - not to get the exact result, but to see what calculations you're going to need to do. Calculators get you the exact answer quickly, but that's actually not the important thing about math.

This is not to say that IDEs or calculators are evil, but the tools suited to a professional who already understands the concepts they're working with are not good tools to learn with. The tools that facilitate quick production work are not tools for teaching underlying concepts. An IDE to me seems a device ideally suited for prevention of learning.

How many times have you seen people, in any language, just bashing at the keys and clicking the mouse until all the red goes away? Is this programming? Is this a way to learn programming?
No, of course not - but it's the easiest thing to do, so most people will do it. Taking away the IDE takes away the easy, and wrong, ways to go at it. Then you have to ball up and learn the language, and how to understand the programs you write in it.
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