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Issue 112 | June 17th 2011 Contact the Editor | How to Contribute

Presenting to Educators at Apple RTC
Gracemount High School Teacher and LiveCode joint presentation at Apple Regional Training Centre

by Mark Taoilinn

“Where are the future programmers coming from given that students generally hate programming?”

This was the question posed by Steven Whyte, a teacher in Gracemount High School in Edinburgh, when he presented to fellow educators at the Apple Regional Training Centre. Steven had travelled down to London last week with Kevin Miller because he thinks that with LiveCode he’s found the answer to this question.

The Apple Regional Training Centres are a network of facilities in Europe, Russia, the Middle East and Africa where educators can attend a range of courses relevant to their curriculum. Sessions at the Apple RTC are designed to be as practical as possible and Apple encourages the “added value of a practising teacher with real-world experience of integrating Apple technology into the curriculum”. So, when Apple recognised that LiveCode is a great tool for educators and invited RunRev speak at Apple RTC we asked Steven to come along to share his classroom experiences with the other teachers there.

And boy are we glad that we did?! Steven’s presentation went down a storm and everyone there was really impressed with what Kevin and Steven showed them. Teachers tweeted their enthusiasm:

“LiveCode looks amazing and definitely usable in school” - @mbunyan

“Impressed by LiveCode - deploys across all platforms” - @drdennis

“LiveCode looks fab! #AppleRTC” - @chellehoole

Transitioning to LiveCode
Steven told his fellow teachers how stressful it was teaching a programming course before he found LiveCode. His students struggled to see the point of the programs they created in any real life context because they were creating code they didn’t fully understand. He would typically hear comments like “I hate programming, that’s why I decided not to do Computer Studies during my senior years” or “It’s just like maths - I don’t like maths!” His students, Steven told the assembled teachers, could not see the logic of what they were doing, were not enjoying their studies and were choosing not to progress with them to higher level.

Things are much different now with LiveCode. For the first time ever, he is about to start teaching two Higher Level classes in computing - because these students started their programming experience last year on LiveCode. Steven was first attracted to LiveCode because it was inspired by the HyperCard language. HyperCard was always extremely popular in education so he was keen to give it a try and find out if LiveCode could take the place of this as an easy to use solution for teaching programming. He started to create some programs in LiveCode and “before he knew it” he had developed a standard grade course which he’s been teaching to his fourth year class. This class was so successful that it greatly increased the number of students progressing to higher level computer studies. Steven has now gone on to write a full set of course notes for the Higher Level curriculum too, and advanced higher will follow shortly. He’s always happy to share his work and you can download the notes here.

The benefits to Gracemount High School of using LiveCode
Steven outlined to the Apple RTC that because LiveCode is a very high level language it is easy to use and understand. This makes it perfect for education because:

  • It’s as close to the way we speak as possible. Students have more chance of picking up the language
  • Less time is spent debugging mistakes that the students have made
  • Students are motivated and want to learn more. Students really get involved in designing their own interfaces.
LiveCode can produce applications that can be used from early secondary school right the way up to university level.

Here’s an example that Steven gave of how LiveCode makes things easy for students and teachers alike. The LiveCode Text Editor uses different colors to indicate different types of operations being carried out, so students and teachers can easily find and correct mistakes:

  • Blue for displaying text
  • Yellow for commands
  • Green for internal commentary
  • Purple for chunk expressions
  • Red for potential errors (i.e. no end of quotation)

Help is at Hand
Of course, as with every language, students are going to make mistakes and the teacher doesn’t always know the answer. But Steven explained that help is always at hand within the LiveCode community - which Steven thinks is one of LiveCode’s strongest attributes. He talked about the free to register LiveCode forum and all the help he can get from there as well. There’s even a LiveCode in Education Facebook page where educators can share ideas and communicate with each other. Check it out. LiveCode TV regularly features Education sessions - this Saturday, June 18th, Judy Perry from the LiveCode in Education Facebook page will be giving her insights into the education perspective on LiveCode. Watch in on LiveCode TV, Saturday 18th June at 7 p.m. BST/11 a.m PST.

The Future of Education
The most exciting thing about teaching students LiveCode is showing them how to make apps that they can show off on their mobile phones. Most students have these devices and it would be ace for them to be able to transfer what they had done in class to their mobile to run as an app” says Steven Whyte. Steven wants to be one of the first teachers in Scotland to introduce mobile app development using LiveCode’s iOS, Android and Windows Mobile Development tool. 

Like Steven, we believe that LiveCode is the future of education. We believe that future programmers will be LiveCode programmers. But we also know that we can only get there with the great support of teachers like Steven.

Steven WhyteA very big thank you to Mr. Steven Whyte of Gracemount High School, Edinburgh for his excellent presentation in the Apple Regional Training Centre and for sharing his course notes.

If you use LiveCode in Education why not take a look at the LiveCode in Education Facebook page. If you have any stories you would like to share please email


About the Author

Mark Taoilinn is Sales and Marketing Manager for RunRev Ltd.


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