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New Project Ideas Thread, PILOT in EduGeek Projects; I'm thinking of creating some software to allow ICT (or other teachers) to create CAI or CAL programs easily. I ...
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    ComputingData's Avatar
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    PILOT

    I'm thinking of creating some software to allow ICT (or other teachers) to create CAI or CAL programs easily. I was going to base the programming language on the very easy to learn PILOT language (it was used in education in the US for over 30 years). It will have turtle graphics, etc and should be very easy to learn. It will be able to create stand alone apps that will run on the PC.


    Does anyone have any ideas, comments or suggestions before I start?

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    powdarrmonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ComputingData View Post
    to create CAI or CAL programs easily.
    pardons?

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    ComputingData's Avatar
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    Computer Aided Instruction or Learning.

    So teachers can easily create the interactive tuition programs they usually have to buy.

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    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ComputingData View Post
    I'm thinking of creating some software to allow ICT (or other teachers) to create CAI or CAL programs easily.
    You might be surprised as to how few teachers (ICT or otherwise) would know what to do with a programming language.

    I was going to base the programming language on the very easy to learn PILOT language
    You have experience using compiler generation tools, or were you planning to write your own parser / lexer?

    It will have turtle graphics, etc and should be very easy to learn. It will be able to create stand alone apps that will run on the PC.
    Make it cross-platform - web-based is the way to go.

    Does anyone have any ideas, comments or suggestions before I start?
    It sounds like you're hoping to achieve something like LOGO, Scratch, GreenFoot, etc, or some sort of tool to let teachers create their own learning resources. If the former then I'm intrigued as to what you hope to offer that the above solutions don't already, if the latter then I think your application might have a smaller audience than you might expect - a programming tool for teachers isn't going to get many users, they'll need a GUI of some kind.

    --
    David Hicks

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    ComputingData's Avatar
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    Hi david,

    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    You might be surprised as to how few teachers (ICT or otherwise) would know what to do with a programming language.

    You have experience using compiler generation tools, or were you planning to write your own parser / lexer?
    I have experience with compilers, etc This was going to be an interpreter though, it doesn't need to be fast - just easy to use and friendly.

    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    Make it cross-platform - web-based is the way to go.
    I was going to make the system capable of generating PC x86 and x64 executables, then (in the 'distant' future) add the ability to generate Mac and Linux executables from within the PC version. Eventually having 4 versions capable of cross-creating executables for the other formats.

    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    It sounds like you're hoping to achieve something like LOGO, Scratch, GreenFoot, etc, or some sort of tool to let teachers create their own learning resources. If the former then I'm intrigued as to what you hope to offer that the above solutions don't already, if the latter then I think your application might have a smaller audience than you might expect - a programming tool for teachers isn't going to get many users, they'll need a GUI of some kind.
    The PILOT language will be in there, it's not the same as LOGO (I think LOGO was mainly aimed at the helping the children learn how to program) though - it's more for Teacher to create scripts of text and graphics and easy input matching. I didn't want it to look like GreenFoot or Scratch at all. There will be a GUI though to add and manipulate graphic images. I hoped turtle graphics 'module' (like the one in LOGO) will make it easy for the teacher to create 'pretty' geometric patterns that could be used to help in classwork?

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    dhicks's Avatar
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    I hoped turtle graphics 'module' (like the one in LOGO) will make it easy for the teacher to create 'pretty' geometric patterns that could be used to help in classwork?
    Sorry, I probably don't quite understand you - you'd have a turtle graphics style tool as a general teaching tool? I can see where something like that would useful for teachings maths, which obviously LOGO, The Geometer's Sketchpad, MatLab, etc, are already aimed at - see this TES article for a bit of further reading, maybe. I rather doubt your average teacher is going to have much use for a vector graphics programming tool in their general lesson preparation.

    Like I say, I don't think I quite grasp what you're aiming at here - can you elaborate a bit? Is the idea that the teacher will be creating resources for use by individual children, groups of children working on one PC, or resources for display on a large screen at the front of a classroom? What role does a programming language play in all this, is it to control the learner's progress through the resource in some way - basic if/then branches, maybe, testing whether a student's answer is correct or if they have more than a given score at the end of a section?

    --
    David Hicks

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    ComputingData's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    I can see where something like that would useful for teachings maths, which obviously LOGO, The Geometer's Sketchpad, MatLab, etc, are already aimed at. I rather doubt your average teacher is going to have much use for a vector graphics programming tool in their general lesson preparation.

    Like I say, I don't think I quite grasp what you're aiming at here - can you elaborate a bit?
    The teacher could write a program that shows the student a shape.

    Instead of having to draw (in an art program) the shape a pentagon and a star, they could write a program like this:

    Code:
    R: is the start of a comment line, you can also use ; at the end of a line
    
    G:Goto -40,0   ;  G is Graphics, then turtle, go to graph position -40,0
    U:*Pentagon ;  U means Use - call or 'gosub' a subroutine
    
    G:Goto 40,0
    U:*Star
    
    W:10 ; W means Wait - wait 10 seconds
    E: ; E means end, or 'return' if at the end of a subroutine
    
    *Pentagon
    G:TurnTo -18  ;  turtle,  turn to -18 degrees (default 0 is up)
    G:5(Draw 20;Turn 72) ; turtle, draw 20 units (default=1 pixel), turn 72 degrees, repeat 5 times
    E:
    
    *Star
    G:TurnTo 19
    G:5(Draw 31,Turn 144)
    E:
    As you can see, it's *very* basic and pretty easy to code. PILOT's main strength is in matching user input to strings.

    The main thing is that anyone will be able to write a program in a few minutes (like an interactive storybook) that could compete with the simple programs they normally have to buy. Because they will be able to generate a single file executable, they could give these programs to parents or teachers at other schools, or sell them if they like.

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    tom_newton's Avatar
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    Use an existing interpreter. Writing your own will suck the life out of the good bits in your ideas.

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    ComputingData's Avatar
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    huh?

    I've almost written the 'tokenizer' for the interpreter now. Don't forget, the actual PILOT language is not my own - see [ame=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PILOT]PILOT - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]

    PILOT lasted over 30 years until higher level languages (imho more difficult for non-programmers to use) became popular. If you take a look at it then you will see it's almost perfect for writing CAI/L apps - there's no need for anything more complex, just a little bit of updating.

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    Oh my god! My I never fail to be surprised! How on earth did you dig up/come across PILOT? Of all the obscure programming languages. I thought I was one of only a handful of people that'd even heard of it let alone coded in it!

    I found this language on an Amstrad Action covertape back in the early 90's. Back when I had an Amiga ('96ish) I wrote an interpreter for PILOT in AMOS BASIC. If I remember correctly the language officially only has 5 commands which are all single letters followed by a colon.

    T: display this text

    for instance.

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    SYSMAN_MK's Avatar
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    Am I missing something? Using your example who is going to to use that code to draw a shape they can get, for example, from the Smart notebook gallery .

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    ComputingData's Avatar
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    If I remember correctly the language officially only has 5 commands which are all single letters followed by a colon.
    Yes, thats why I think it's ideal for teachers! lol.

    Imagine a PILOT interpreter with a bit of a GUI for setting up graphics and music playback. It could make a very rapid system for creating small apps for childred to play and learn from.

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    ComputingData's Avatar
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    Am I missing something? Using your example who is going to to use that code to draw a shape they can get, for example, from the Smart notebook gallery .
    That was just an example, in the system you could set it so you see the turtle following a path, creating the star. The example shows that drawing a pentagon is very similar to drawing a star.

    With the extensions I was proposing you could also add bitmaps, etc and test the childs knowledge about the displayed image, etc...

    When you have created your interactive 'program' you will be able to bundle it into an executable, put it on a website or distribute it to parents to let them use on home computers, etc
    Last edited by ComputingData; 27th November 2008 at 10:46 PM.

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    mattx's Avatar
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    If you don't want to pay for this sort of thing - [ would not put anyone off from writing their own app.... ] then isn't MSWLogo free ?

    MSWLogo, An Educational programming language

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    ComputingData's Avatar
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    If you don't want to pay for this sort of thing
    I haven't said that anyone would have to pay for this yet?



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