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27 February 2014

Building jsdares, an interactive programming course

Location: Meeting Room 10, 2nd Floor, JLB
Time: 12:30pm - 13:45pm
Speaker(s): Jan Paul Posma - Factlink

Two years ago, I built jsdares (Javascript "dares"), an online programming course aimed at high school children. Key motivation was the realisation that we significantly underuse the computer’s original promise in education: to create engaging educational experiences, and to visualise and play around with complex interactive systems. I have attempted to create a programming course that feels like a game, with puzzles and visualisations to learn the fundamentals of programming, heavily inspired by the ideas of Bret Victor and Seymour Papert. My experiences with teaching children ages 8 to 18 programming at a youth centre has led me to believe that there is no need for "dumbing things down", as done by drag-and-drop programming languages. Instead a big motivation is the ability to learn to create "real world" programs — programs built in jsdares can be run stand-alone in any web browser. Techniques used in jsdares could therefore also be applied to non-educational programming. We will go through the process of building jsdares by going through different prototypes and ideas of other people. If there is some time left, we could look at how these ideas relate to the startups I work for now, Versal (course creation tools) and Factlink (discussion platform). Short Bio: Jan Paul Posma created jsdares while studying at Oxford University in 2012. He now works for Factlink, where he tries to improve the credibility of online information by providing contextual discussions, and Versal, where he brings tools for creating engaging interactive courses to the masses. Before that he created interfaces for Wikipedia, IKEA, large multitouch tables, and taught web and embedded programming at a youth centre.

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Contact: mailto:h.c.sharp@open.ac.uk