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The Future of Teaching Programming is on Mobile Devices

Nikolai Tillmann, Michal Moskal, Jonathan de Halleux, Manuel Fahndrich, Judith Bishop, Arjmand Samuel, and Tao Xie


From paper to computers, the way that we have been writing down thoughts and performing symbolic computations has been constantly evolving. Teaching methods closely follow this trend, leveraging existing technology to make teaching more effective and preparing students for their later careers with the available technology. Right now, in 2012, we are in the middle of another technology shift: instead of using PCs and laptops, mobile devices are becoming more prevalent for most everyday computing tasks. In fact, never before in human history were incredibly powerful and versatile computing devices such as smartphones available and adopted so broadly. We propose that computer programming, and thus the teaching of programming, can and should be done directly on the mobile devices themselves, without the need for a separate PC or laptop to write code. Programming on smartphones that we carry around with us at all times means instant gratification for students, as they can show their games and applications to their friends, and it means that students can do their homework or additional practicing at all times. We describe TouchDevelop, a novel mobile programming environment, and call out challenges that need to be overcome and opportunities that it creates.


Publication typeInproceedings
Published inProc. 17th Annual Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education (ITiCSE 2012)
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