Alice - allowing novice programmers to build interactive 3D virtual worlds

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A follow up to a previous blog entry, “Best language for beginning programmers?”. I was looking at research being done at the Carnegie Mellon University Human-Computer Interaction Institute. One of the research projects in the Learning Technologies area is Alice.

From the research project home page, Alice is described as a " The focus of the Alice project is now to provide the best possible first exposure to programming for students ranging from middle schoolers to college students. Rather than having to correctly type commands according to obscure rules of syntax, students drag-and-drop words in a direct manipulation interface." Using the environment you can drop 3D objects. Each object has methods. The environment let's you select commands/syntax statements to visually automate the virtual world.

Other systems for beginning and novice programmers include LegoMindstorms, Squeak, and StarLogo.   CodeGear's Turbo language products are also great for beginning programmers to learn Delphi, C++, and Java programming.

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