February 20, 2007
In cooperation with Odense Technical College, Mikkel gave a workshop to some of their freshmen students. Students are often introduced to software development in a theoretical and boring way. A lot of people quickly lose interest when they are overwhelmed with the strange concepts of a programming language. We set out to make it fun. Read on to see the results.
The goal was to give students with no prior experience with programming languages a taste of what it means to develop software. More specifically, the goal was to create a small game for their mobile phone in just 2 weeks! To be able to achieve this, we didn’t waste time on theoretical lessons on the concepts of variables, methods, objects etc. Instead we created an example game in advance, and walked them through the code step by step. For each step, they had to take a similar step in the example code. Perhaps this doesn’t give them a deep understanding of what exactly is happening, but they see what it takes to get a result on the screen that isn’t just a “Hello world!” string. And more importantly, they write it themselves (with a lot of help). This is how we learned to develop software years ago. We simply set a goal and tried to achieve it even though we initially knew nothing. I think this is by far the best way of getting experience, but it takes commitment to do it all by yourself, so getting a helping hand from someone who knows something about it, and still getting to create your own cool game, really helps.
After having gone through the prepared game code, the students were encouraged to create their own game, under Mikkels guidance. For people with no prior experience, I must say that I think they did pretty well. The results are available below. You can download the JAD files directly to your phone, or download the Java Wireless Toolkit to run it on your PC. Note that compatability with all sorts of phones wasn’t the main topic, so don’t expect them to work flawlessly.
The College also has a page with the games with a bit more info (Danish).