I undertook an independent digital technologies project with Alice. Alice is a 3D programming environment that allows you to create an animation for storytelling, developing games and sharing them to the web. Initially I downloaded Alice version 3 which is the latest version of the programming tool. I was also required to download a specific version of Java (JDK) in order for the Alice program to work. I found this version of the program challenging and probably more suitable to those with more coding and programming experience then I possess. Therefore I felt this would not be the best option for younger primary school students just learning to code. I then downloaded version 2.2 of Alice which is more ‘object-based’ and suitable for inexperienced programmers.
Once again the process for downloading was similar to that of Scratch and the online tutorials and extensive teaching handbooks and resources provided valuable information and ideas. I then designed an ice world animation adding numerous 3D animations.
Alice provides a wide range of themes and animations to choose from but you can also upload your own. By simply dragging and dropping or right clicking on the animation you can manipulate the characters to move.
In comparison to Scratch, which features the colour coding for sound, movement, etc and is user friendly and makes looking for the correct code simple, Alice does not have this feature. However I believe the overall idea of the drag and drop to add animations is similar to that of Scratch where you manipulate the sprite.
I believe both programs could be valuable in the primary classroom with Alice being more suited to middle primary years. Both programs could be used to address the following links to the Australian Curriculum Technologies Draft (2013).
2.4 Identify, explore, and use digital systems (hardware and software components) for personal and classroom needs
4.4 Use a range of digital systems and peripherals for diverse purposes, and transmit different types of data
4.6 Design and implement simple visual programs with user input and branching
6.7 Design and implement digital solutions using visual programs with user input, branching and iteration
8.9 Develop and modify programs with user interfaces involving branching, repetition or iteration and subprograms in a general-purpose programming language
8.10 Manage the sequence of tasks, the types of processes and the resources needed to develop software that meets user requirements
10.9 Collaboratively develop modular digital solutions, applying appropriate algorithms and data structures using visual, object-oriented and/or scripting tools and environments
10.10 Use agile development techniques to iteratively and collaboratively develop (design, implement and test) software that meets user requirements.
In conclusion my learning through these digital technologies activities has allowed me to search and critique various options for teaching future students the skills of coding, all of which could be applied in the classroom with adequate scaffolding and resources, to cater for the needs of students with differentiated learning abilities.
The following screenshot shows a simple creation using Alice.