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Programming MOOC #FLmobigame

Wed 26th February 2014

I am hoping to participate in the University of Reading’s MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) “Begin programming: build your first mobile game” that started earlier this week, on the FutureLearn platform. I say “hoping”, because on the two or three occasions I have started an online course that is on a schedule and requires regular interaction, I have failed to continue past about the first few days! I’ve learned plenty of things by myself online, but I tend to need to do it at my own pace, around the rest of my schedule.

However, I’m following this not just to learn, so I thought I’d explain the different perspectives I am looking at this from.

Making MOOCs

As a member of CITE through my job, many of my colleagues are currently building MOOCs for the University of Southampton in association with FutureLearn (including “Web Science” and “Exploring our Oceans”). I think it will be interesting to compare and contrast other universities’ approach to making a MOOC on this platform. Are they longer or shorter courses? Do they split up each weeks’ activities into smaller or bigger chunks? What is the balance of video, reading, practical work and interaction with other learners? I might even get a view on whether engagement with the course outside of FutureLearn (e.g. through social media) varies.

Teaching Programming

Another part of my job is teaching university first years undergraduates. One of the modules I teach on, and thoroughly enjoy, is COMP1202 Programming 1. Much like this MOOC, we teach our students the fundamentals of programming in the Java programming language. However, our emphasis is more on the elements that occur in all programming languages, practicing each one, and utilising the previous skills to build increasingly complex applications from scratch. Our activities therefore are non-connected thematically, whereas the aim of this MOOC is to make an increasingly complex smartphone game.

I’m looking forward to experiencing a different approach to learning the language, to examine whether there’s any lessons we can learn for teaching our own course. It will be difficult to step back from already knowing Java, but I will do my best to observe what benefits or problems other outright beginners report.

Programming a Mobile Game

Finally, the most obvious reason for doing this course: to force myself to do something. While I am already an experienced Java programmer of over 10 years, have written a few small games, and worked for a smartphone software developer, it’s been a long time since I wrote a game or any mobile phone code, so I’d quite like the motivation to write a game on Android, and I think this is it! 🙂

There we go. I hope to blog once a week, after doing the activities, but as with all my “series”, this will probably be the only one. If I decide to stop doing it, I’ll blog about that too, for some closure!

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From → MOOCs, Programming

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