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A Family of Tools for Supporting the Learning of Programming
Algorithms 2010, 3(2), 183-196; doi:10.3390/a3020183

Integrating New Technologies and Existing Tools to Promote Programming Learning

1 Instituto Superior de Engenharia de Coimbra, Rua Pedro Nunes, 3030 Coimbra, Portugal 2 Centro de Informática e Sistemas da Universidade de Coimbra, Pólo II da Universidade de Coimbra, 3030 Coimbra, Portugal
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 3 March 2010 / Revised: 28 March 2010 / Accepted: 1 April 2010 / Published: 20 April 2010
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In recent years, many tools have been proposed to reduce programming learning difficulties felt by many students. Our group has contributed to this effort through the development of several tools, such as VIP, SICAS, OOP-Anim, SICAS-COL and H-SICAS. Even though we had some positive results, the utilization of these tools doesn’t seem to significantly reduce weaker student’s difficulties. These students need stronger support to motivate them to get engaged in learning activities, inside and outside classroom. Nowadays, many technologies are available to create contexts that may help to accomplish this goal. We consider that a promising path goes through the integration of solutions. In this paper we analyze the features, strengths and weaknesses of the tools developed by our group. Based on these considerations we present a new environment, integrating different types of pedagogical approaches, resources, tools and technologies for programming learning support. With this environment, currently under development, it will be possible to review contents and lessons, based on video and screen captures. The support for collaborative tasks is another key point to improve and stimulate different models of teamwork. The platform will also allow the creation of various alternative models (learning objects) for the same subject, enabling personalized learning paths adapted to each student knowledge level, needs and preferential learning styles. The learning sequences will work as a study organizer, following a suitable taxonomy, according to student’s cognitive skills. Although the main goal of this environment is to support students with more difficulties, it will provide a set of resources supporting the learning of more advanced topics. Software engineering techniques and representations, object orientation and event programming are features that will be available in order to promote the learning progress of students.
Keywords: programming learning environments; collaborative environments programming learning environments; collaborative environments
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Santos, Á.; Gomes, A.; Mendes, A.J. Integrating New Technologies and Existing Tools to Promote Programming Learning. Algorithms 2010, 3, 183-196.

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