Computer programming jobs are growing at 2 times the national average and by 2020 there are expected to be 1 million more computing jobs than Computer Science students. This represents a huge opportunity for young adults, yet 9 out of 10 schools don’t even offer computer programming courses. Microsoft Research wants to change this, and Falafel Software wants to help.
To help address this problem, Microsoft Research has created TouchDevelop; a cloud connected, touch friendly app creation environment that runs in the web browser on any device. TouchDevelop embraces today’s “Bring Your Own Device” world, presenting a unified programming environment across all platforms with no keyboard required. Regardless of whether apps are created on PCs or Macs, iPads or Windows 8 tablets, Android devices or Windows Phones, students can publish the scripts they have developed and share their applications as cross-platform HTML5 web apps. Ambitious students can take it a step further and export their applications to the Windows or Windows Phone stores, making their applications available to the general public.
Falafel Software jumped at the opportunity to help students and teachers learn how to program and created an easy to read TouchDevelop learning guide, “TouchDevelop Nuts and Bolts”. This new courseware spans 12 sessions, walking students through game creation one bite at at time. Early topics include programming basics such as variables and events, but the course rapidly progresses to more advanced game programming topics such as sprites, vectors, collision detection and even how to access device sensors. The courseware examples are shown on Windows Phone, but can be be developed and run in a web browser or any other platform.
Students at the Monte Vista Christian School (MVCS), located near Falafel Software’s headquarters in Capitola, CA, will be getting a special treat this year. Starting this week, Falafel’s President and CEO Lino Tadros will be at the school daily, teaching a new TouchDevelop course in person. Tadros will be teaching from the courseware and bringing in years of additional experience and expertise to give students the big picture on world of software development. Students will be even more excited when they walk into class and discover that Microsoft has generously agreed to lend each of them a Nokia Lumia 820 Windows Phone to use during the course.
If enrollment in this new course is any indication, then demand for high school programming courses is high; the TouchDevelop course at MVCS was filled within a day of being announced. Falafel Software is excited for the opportunity to help the eager students at MVCS and others around the world learn the skills they need for tomorrow – today.
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