Engage your students by teaching programming using only mobile devices with TouchDevelop (abstract only)

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We are experiencing a technology shift: Powerful and easy-to-use touchscreen-based mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are becoming more prevalent than traditional PCs and laptops. We propose that computer programming, and thus teaching of programming, can and should be done directly on the mobile devices themselves, without the need for a separate PC or laptop to write code. In this workshop, participants will learn about developing software directly on smartphones without a PC using TouchDevelop, a novel application creation environment on Windows Phone 7 from Microsoft Research ( Its typed, structured programming language is built around the idea of only using a touchscreen as the input device to author code. A semi-structured code editor makes it easy to navigate between different syntax elements. By inferring types and mining previously written programs, the editor provides highly predictive auto-completion suggestions to the user. The language provides built-in primitives that make it easy to access the rich sensor data available on a mobile device. Programming on mobile devices engages students in new ways, allowing them to access and manipulate programmatically their most personal digital data such as pictures, videos, and music. Programming on smartphones which we carry around with us at all times means instant gratification for students, as they can show their games and applications to their friends, and it means that students can do their homework or additional practicing at all times. For this workshop, a laptop is optional; Windows Phone 7 devices will be provided for exercises.

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... TouchDevelop is a new programming environment tailormade for developing and deploying mobile apps using only smartphones and by using the content, sensors and features present on the phones [58]. Although classrooms are perceived as the main context for TouchDevelop's intended use [59,60], later studies show that it is largely used by end-users who are mostly inexperienced programmers [3,35]. ...
While mobile touchscreen devices are ubiquitous and present opportunities for novel applications, they have seen little adoption as tools for computer programming. In this literature survey, we bring together the diverse research work on programming-related tasks supported by mobile touchscreen devices to explore the design space for applying them to programming situations. We used the Grounded theory approach to identify themes and classify previous work. We present these themes and how each paper contributes to the theme, and we outline the remaining challenges in and opportunities for using mobile touchscreen devices in programming applications.
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