Friday, May 13, 2011

LiveCode User Conference in San Jose, CA

I recently returned from RunRevLive.11, the company's annual user conference which was this year held in San Jose, California, last week.

What a treat it was to meet with and socialize with so many other LiveCode users! It was exciting to organize what I think was probably the first education session in conference history and to see the many uses of the product in the educational community.

And, finally, it was an experience beyond definition to sit behind fellow attendee Robert Cailliau, co-inventor of the world wide web; across the aisle from Bill Atkinson, one of the main geniuses behind the development of Hypercard (and not ashamed to say so!); and in the same room as Larry Tesler, a member of the original Xerox PARC team who subsequently moved over to Apple and was influential in the development of the Apple Lisa and the Newton.

Remember that these three very important tech figures all enthusiastically use LiveCode the next time some imbecile tells you it isn't a valid development platform, or isn't a "real" development tool, or that we need to stop talking about Hypercard.

We had not one but two education presentations, the second of which went on for two straight hours! Perhaps the "hit" of the conference was Bill Waldman and his magical cigar box, wired up with various boards and circuits that, via a usb connection, "talked" with a LC program. I am hoping that he will do a video presentation on this for everyone to see. He used various common RadioShack components along with a USB board from And I hope he won't mind my saying so, but whenever I think about his box I am reminded of the Peter, Paul & Mary song Marvelous Toy.

Scott Morrow, from , showed us a number of his "number sense" math programs aimed at elementary school learners. Scott himself has been an educator for 20 years and is keenly interested in the development of "software solutions with an eye towards elementary school students and faculty."

David Brooks also joined us and showed us programs that he's been working on. David has quite the impressive C.V. and has taught both chemistry and education at the university level.

Björnke von Gierke talked about his various educational initiatives, including chatRev, a chat client which connects to a server he operates which allows other LiveCode users to interact with one another in real-time (or something close to it), as well as, a weekly set of 2 or more video tutorials on various aspects of using LiveCode along with a live chat. He also has made a LiveCode stack BvG Docu, which is a much faster version of LiveCode's built-in language dictionary.

In the second presentation, we additionally had Carly Born, Educational Technologist for Carleton College, demonstrating her language learning revlet integrated into the Moodle course management system. The ability to integrate revlets into course management systems is important for educational users of LiveCode who also use course management systems.

Devin Asay, who teaches an introductory course to programming for humanities students at BYU, showed us his website with many resources as well as discussed his general approach to teaching a terminal programming course to non-computer science majors. Devin is a longstanding member of the LiveCode community who frequently co-teaches the beginner's Day Zero tracks at LC user conferences.

We also learned that doing your math homework needn't be dull or frustrating! Max Schafer's MathGadgets, featuring the awesome graphics work of LC developer Scott Rossi, gently guides students through the process of doing various K-6 math problems and can be purchased on a cool robot-looking USB thumb drive.

We were also treated to a very different, education-oriented product being developed using LiveCode by Larry Tesler. His project aims to facilitate constructivist educators to construct year-long lesson plans in which they are able to meet each of the state's standards for curriculum development.

These are just a few of the many diverse educational solutions being developed or which have been developed using LiveCode. Others include Sassoon Joiner, which teaches children the formation of cursive lettering; Jim Hurley's Turtle Graphics and other games, simulations and tools; TwistAWord, a fun word game which has been previously reviewed on this blog; and my own little Multiplication Bingo which aims to make practicing one's multiplication tables a little more fun.

Many of the attending educators walked away with a renewed commitment to evangelizing LC in the educational community and sharing and developing new learning resources. We have also initiated an education-focused FaceBook community which can be found here and hope to see you there!

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