Targetting teachers

Richmond richmondmathewson at
Wed Aug 24 03:31:14 EDT 2016

On 24.08.2016 00:09, Richard Gaskin wrote:
> Richmond wrote:
> > On 23.08.2016 22:09, Richard Gaskin wrote:
> >
> >> Today's audience has very different needs from when that article was
> >> written in 1999.  And with HyperCard designed as an authoring tool
> >> while LiveCode is designed as a development tool, the opportunities
> >> for using LiveCode to teach CS in K-12 require a different approach.
> >
> > I'm not entirely convinced about that as one can, if one wants, use
> > *Hypercard* as a development tool (just so long as one can find a
> > market of people who are deploying a bunch of Performas), and one
> > can equally well use *Livecode* as an authroring tool.
> >
> > In fact I think that *Livecode* has made a slight mistake in not
> > pointing out that it is perfectly possible to use Livecode as an
> > authoring tool, as by not doing that I believe it has cut itself off
> > from a section of the educational market.
> I collect multitools.  I have one in my car, one on my keychain, one 
> in my backpack, and two in my bicycle's panier.  Even though they have 
> many tools in common, each has a different use-case focus.  The one I 
> use on my bike would not be the best choice for hiking, and vice versa.
> HyperCard was used for many things, even as a database despite 
> Atkinson himself trying to remind everyone that it wasn't a database. :)
> LiveCode is even more flexible, able to cover that ground and more.
> But HyperCard had smaller boundaries, limits that were useful in their 
> way, liberating by providing guidance for the newcomer.
> Its User Levels are a good example: they make good sense in an 
> authoring tool, and have never been part of LiveCode.  I think the 
> teams behind both tools made the right choice there, different because 
> the tool's focus is different.

I disagree as I don't believe the tool has a focus in quite that way: it 
can have multiple foci, and which one is selected depends to a very 
large extent on the end-user.

A while ago someone did raise the possibility of designing a 
front-end?GUI for Livecode that had User Levels, as well as a simplified 
Hypercard-like front-end. I did build a prototype HC-like front-end, but 
as nobody seemed terribly interested I didn't bother to develop it much 
further than an initial "toe in the water".

There was quite a lot of "loose banter" about a flowering of multiple 
front-ends when the GPL version of LC was released: but that is a bit 
like the flowering that was supposed to happen under Communism: super in 
theory, but humans are not naturally communists and are greedy little 
so-and-sos, so there has to be some sort of profit motive.

I, personally, think that one or two people spend far too much time 
looking back to a fast-receding "Golden Age" of Hypercard, which, with 
hindsight should be seen as good for its time, but nothing more.

> Personally, I like how Bill Appleton summed up the differences between 
> HyperCard and SuperCard, fitting here where we might replace 
> "SuperCard" with "LiveCode":
>   HyperCard is a multimedia authoring environment.  SuperCard is
>   a tool you can use to build multimedia authoring environments.

Well, Livecode is neither Hypercard nor Supercard, although, I would 
argue, the wonderful things that both HC and SC brought (and SC still 
brings) to the table are subsets of what Livecode offers.

It is exactly the subsets offered by HC and SC that seem to be neglected 
while great emphasis is being placed on LC as a full-blown computer 
programming language.

LC is a full-blown computer programming language, but unlike most other 
full-blown computer programming languages it has all the strentghs of HC 
and SC as well, and it seems a crying shame to forget or ignore that.

> > A standalone that delivers 15 minutes of immersive experience to a
> > demotivated pupil will always prove a winner.
> Agreed, though it's worth noting that HyperCard rose to popularity 
> long before it later added the ability to produce standalones.
> Curious:  what distinguishes "immersive"?

Distinguishes "immersive" from what? Certainly to my mind "immersive" 
means that when an end-user sits down in front of a screen displaying a 
piece of software 100% of their attention is gripped and held by that 
software; they forget, for the sake of argument, that they have a 
headache, an itchy leg and a cough.

I had a stroppy teenager who enjoyed himself enormously doing his utmost 
to provoke me when his Mum and Dad were actually paying me not to have 
adolescent fights with him but to teach him English.
Now I can give as good as I can get with any stroppy teenager, but I do 
find that after 10 minutes I've had enough and a small voice inside me 
is reminding me that I'm meant to be shoe-horning English into the 
stroppy teenager.

So, I get the stroppy teenager to sit down in front of a computer screen 
and look at some fairly goofy drag-n-drop activity in glorious 
technicolour (Please note I am avoiding the trademark "technicolor" . . 
. LOL), and blow-me-down if yon stroppy teenager doesn't stop being 
stroppy, starts scribbling in his notebook and generally getting on with 
what he is meant to be doing.

That is "immersive".

> >> Much of the courseware that was delivered on CD-ROM back in the day
> >> is now delivered over the Web with Moodle.  And there are many other
> >> difference besides.
> >
> > Yup: and you should here the filthy words issuing from my local
> > University's English department (where my wife is a Professor and I
> > am a visiting lecturer) when anyone has to do something with Moodle.
> I haven't used Moodle myself so I have no opinion about it.  But it 
> seems very popular.
> For comparison,'s Alexa ranking is very healthy at 
> 139,248, but Moodle astounds with a ranking of 9,085.
> They must be doing something right.  What might we learn from their 
> successes to make LiveCode as easy a choice for educators?

I think Moodle's edge is that it can be used collaboratively online.

In other respects it is fairly substandard.

> >> In the UK, LiveCode is already part of the core curriculum for grade
> >> school Computer Science.
> >
> > That's for children to learn programming with: that is not targetting
> > teachers with Livecode as authorware.
> I believe the teachers are a part of that classroom experience, though 
> you're right, flipped learning is gaining in many EDU settings.
> > I wonder exactly what you mean by "the UK" because Scotland has its
> > own, distinct, education system that is different from that used in
> > England and Wales.
> I meant nothing all that deep: Scotland is within the UK, and I don't 
> know the specific boundaries of LC's use within the UK.

"Scotland is within the UK" . . . well that is true, for now at least . 
. . but, just like individual states in the USA it does have its own 
department of education and educational system that does depart quite a 
bit from that in England.

> >> As we've explore ways we might achieve this among the educators in
> >> the States, one factor became clear:  nothing happens in US EDU
> >> unless it meets the Common Core standards.
> >>
> >> One of the projects in the EDU Outreach team in the forums
> >> identified this need early on, for the formation of what we hope
> >> will become a teacher's guide to LC.
> >
> > I see a need for 2 things:
> >
> > 1. A book for teachers on how they can leverage Livecode to author
> > stuff for classroom content delivery and reinforcement relatively
> > quickly. i.e. *Livecode as Authorware.*
> "Authorware" is a US trademark owned by Adobe.  But assuming a more 
> general term can be found, yes, with some good tools and templates to 
> provide a focus on delivering courseware LiveCode can be an excellent 
> foundation for a great many EDU needs.

"Authorware" may be a trademark, and so is "Hoover", but that does not 
stop "Hoover" being used as a generic term for any vacuum cleaner in 

I used 'authorware' rather than"Authorware", and, trademark or not, it 
is a convenient term to mean something other than a "programming 
development suite"; and Adobe has, by producing its "Authorware" helped 
define what that is really rather well.

The example that I gave with my mother exemplifies what I understand by 
'authorware': little or no scripting.

It may be useful (?) to design a "home stack" with preconfigured buttons 
and so forth . . .

> > 2. A book for teachers of IT to assist them in teaching young
> > children how to perform elementary programming tasks with Livecode.
> > i.e. *Livecode as an entry-level Programming Environment.
> Agreed there as well.  One of the goals of the EDU Outreach projects 
> is that everything be delivered under GPL or GPL-compatible license.  
> So if there's anything that project produces that might be useful, 
> we'll have licensing that actively encourages sharing and re-purposing.

Kevin Miller has shown himself to be very switched-on indeed by adopting 
a dual licence model for Livecode. Where he has slipped up a bit is not 
pushing the GPL version into all sorts of niches that were
a generation ago (Yes; we are dinosaurs) occupied by Hypercard and, 
owing to Hypercard's "death", lost.

It is possible to envision a "Teacher's Development Pack" consisting of 
Livecode, a set of template stacks, and a book called something like 
"Livecode for Teachers" which gets teachers up to speed on
AUTHORING stuff for in-house Curriculum delivery and reinforcement. This 
could even be sold for profit by Livecode.


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