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Mandy Honeyman - Design Narrative - Introducing the 3 d’s to new programmers 15B

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Mandy Honeyman
28 March 2015




OU Live

Web conferencing software

Students have Sense programming software at home and a Sense board (with LED lights and a button)

Level one HE students

One tutors

Some students may have met at dayschool but would expect them not to know eachother.

They may have some sense of community from communicating on the forum.

They want to learn programming.


What were you trying to achieve?

The students may believe that they should use the programming environment immediately before working out a design and developing the logic for their program. I want to give them the tools to enable them to design the logic first which is then translatable into any computer programming language.

What was your measure of success?

The measure will be seen in their approach to the programming problems in the module.

Whether they are able to do the task set and quickly program a solution.


Introduce the 3 d’s

Firstly by using a mundane situation - taking off wallpaper

Define - define the problem in one sentence

Describe - describe the steps required to be able to create the details for the problem

Detail - write out the algorithm for solving the problem

Introduce the programming problem - setting up LED lights to model traffic lights

Put students in small (2 / 3) groups

report back each “D”

Students get caught out understanding the difference between describe and detail.

Tell them that one of the steps in describe needs to be to find the regulations for traffic lights.

Make sure they all have the correct algorithm (shared in large group)

Ask each student to program their Sense Board

Using simulator do application shares on random students


List the expected and unexpected outcomes of your actions. To what degree did you meet your objectives? What additional outcomes did you engender? Provide evidence to back your claims.

Those students who are already able to program find this much easier and need extension activities (using button as pedestrian wait)

Used to group students with an experienced programmer at helm, now make sure that all the non-programmers are together and let the programmers be creative - so split the groups. This is because programmers found it too easy and non-programmers were able to hide behind this.


I will try this out next week because this is a classroom activity we do at Dayschool but should be transferable to the OU Live environment.


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