I was recently on a course looking at how you can bring programming into the ICT curriculum in a practical way. As part of the course we looked at some great hands on tools, as well as some fantastic web-based programming resources. A handful of these were the Mozilla based coding tools. It’s like someone delved into the mind of an ICT teacher and pulled out exactly what they needed! Can you tell I nerded out over these a little?!
The 1st is the X-Ray Goggles. To start with you need to install it as a bookmark on your web browser, the instructions are easy enough and on the webpage when you 1st load it up. Once installed you can visit ANY website and start to play with the coding behind it. Simply click on any element to start changing and altering both text, links, and images. This is a great intro to the world of HTML with pupils, and shows them the structures and scaffolding behind their favourite websites. The thing I like most about this tool is the fact that you can publish your changes as a URL, allowing you to send and share your work with others. Tip: Discuss the idea of copyright and keeping work appropriate when online. who knows what they could write left by themselves!
In a nutshell: It works great as a quick and easy way to see the coding behind a website, however it can be fairly limited, for example it doesn’t allow you to see the style sheet of the overall page.
The second web tool developed by Mozilla is Thimble. Thimble is a web-based code editor designed to give complete novices a space to quick build, share and practice their skills. While there are other similar products out there Thimble is designed with the newcomer in mind. It really focuses on the teaching of basic HTML, rather than the more advanced side of things. For the more adventurous I would suggest something like Codecademy. Thimble runs as a side-by-side code editor and output, allowing you to instantly see your creations in real-time, providing you with instant feedback and tips if you do something slightly wrong.
As well as giving you the freedom to create and develop anything you like Thimble also offers a selection of ‘Remixes’. These are projects created by others and offered out for people to edit and play with. I tend to use these 1st with my pupils to give them some ideas and inspiration on what they build in HTML, before moving on to creating their own.
In a nutshell: Really simple and easy to use web editor, that offers some great instant feedback. However, for some security reasons it doesn’t support Java so be away before you get started.
For those, like me, who are a little daunted by the world of programming and coding these tools can prove as a great starting point. Give them a go, and share what you think!