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Using Open Source in Teaching Programming Print
December 2009

The Python programming language has been around for more than 10 years, and is being used by many organisations such as Google and NASA. It is a Functional and an Object Orientated language, and very easy to learn. It has a very large and diverse set of libraries (called 'modules') to do just about any task one can think of.  In addition, it is cross platform, running on Windows, Mac and Linux (with minor and obvious modifications).

Using Python for teaching has a number of advantages: shallow learning curve; zero cost of implementation; huge on-line help facility; large number of examples. In order to illustrate this, I recently put a video on the 'Net, downloadable from: http://www.archive.org/details/IntroductionToPythonUsingTurtleGraphics

For teachers who want to get into programming, I can recommend the book:  Dawson, M. “Python Programming for the absolute beginner” 2nd edition. ISBN 1-59863-112-8.  The first 10 chapters of the book deal with basic programming and are applicable for Python 2.6- the recommended version to use. Chapters 11 and 12 deals with games programming, and need 'Pygame' and 'Livewires' installed on top of Python 2.3. (Included on CD in the book). I don't recommend this, as I found this confuses beginners. By slowly working through all the examples in the book I have had more than one beginner ending up writing some pretty neat GUI programs.  Enjoy! 

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