The course taught at MIT comes at the introductory course with a radically different approach than that of Brown. While both courses are taught in Java, the course at MIT includes many of the ideas that we have discussed in class.
The pre-lab assignments include hand simulation, questions that beg the design. They generally seem to be a good preparation for a program. Now, the actual labs seem kind of large to me. The first lab is to track a point around the creeen an make it leave a trail. The pressure of four hour labs might be great and cause fear. I like the idea of having all the time until a certain date to finish a project.
If we were to include that in our curriculum I don't know how it would fit. The assignments that are given to the students are so large that basically all the time is lab time.
But the thing that I do like is the prelabs...not the LABS but the prelabs. They include hand simulation and basic pseudocode that teaches the kiddies the basics of syntax and such. These could be very useful for particular programs...like playing with arrays before Tetris.
So this is my idea: we have this little problem, they are called "help sessions". The problem that is usually associated with these "help sessions" is that the students are generally not prepared for them...they haven't even thought about the program at that point. We use the mini preprogram assignments as admission to the help sessions. I know that I didn't think this up...I think it was Danah that suggested that we have the students prepare questions as admission to the help sessions. But this is better! (Not that she was off her rocker...it just needed to be modified.) This way the students actually have reason to do it...they'll be graded upon it! And the help sessions would theoretically actually be able to help! Like a mass of TA hours all at once. Everyone can come up with their questions that are drawn upon the preprogram assignments that have direct correlation with the programs. That way people have thought about the program before they come to help session. TA DA!
This is the link to the prelab exercise that I adapted to 15. Below is the adapted version. The prelab for MIT focuses on GUIs in awt. Because we use GP I adapted it to GP. This prelab is intended for MoviePlayer considering that it is where we learn the most about GUIs. I'd say it was the "intro" to GUIs.
Shock, horror...there's is no silly premise other than the fact that you have to work on understanding the concepts and principles that underly GUIs for this course. Get to know GP, make it your friend...the sooner the better.
That way, later, when you use it for ALL YOUR OTHER PROGRAMS you'll hear GP say your name just like "Norm!" on Cheers.