Joachim Breitner's Homepage
I’m running a computer club at the school in Ghana where am volunteering as a Free Software advocate at the moment (as you probably know already). At first I tried to spread a little bit of general hacker attitude by introducing an internal wiki and blog, and by explaining what Free Software is. Then some students indicated interest in a programming course, so I held python lessons in the club (Sessions 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10). Unfortunately, interest was declining over time, and while the first lessons had over ten participants (not to speak of the 20 at the very first one), it soon fell to around four. There was also some fluctuation, students leaving, others joining (and then of course lacking the lessions from the earlier sessions).
So today, with four students who only recently joined, I started something new: I introduced the game infon, by fellow entropianian Florian 'dividuum' Wesch. It is a networked battle area where bugs compete over food and fight each other. Suitable for the computer club makes it the fact that the bugs are not directly controlled, but the players write their “intelligence” (using the simple language lua) and only upload code to the server. They can even do this while the game is running and it was a very fun game to play at GPN5 in Karlsruhe. You can read my infon-tutorial, and it’s mostly non-SOSHGIC specific.
I got them far enough to type the code that I presented as an example, to get it running, and to extend it slightly. I am only hoping that they will dig in a little bit deeper until next week. I think that you can only be successful in learning programing or similar things if you spend some time doing it besides the classes, and I did not see that happening when I was doing python. Maybe I was going too fast or the text-only way of doing it was discouraging, but I did expect them to starting having their own ideas at least after we were programming a simple text-based maze in the club.