Friday, July 26, 2013

Homeschool Programming - TeenCoder Java Series Review

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Homeschool Programming has created computer programming courses for kids and teens for web design, windows programming, game programming, Java programming, and Android programming.  These courses were created by homeschooling parents with degrees in computer science and engineering who were unable to find any adequate courses on the market, so they created their own.  We were fortunate enough to be sent the CDs for the TeenCoder Java Series which includes Java and Android Programming.  The Java series is geared towards high school students.

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 photo TCJVYP_CD_zps7749a5f3.pngJacob, who is going into 10th grade, was able to make it to the 13th chapter (out of 16) in Java Programming.  He worked through a chapter or two each week for the first seven weeks but has not been able to work much on it this last week because of another commitment.  He is eager to get back to it now so that he can finish it up and move on to the Android programming materials.  Because he knows more about programming than I do (which is not hard) and has used this program, I have asked him to help with this review.  He used another programming curriculum in the past, so he has experience from which to draw.

"I enjoyed learning about Java Programming using this course. I've always had an interest in programming and video games, and this course has and will continue to teach me how to program in the Java language. I had tried to learn C++ a few years back, but it was too hard. TeenCoder made Java easy to learn along with the already simple language. The series comes as a CD and also as a downloadable executable file and PDF. There are sixteen chapters in the first section dedicated to the Java language on the PC or Mac. Then there are fifteen chapters in the second section dedicated to the Java language on Android Smartphones. Each chapter introduces you to a new tool used in programming. By the end of each chapter, you will have developed a simple program using your new found knowledge in the Eclipse Java Integrated Development Environment, or IDE. After, or before, you read the lesson, you will watch the videos contained on the CD in order to further extend your programming knowledge. The executable files extract zip files for you and install a few files to help you with your lesson if you are stumped or need a base program to start off with. If you ever had any interest in developing programs or games, I highly recommend this series." - Jacob B.

The Java Programming course and the Android Programming course can each be purchased in a variety of ways.  Separately, they are each:

Course only ... $75.00.
Course and videos ... $90.00
Videos only ... $20.00.

They can also be purchased as an entire year's worth of curriculum (Java and Android together) at a great discount:

Course only ... $130.00
Course and videos ... $155.00
Videos only ... $30.00

Shipping is relatively inexpensive.  Media mail is used through USPS when it is an available option.

Each course comes with installation instructions, tests, answer keys, and solutions to the programming activities.  This is especially helpful for parents like me who know NOTHING about programming.  I can administer tests to be sure that Jake is on track and really understanding what he is learning.  If he is still not understanding something, there is FREE technical support.  So, no matter what, I don't have to know how to program in order for my child to take this course.  There is always a way to find the answers he needs to better understand it.

Although we didn't get to the Android programming part of the course, allow me to share a little bit about that.  As the Java course begins with an introduction to Java programming, the Android course begins with an introduction to Android devices.  The student is given an overview of Android devices and their operating system.  The Java course teaches them how to use Eclipse, and the Android course has them using Eclipse with the Android Tools.  Students are introduced to XML (Extensible Markup Language) which allows them to program for an Android device.  Both programs talk about user input and debugging.  The Java course is a prerequisite for the Android course because a lot of things in Java are building blocks for what is learned in Android.  The second half of the Android course focuses more so on the Android environment and writing apps for it.  Each course has an activity after each chapter for the student to do where they use the knowledge they've gained up to that point.  At the end of Android, the student will create a game that can be used on an Android device.

Sample pages and demo videos are available.  The hardware and software requirements can be found on the FAQ page.

While I know nothing about programming, I can heartily recommend this course as it has captured my son's attention completely.  He is very excited to learn, and this program does it in a way that is fun for him and extremely professional.


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