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Run BASIC: Online programming

Interesting online teaching tool could be great resource for schools

By , Network World
February 26, 2007 12:04 AM ET
Gibbs

Network World - Education has capitalized on the Internet in the most remarkable way. The teacher resources available online cover every topic conceivable and include every kind of teaching material possible.

I just found an interesting online teaching tool that, while it is still very much at a beta level, could be a great resource for schools. The tool is called Run BASIC.

This site, owned by Shoptalk Systems, was built from the company’s product, Liberty BASIC.

Run BASIC provides a programmable BASIC interpreter as an online service so that users can create programs and execute them on the Web site.

The user interface for writing your own programs consists of a text field (the editor window) in which to enter your code; a run button; a check box to set the user interface so that the editor window can be automatically hidden when you run a program; and a “Share with a friend” link.

Actually, the share link also saves your program for 48 hours as well as sending an e-mail message to your friend. This is, in fact, the only way to save your programs unless you select all of the text in the editor window and copy it to a local document.

It would also be a good enhancement if the site supported accounts so that you could keep your programs for longer and be able to add them to a public library.

The site has some example programs and some limited educational materials, and is obviously pretty new.

The syntax of the version of BASIC used is pretty standard. There are few limitations other than the fact you can’t do any kind of animation, and file input/output is limited to sandboxed files on the server (you can also upload files through programming).

Run BASIC is a great idea and you easily could imagine versions for Perl and Ruby as well as truly interactive versions, perhaps in Flash, so that animation and more sophisticated graphics could be simulated.

This site is a nice demonstration that shows we can expect even more from the Web for education.

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

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