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Comments about Mama and using it at schools
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Posts: 14
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Guatemala
Default Comments about Mama and using it at schools - 06-02-2010, 01:08 AM

I think I am going to try Mama. According to all the comments I have read I may be missing something big if I don’t.
I have been an Alice enthusiast for some years now. I have promoted its use in schools here in Guatemala, and I have even taught short curses to teachers on how to use it in class. I have also noticed its shortcomings so when I read about your version I couldn’t but think that finally someone has taken Alice to the next level.
Anyway, I don’t think it is a product that can be widely promoted in schools as a learning tool or better be adopted by a government body (like our education ministry here in Guatemala) as part of a strategy for promoting computer science among students.
The reason is because it is not free as Alice is. I have seen other tools with the same handicap. There is Dark Basic for example. Not too expensive, with a long trial period suitable for a semester long course, easy to use and attractive for students, but not open and not free. It doesn’t matter that its price is not high. The question is how readily available will it be for students that are not sure they want to use it and explore it. If you are not a person that has decided that the animation industry is what they want to do for a living then even those $10 are a high price, because it is not the price of a software, it is the price to see if animation is fun or worthy.
For those students that try Alice and find it interesting and want to make a living out of animation, Mama could be a natural next step, something like a “Pro” version of Alice.
Animation studios may want it to train new hires but Alice could do that too as well as some other free and open programs.
Mama seems to have all those nice features of modern IDEs like intellisense, debbuging tools, and others. I have been a programming teacher and sometimes I just don’t like those features. They are very useful for the professional programmer, but for the beginners the teacher may prefer the raw nature of a simple text editor that forces the student to be careful with syntax, variable definitions, indentation and to invent ways of finding bugs, at least for some time, just to make sure the student understands that programming is not magic and that it is not made by computers but by humans that have to think.
These two points – the not-open, not-free nature of Mama, and its advanced features – make it less suitable for wide use in schools.
Well, these are my first impressions after finding Mama and reading about it.
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