The proposal originates from the need to provide a streamlined environment to help first-year undergraduate-level university students ease into the combined challenges of learning about programming, programming languages, and an integrated development environment.
Initial work has focused on providing a simplified Java development perspective with a view that makes it much easier to create packages and classes for assignments. Future work may include streamlining of other workflows, views, and editors. I think this project has a lot of cool potential. Imagine integrating some ECF code that would allow a student—with the push of a single button—to share their editor with a teaching assistant to get help remotely. Or another button that—with a click—packages up the work and submits it for marking.
As a general rule, the SOC project is intended as a place for mentored student work done under the Google Summer of Code (GSoC) programme. However, we were careful when we created the project to allow for flexibility. The spirit of the project is to provide a place for student and student-related work to occur. I believe that the Eclipse IDE for Education falls into the student-related category.
I believe that the Eclipse IDE for Education has many merits that bring value to the SOC project. In particular:
- It will be long-lived and thus should provide some much-needed continuity to the project
- We have started to attract other professors and researchers to get involved. Their involvement will raise the awareness of the SOC project
- Some students are bound to get involved. It seems like a natural thing for SOC 2009 student projects.
Initial committers on the new project will likely all be SOC mentors. However, I do anticipate that we will pick up several students once we get the project underway. In my fantasy scenario, the component will act as a lightening rod for student involvement.