Knowledge Systems Institute
Proceedings of the International Conference on Distributed Multimedia Systems
We report on a scalable, portable, and secure visual development environment for programming embedded Arduino platforms with Chromebooks in a successful secondary school computer science curriculum. Our web-based environment is part of the larger MUzECS project, an inexpensive replacement module for the Exploring Computer Science (ECS) course being widely deployed in United States high schools. Students use MUzECS to gain a deeper understanding of computing, through a set of blocks which provide appropriate abstractions for working with low-level hardware.
MUzECS improves upon the existing curriculum module by reducing the hardware cost by an order of magnitude, while still preserving the key ECS pillars of computer science content, student inquiry and classroom equity. Programming with visual blocks provides a more attractive tool for introductory courses than traditional approaches, and yet enables high-impact exploration activities such as building a series of embedded musical instruments.
The current work combines and modifies several existing tools to eliminate technical barriers on low-cost platforms like Chromebooks, such as the reliance on special block-based toolchains, remote compilation servers, or multi-stage transfers for student code.