The Playground - interactive Canvas goodness

We've just created a Playground for testing out Javascript and the Canvas tag with Raphaël and EaselJS... At the moment, we're still loading example code to use with the playground, however there is also a default "blank" sandbox that you can use to test your own code in provided as well.

The feature set will grow over time, including contributing your own examples; however for now feel free to have a play and leave a comment here with any suggestions for features or code samples you may like to share.


High School Students and the Internet - not just consumers

Yesterday I met with the local High School to discuss the possibilities of getting involved by running programs for interested students in the areas of web and games development.  During the course of the meeting, I was asked to come up with a few paragraphs that the staff could use when promoting these programs, so I thought I'd put it up here (partly to help consolidate my thoughts into a hopefully cohesive introduction rather than just rambling on...).  So here goes.  Any constructive comments or suggestions are entirely welcome, so please don't be shy - jump right in to the conversation!

First a little background.  The school, Lara Secondary College in Victoria, Australia is really what you would call a regional school - Lara is situated outside of the nearest large city (Geelong) and is considered to be "The country between the cities" to quote one local resident.  While Lara is by no means a small country town and is rapidly growing, it still retains that small town community atmosphere.  The school itself has a Connections program for Year 9 Students running for a good part of the year one day a week, in which students are encouraged to take on projects that directly benefit the community in some way.

My original vision for setting up a what might look like a club within the school was to teach students some of the more cutting edge web technologies focussing on two areas:

  1. Web page layout and design utilising HTML5 and CSS3, and
  2. Online Games development utilising open source javascript frameworks and tools.

We would do this by coming up with a project that would benefit the community in some way - perhaps by re-desiging one of the local not-for-profit community organisations, or by designing a game with an educational focus to be used by the wider school community (and even by other schools)

So this is what I have come up with to introduce students to the idea and to generate some interest:

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Online Computing these days is pervasive in all areas of our daily lives - whether it be reading emails or chatting on Facebook, or perhaps playing your favourite game of Pac Man, the humble Web Browser is fast becoming less of an application in its own right and taking a seat in the background while it acts as simply a host to highly interactive and expressive web-based applications.  These days you can play games and watch movies; connect with people from across the globe; or just write that business document - all from within one of the popular Web Browsers without having to install a thing.

Today we have tools freely available within our grasp to not only create visually compelling web sites, but also make those websites dynamically interactive with video, sound, and animation.  There are tools and frameworks upon which games are being built, and high quality graphics can be rendered right within the browser window.  In fact, you can author a complete website  from scratch without having to open anything more than your favourite browser.

JavaScript - the programming language of the web browser - can be used to program a website to pull information and present it from sources all over the web - want your Facebook status displayed on your website? no problem.  Perhaps you have uploaded a new YouTube video and want to embed it on your site. Easy.  Or maybe you want to be able to plot geographical data and connect the dots with Google Maps.  JavaScript can be used to do all this and more.

We are looking for a group of students with an interest in computing, and who have a passion to do more than just use the web - they want to build it.  Students will gain an understanding of the building blocks of a website, and we then go beyond that to examine what it takes to create a game from scratch that can be used to deliver value to the wider community.  We will also have professionals who are experts in their field come in and hold workshops in the areas of Graphic Design and Web Development.

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That's it.  If anyone has anything to add, or any other comments, suggestions or thoughts, please, drop me a line...

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