Been thinking about M255/257 lately, as I'll no doubt be tackling them within the next year. One of the things that I find most daunting is the prospect of learning Java. I've never really got to grips with a programming language before, so I've been considering ways to make it more fun, practical and engaging.
One possibility I'm toying with (oh, the pun), is using the Lego Mindstorms NXT Robots as a learning aid. Not only will it be good fun playing about with robots, but it will also allow me to practice what I learn in the courses and build on this knowledge. There's already a fair bit of support for this approach on the web, coupled with an API for the bots called LeJOS, enabling a Java programmer to control the bots. Furthermore, there's a LeJOS extension out there for BlueJ (the Java development platform introduced from M255 onwards) so I believe I have all I need to make this a reality.
Keen to find out if anyone's tried this already for the OU courses. How easy is it to get to grips with for the novice programmer? Any advice?
1. "The use of Lego Mindstorms NXT robots in the teaching of introductory Java programming to undergraduate students" (PDF) by Liz Gandy. See: www.ics.heacademy.ac.uk/italics/vol9iss1/pdf/paper01.pdf
2. "Building Robots with Java Brains" by Brian Bagnall. See: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Maximum-LEGO-NXT-Building-Robots/dp/0973864958
3. "LeJOS, Java for Lego Minstorms". See: http://lejos.sourceforge.net/
4. "LeJOS NXJ extension for BlueJ". See: http://homepages.feis.herts.ac.uk/~comqdhb/lego/bluej.php