My Introduction to CS class at USF was featured at a Google User Group Meeting. Freshmen Aaron Draczynski and Matt Cline demonstrated the ‘Bookface’ social network software they created as a class project using Python and Google’s App Engine:
The idea behind the class was this: computer students typically don’t get to write web software and other cool stuff until they’ve learned the basics for a year or more. This can lead to a lack of motivation and students not continuing as CS majors, even though they are really excited about the web and computing.
This summer I learned about Google’s App Engine and was pretty wowed. It eliminates some of the barriers to web programming for beginners: you don’t have to setup a database or server as its all setup for you and housed within the greatest computing infrastructure ever created. Could this technology, combined with the wonderful Python programming language, allow beginners to learn web software in one semester?
As we near the end of this experiment, I believe the answer is a profound ‘YES’. The students have been extremely motivated, working harder than perhaps any other class I have taught. I think they’re pretty excited to have written a social network as opposed to just using one!
If you’re interested in learning to build dynamic web applications using Python and Google App Engine, check out these notes.