I read something on this site, that lead me to read about Bret Victor's learnable programming and direct manipulation.

I was wondering if anyone has used any software like this.

What software have we used? What effect did it have on teaching and learning?

What is direct manipulation, also referred to as learnable programming

Victor tells us that the techniques that we now use, are based on best practice from the days of paper and pen, teletypes. That we have not yet adapted to this new media and what it can do. That typing a program, and then immediately running it, is not immediate enough. Output should change as code changes, not wait for us to press run. We should be able to manipulate the output, to change the code. Not just manipulate the code, to change the output.

enter image description here An example: Here we see the programmer, manipulating a variable, by using a slider. We the the effect on the output. We see the effect over time. The programmer is trying to give the turtle the correct bounce, so that the jumping character will be able to get through the gap. The programmer no-longer had to do long calculations, or do guess/change/run cycles. Whey just slide the slider until they see what they want.


Preference is for Free Software, that is software with freedoms, not with zero price (I do not introduce proprietary software into my school).

  • $\begingroup$ Does SHENZHEN I/O meet your requirements? $\endgroup$
    – Guy Coder
    Commented Dec 17, 2017 at 21:19

2 Answers 2


App Inventor syncs with a tablet so that as students change the app's code, it changes the app running on the tab. It can't auto-sync media, so you have to re-sync the app when you add new sound or pics. It syncs via wireless network or usb.

Khan Academy offers this slider concept with its Javascript Animation lessons.

  • $\begingroup$ Would you mind providing links to the relevant Kahn Academy lessons? Screenshots would also be useful because of the visual nature of the question. $\endgroup$
    – thesecretmaster
    Commented Jan 18, 2018 at 19:15

The NetLogo agent-based modelling environment is a teaching tool which uses an enhanced Logo that can have inputs hooked up to sliders. I have played with its simulators sometimes just for my own amusement.

A nice simpler model is the one displaying how freeways get clogged, just playing with the rate at which cars accelerate and decelerate.

Important most models have both a Setup and a Go button. If you don't press Setup nothing happens.

All the nodels have an Info tab at the bottom which explains how the model works and usually the effect of its input variables.

  • $\begingroup$ I just had a look, I went to the examples. I see sliders, I see buttons. I slide sliders, I press button. But that is it, nothing happens. Am I doing something wrong? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 18:53
  • $\begingroup$ Most of the models have a "Setup" button then a "Go" button. I assume you're talking about the climate simulation which comes up first on the web version - it works if you press those two in order. (Typical code written by scientists ;-) $\endgroup$
    – Andy Dent
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 2:10
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks I tried that last time, this time it worked (different models, so that may be a factor). $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 10:32

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