Amphibian: Dual-Modality Representation in Integrated Development Environments


Blanchard, J., Gardner-McCune, C., and Anthony, L. 2019. Amphibian: Dual-Modality Representation in Integrated Development Environments. 2019. IEEE Blocks and Beyond Workshop (Blocks and Beyond), 83-85. [PDF]


“A significant challenge to using dual-modality environments in instruction is that existing dual-modality representations are built into sandbox environments with functionality tailored to a specific purpose (such as Pencil Code’s turtle graphics). However, students in introductory programming classes usually use an Integrated Development Environment (IDE), a software application that provides a suite of tools for programming support. The use of IDEs is common in industry, and thus they bring additional authenticity and scaffolding to the learning experience. We developed an IDE plugin, Amphibian, from Pencil Code’s Droplet Editor to enable switching between blocks and text within IntelliJ IDEA, a common IDE for the Java language. This plugin allows teachers of Java courses, including those of AP CS and in colleges, to incorporate dual-modality representation into their curriculum. It also enables more rigorous research into use of dual-modality environments in classrooms by facilitating use within existing curricula, allowing researchers to remove potentially confounding variables, such as use of different languages, software systems, and development environments.”