Since 2016 when Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) wrote to secondary schools recommending Visual Basic and C as the two programming languages to be taught at O level, many ICT teachers have been pointing out challenges with teaching programming and confessing that they dont have the skills and knowledge to teach the two languages. In fact, most of the teachers do intentionally omit the entire topic while others have made a decision to teach only C programming and leave out Visual Basic.
However Mr. Kakuru Benard, an ICT Teacher at Equatorial College, Ibanda has done commendable work with his students in Visual Basic programming and has been generously sharing quality teaching resources with the rest of the country. Equatorial College School, also known as ECS, is a private secondary school in the Ibanda District in western Uganda. It was founded by a group of professionally skilled teachers in 2002.
The challenges and fears
Many teachers are biased about teaching programming at O level. Recently when reacting to last years poor performance in computer studies, many teachers faulted UNEB for setting programming in last year’s UCE computer studies exam. Below are reactions / feedback through some the ITAU social media platforms and past workshops regarding the challenges and fears of ICT teachers.
Mr. Kakuru Benard’s Inspiration to fellow teachers
I first came across the name Kakuru Benard two years ago on Sharebility Uganda when he uploaded several standard UNEB-Like Post Mock Examination Practice papers to the resource pool.
Since then, he has uploaded several resources listed under his profile page on sharebility, including a compilation of notes and exercises on programming in Visual Basic. Recently, Mr. Kakuru posted a complete topical exam consisting of all sections of a standard exam (A, B and C) entirely focusing on programming! This was an extra ordinary effort which took him alot of hardwork on his part. I inboxed him and asked him how he finds time to do all this kind of work and how his students find topic of programming. Below was his response:
“At first when students could see numbers of programming in section B and C thought it was a hard topic…Kakuru’s Testimony
But I gave those learners Mukalele’s handout notes on programming and they copied those notes in the holidays of first term and with early reporting we started together with simple numbers trying to understand what a pseudo code mean, program algorithm, flow charts, types etc and then we started writing, pseudocodes, flow charts and finally codes in a programming language particularly VB on play forms of Visual Studio for machines of core i3 to i5 and Visual Basic Express for machines of Duo core and lastly Portable version of VB for Pentium machines..
Learners kept on doing thorough practice and exercises even inquiring more and more on such a topic I even used teaching aid of the report card systems Library and Finance at our school that incase they continue with this programming skills such customized programs will be developed by them selves.
And now they can answer sections A, B and C very well regarding programming.
Teachers need to adjust and stop the mentally that programming as a topic mbu it’s hard. Change the way we see things and act.
Here are some of the resources that I have been using in programming.
Visual Basic and C compared
Visual Basic (also known as VB) is an event driven programming language. It comes from Microsoft and is used specifically for its programming model. It is lauded as a simple language to learn because of its BASIC heritage and its graphical development features. VB enables rapid application development (or RAD) of GUI applications;
VB was conceived to come as naturally as a language for programming beginners. Because of its ease of use, it is capable of both allowing programmers to create basic GUI applications and develop complex applications.
C on the other hand is a popular systems implementation language (meaning it is a programming paradigm that describes the computation terms of statements that are meant to change the state of a program and puts those terms into effect). Its design is minimalistic in nature –it was created to be compiled with a straightforward and comprehensive compiler in order to provide low level access to memory, provide language constructs that efficiently map to machine instructions, and to require as little runtime support as necessary. As it is was designed with simple constructs in mind, it is very valuable for those applications that were previously coded in assembly language (a low level language that put into effect symbolic representations of the numeric machine codes needed to program CPU architecture). Read more: Difference Between VB and C
NB: According to this Visual Basic tutorial by Baylor University, Visual Basic is not a replacement or alternative for C. It only provides a convenient method for building Windows Graphical User Interfaces, and therefore the learners should be introduced to both because each has unique features which can help explain the different theory concepts.
Integrated Development Environment for Visual Basic
You need to have a Microsoft account to download the package, it also requires a strong internet connectivity to install. Another challenge is that the package is big (latest 2019 editions approx. a GB) and it requires a relatively strong PC requirements to run, yet in most of our schools the PCs are not as strong (in terms of RAM, disk size and Processing power), and is not supported on older operating systems such as Windows XP (which is still being used in some of our schools in Uganda with old computers) .
Below is the direct link for downloading another older version of Visual Studio Express 2012 (608MB) offline installer
The New portable 6MB version of Visual Studio by
Recently, Mr. Kakuru posted into our WhatsApp group a zipped file containing a portable version of Visual Studio IDE which is only 6MB and ready to run on even the weak computers – it runs on even PCs having Windows XP, Windows 7, up to Window 10!
I was excited to see this portable (ready to run ) version because At O Level, we dont need the entire Visual Studio bundle (which includes Visual Basic 6.0, Visual C++, Visual InterDev, Visual J++, Visual Source Safe, Visual Library, MSDN Library etc) which is very huge. We need to utilize just Visual Basic 6.0 essential.
I have also availed a backup on this website. So we just have to Download version this of Visual Basic Portable 6.0 to Learn and teach the VB Programming language.
Using the pre-installed Visual Basic Editor in Microsoft Excel
- In case your school’s computers are not strong enough and have no internet access, necessary to install the fully-fledged Visual Studio IDE, you can activate and use the Visual Basic Editor which comes preintalled with Microsoft Office. First, make sure that the Developer tab is visible in the toolbar in Excel as described in this earlier post. This VBA option can help your students practice with Visual Basic syntax but you can not save the programs as stand alone executable (.exe) files. For this, its better you use Visual Studio or the Portable version.
Programming Resources, Past Papers and Marking Guides by Kakuru Benard
Out of his generous heart and sharebility spirit, Mr. Kakuru has availed the following resources specially for the sake of accompanying this article. Simply click on the download links and enjoy!
NB: Mr. Kakuru sent me an entire folder of many theory and practical papers including those with support files, I have only uploaded here some few. You can directly contact / WhatsApp him on 0775610762 and discuss more.
Sample ‘VB PROGRAM TO SUM AND AVERAGE TWO INPUT NUMBERS
- Open your Visual Basic Editor.
- Click on the New UserForm Button on the tool bar to start a new project.
- Change the text of the form to SUM AND AVERAGE PROGRAM in the properties window, it will appear as the title of the program.
- Insert a command button (drag it from the toolbox – you can also modify its properties) and
- Double Click on it to bring up the code window.
- Enter the code program code below between Private Sub and End Sub procedure. ‘NB: an Apostrophe (‘) is used to start inline comments in Visual Basic as compared to two slashes in C (//)
Private Sub CommandButton1_Click()
Dim X, Y, Sum, Average As Integer 'Declaring variables
X = Val(InputBox("Enter value for X")) 'Prompting user to input value X
Y = Val(InputBox("Enter value for Y")) 'Prompting user to input value Y
Sum = X + Y 'Add X and Y and store in Sum variable
Average = Sum / 2 'Divide Sum by 2 and store in Average variable
MsgBox ("Sum is:" & Sum) 'Display Sum and Average with other text
MsgBox (" Average is: " & Average)
End Sub 'End Program
- When you run this program and click on the command button, you should get a popup message boxes with the Sum and another with the Average!
- In case of any syntax or run time error, the debugger will show you its location in the visual basic editor. Debug and run again.
- After running successfully, you can now click on File Menu –> Make .exe and save your newly made executable software to the computer!
Basic Visual Basic Tutorial for Teachers of Computer Studies
Watch the Youtube video embedded below for a demo on how to get started with Visual Basic and creating simple programs like a basic calculator.
Other Teaching Notes and References / Resources on Programming
Computer Studies and ICT Teachers have a
scarcity of reference books with the programming notes. Many confess
that they dont have the notes. I have compiled a list of some Academic
- Visual Basic Tutorials at VBTUTOR.NET (These tutorials cover both the legacy Visual Basic 6 and the newer Visual Basic.NET programming language plus Excel VBA )
- Programming Handout with notes and past paper questions Compiled and Shared by Mukalele Rogers: S4 Topic 11 Elementary Programming Notes Handout with Past Paper Qns and Answers (37 downloads)
- Computer Studies Notes, Past Papers by Mwangaza Secondary School Kenya: http://mwangazasecondary.sc.ke/content.php?pid=54 (Check out the Elementary Programming under Form 3)
- PSEUDOCODE STANDARD by California Polytechnic State University http://users.csc.calpoly.edu/~jdalbey/SWE/pdl_std.html
- BBC Algorithm Designs: https://www.bbc.com/bitesize/guides/z3bq7ty/revision/3
- Programming Basics by Vidyapeeth University India: http://www.tmv.edu.in/pdf/distance_education/bca%20books/bca%20ii%20sem/bca-222%20%27c%27%20%27programming.pdf
- Pseudocode and Flowcharts notes by RICE University: http://www.owlnet.rice.edu/~ceng303/manuals/fortran/FOR3_3.html
- VIDEO: Concepts of Algorithm, Flow Chart & C Programming by Garden City University https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DF2XAc07eI0
- Computer Studies Notes section on Elimu Library Kenya: https://elimulibrary.com/site/category/5/secondary-notes/15/computer-studies
- C Programming Foundation Level Notes: https://www.ictteachersug.net/cmdownloads/1102-c-programming-foundation-level-pdf/
- Visual Basic tutorial by Baylor University
12. California State University Guide on use of InputBox and MsgBox for input and output in Visual Basic.
Feel free to download and also to share other resources you may be having by uploading them to the resources sharebility section of this website or by leaving links to other resourceful sites in the comment section at the bottom of this page.
Dont miss the Northern Region rCDW in Lira on 13th July
Mr. Kakuru Benard has confirmed that he will travel all the way from Ibanda in Western Uganda to attend the Northern Uganda based regional ICT Teachers Capacity Development workshop scheduled for Saturday 13th July 2019 at Dr. Obote College Boroboro in Lira, the land of innovation.
Mr. Kakuru is going to be the lead facilitator for the morning hands-on session on programming with visual basic and I will be a co-facilitor during the session. Download invitation letter with full program below:
We shall share more information and tips and give out a compilation of resources which will be included on the workshop DVDs which will be given out to all attendees free of charge!
All source code and workshop presentations in softcopy will also be shared to the participants through their email registered through the form at cdw.ictteachersug.net.
A joint trip to Lira for members based in Kampala and all those who can join us in Kampala is also being planned – please find the details at trips.ictteachersug.net and book your seat early before they are sold out.
Article By Mukalele Rogers
National Coordinator ITAU 2018-2020
0776960740 / 0706060740