Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Thursday Quote - Brian Dorn

"...the designers we interviewed consistently preferred learning from code examples to more general resources like books."
Reaching Learners Beyond our Hallowed Halls by Brian Dorn, from Communications of the ACM May 2011

Sounds like he's talking about us, doesn't it?

Except that would imply we actually have "more general resources like books" when in fact there are no books on SQL Anywhere, no courses, no certification programs, no nothing... well, not anything newer than what? five years old?

...six? seven?

Other than that, he could be talking about us... he's not, but he could be; here's an excerpt from the full article to show the wider context:

An Example in Graphic and Web Design

Over the course of the last five years, my colleagues and I have conducted a series of studies to better understand how to support the educational needs of a group of informally trained programmers. We have focused our attention on professional graphic and Web designers who actively write code in some aspect of their job.
. . .

Example-Driven Learning.

The main driver for our participants to learn something new about programming derives directly from the needs of the designer's current project. Within that context, the designer actively seeks out examples related to the end goal in a somewhat piecemeal fashion. Ideally, the designer learns as he or she sees examples that make use of new programming features. Unfortunately, this doesn't always happen due to the unavailability of relevant examples, differences between the current goal and that of the example, and the lack of explanation accompanying examples. The explanations found rarely draw out the computer science ideas used, instead favoring specific practical details. Despite the inherent problems and inefficiencies in learning this way, the designers we interviewed consistently preferred learning from code examples to more general resources like books. Of utmost importance, then, is the instructive quality of the examples being used (that is, with good explanations) and how obviously relevant the examples are.
Yup, forget the books, forget the courses, that's how we learn, by looking at examples... the docs are great but if there's anything they need more of it's examples... you can never have too many examples!

Next week: Jason Hong


Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

I have found some of the White Papers to be good guides (such as "Configuring the Relay Server with IIS using SSL") to be essential tutorials that I couldn't have done without. And I have found the SQLA Forum to be by far the best resource available to me; folks there have bailed me out of quite a few jams. (Let me see, who was it that started that...)But an easy to access set of sample code... that would be GREAT.

Bill Aumen