Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Learning By Coding

Throughout my career I have increased my knowledge by working on projects. As a teacher who teaches mostly beginners I don’t see a lot of complicated code. No I take that back beginners write lots of overly complicated code. What I don’t often see, because I don’t often need, are new language features, library routines, or good new ways of doing things.

Now sometimes I have students show me new things. Sometimes they stumble upon them. Sometimes they  go on the internet looking for ways to do things. And sometimes they learn them from parents in industry. These are all good things but sometimes I still feel like I am stagnating. That I am not learning enough. Perhaps even falling behind.

This last week was school vacation. That means time to think ahead and to look at things differently. I did a bunch of reading. Mostly I read papers from SIGCSE. Yes, I pay money for the privilege but its worth it to me. I also wrote some code.

I’ve got to grade Explore Performance Tasks from my AP CS Principles students. Since feedback is important I decided to write a program to help me generate that feedback. What was involved isn’t really that important. In fact I suspect that writing the code isn’t going to save me as much time as it took to write the program.

What is important, to me at least, was that I explored some new things. A new Windows Forms object (CheckedListBox for the curious) for one thing. I also got in some practice with ForEach. That’s not new to me of course but I did think about it in some new (to me) ways. It probably doesn’t seem like a big deal. It’s not going to get me a raise or a new job or even add something new to what I teach in my current classes. On the other hand it is the sort of thing that helps keep programming fresh, interesting, and fun for me.

It may turn out that some student will come to me with a problem that needs just the sort of things I played with last week. That would be great. But even if not, continuous learning is a good thing.

1 comment:

Garth said...

This is why I started dabbling in Unity and Blender. Something new and fun.