Sunday, February 12, 2023

CS Students–Learn Your IDE

Eugene Wallingford had a great post on WHAT WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO SUCCEED AS A CS STUDENT? It’s got a lot of good advice and I recommend it to students in high school or university. For now I want to focus on one or two pieces of his advice. Specifically, “Get to know your programming environment”

For the most part, in class, teachers have time to do an introduction to the development environment but not much more. We run through “Hello World” or similar to walk students though creating a project entering code, and running their first program. That;s all we have (or perhaps all we make time) for.

Typically there is a lot more to a development environment than what we show students. Even a simple IDE like IDLE for Python or Visual Studio Code has a lot or options and functions we don’t go over in class.

Students who spend some of their own time exploring their development environment are going to have an easier time though out their course. Indeed, throughout their CS career.

Related to learning your development, Prof Wallingford suggests keeping your IDE open while reading through textbooks or other resources. That lets one more easily try out code examples while studying. That goes a long way towards understanding what one is reading. When I review textbooks or other teaching resources I always run the code examples for myself. In part , to see if they are correct of course but also to see for myself what students will see and learn from the example.

Writing code that is not specifically assigned for a course is always a help for learning. If a student takes the time to experiment with a project of their own interest they will do far better in the course they are taking.

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