|Don't ask to ask, just ask|
Camel Fishingby Ovid (Cardinal)
|on Feb 08, 2002 at 20:27 UTC||Need Help??|
I was chatting with merlyn one day (ooh, I'm such a shameless name dropper :) about the lack of Portland Perl Monger meetings and he said "why don't you run it?" Well, sometimes I'm not very bright, so I took over pdx.pm. It's been fun and we've had one social and one technical meeting (with the next meeting coming up). However, I am constantly getting email from people who ask a variant of the following question:
I want to learn Perl. I've signed up for the mailing list but some of the conversations are intimidating. Are these meetings okay for a beginner?
I always respond that we welcome any and all, from the "just looking" to the gurus. However, there has been a lot of interest in learning Perl, but not everyone can afford to pay for training. Further, just learning from a book can be deathly dull for some people (it is to me, for example). To deal with this, I'm thinking of a one-day (eight hour) Intro to Perl seminar. This is not to teach someone to program Perl. Rather, the intent is to give them enough exposure to the language that they will know where to look for answers when they want to get something done. I don't have the time or the resources to teach full time (even though I would love to). The intent is not to give them a fish, but to teach them how (hence, the title of this node and possibly of the seminar).
There were some very interesting ideas presented in the Teaching a class thread, but again, I am not trying to teach Perl. Here is the minimum of what I'm shooting for:
Item 1 would show they are serious. Maybe I could require they work through the LLama's Chapter 1 "Whirlwind tour" prior to attending? They could email me working copies of their programs as the price of admission :) I would probably request a very, very tiny change to the program just to show they didn't download the code from somewhere.
I think that writing a very simplistic BlackJack game (file IO demonstrated by saving high scores) would address item 2. Item 3 would teach them how to fish and item 4 would make it easier to manage and help them.
Learning Perl would be used because it's fairly straightforward. The curricula could open each section by briefly explaining the topic (scalars, arrays, regexes(!)) and then using that to build a new part of the BlackJack program. I don't want to commit to teaching them everything, but giving them a starting point seems workable.
Is this too ambitious for an 8 hour seminar? Can anyone suggest resources for developing a curriculum? I have three guinea pigs here at the office, so the first "real" seminar would not be totally new to me, but I could use some advice here. The one thing that really worries me is a comment that Tom Phoenix made to me (there I go name dropping again): "I never realized how much I didn't know about Perl until I started teaching it." That scares the heck out of me. Any common teaching pitfalls that I should be aware of?
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