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How Do You Teach New Users Programming?

Apr 19, 2013 • api-doc

I've recently fallen in love with a site called Code Academy, which juxtaposes a real-time programming console with instructions and activities. It's the most hands-on, interactive site I've come across, and I want to someday model my own help to be like it.

Here are a few key points:

  • Users learn by doing. Each concept has an associated activity with it that reinforces the concept through the activity.
  • The concepts have to be somewhat simple and concrete in order to demonstrate them through a hands-on activity.
  • Implementing a similar site would require help from a programming team.
  • Similar to the Let Me Try simulations, if you don't program the code exactly as it should be, the system sometimes thinks you did it wrong.
  • The instructional column is somewhat limited in the depth it can cover. Sometimes I'd like to just read a few paragraphs or pages on the topic.

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical communication — Swagger, agile, trends, learning, plain language, quick reference guides, tech comm careers, academics, and more. I'm interested in simplifying complexity, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture and findability, and more. If you're a technical writer of any kind (progressional, transitioning, student), be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here. You can also contact me with questions.