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How Do You Teach New Users Programming?

by Tom Johnson on Apr 19, 2013
categories: 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.

About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm an API technical writer based in the Seattle area. On this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, AI, information architecture, content strategy, writing processes, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out my API documentation course if you're looking for more info about documenting APIs. Or see my posts on AI and AI course section for more on the latest in AI and tech comm.

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