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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.

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer / API doc specialist based in the Seattle area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out simplifying complexity and API documentation for some deep dives into these topics. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me.