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Computer programming: survey and basics for the techie non-programmer

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This will be a dense introduction to programming for non-programmers. We should cover enough history and explanation of the basics (syntax, semantics, coding elementals, etc?) to be able to learn a bit about modern programming and how/where it is used. Reveal and explain importants concepts. We should touch on the most widely used languages as well as some interesting minor languages being used in unique situations. It would be great to touch on ideas of toolkits or other non-core programming products/environments - how they work, what's out there, what the future might hold (openFrameworks, Android SDK, scripting languages like Lingo, anything relevant/interesting).

I think a single 3 hour or so course would be a good way to do it, with plenty of time allowed for Q&A, though the teacher should weigh in on this. Not looking for a 10 class course, more of a dense overview. I'd guess our buddies at Splatspace have a good teacher in the group.

A likely followup course would exploring programming and scripting in the multimedia world.

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I hear you Alan, we'll be ready whenever you're ready to teach! Dirk, are you still interested in teaching? if so, do you have an idea of when you might be available?

re: wearing out welcome: not at all. we have a projector as well, if whoever ends up instructing would like to use it.


re: Jessye, Dirk, and Alan

Shall we then move forward with an approximation of the original proposal with Dirk teaching, and plan on Alan's class likely happening at some point after 6 weeks from now? Are we in any danger of wearing out our welcome at Splatspace if we hold it there? I can set up a projector/screen/PC/wireless keyboard and mouse anywhere we have the class if Dirk wants it.

Dirk, what days or dates might work best for you?

Between the hackerspace challenge Splat Space is participating in for the next 6 weeks and an upcoming inter-Durham move, I won't be able to commit to preparing for and teaching a class in the near future - but I really want to at some point.

Re: class at splat space, If anyone is interested in scheduling an event before that time, I'm a member and am more than happy to schedule it on Splat Space's calendar and be there to open and close. Just let me know the when and where and I can work with whoever's teaching.

Hi all,

Despite some uncertainty over what this class should cover, we have a lot of interest in it and I'd like to get it scheduled. One idea I had is that it could become a two-part class, with, say, Dirk teaching the first and Alan the second, with the second putting to use some of the broader concepts introduced in the first. What do you guys think?

Also, is this something that would/ could happen at Splatspace?

PS: I didn't mean "prerequisite"; I meant preceding class.

Dirk: I hear what you're saying and welcome suggestions for adapting the course. Maybe one three hour chunk is too dense. I think a good deal of time dedicated to Q&A would be nice. What about a two hour session with up to an hour of Q&A/discussion?

Just to clarify - I'm thinking of it less as "Introduction to learning how to code" and more as "The basics/overview of how coding works and how it's being used", which obviously would involve some elements/syntax of coding, but wouldn't go too far in to starting our programming careers. There are a number of techie non-coding people around here who have occasional exposure to coding and could benefit from knowing a little more about the capabilities and mechanics of it. So yes, basically "intro to com sci" or perhaps "overview of com sci" is a good way to phrase it.

I would also welcome an Introduction to Coding class much like Alan was getting at. Do you guys think that should be a prerequisite for what I've proposed??

Matt: I think I'm following what your suggesting and I feel its a good idea at heart. A very broad introduction to computer science basically. However, its hard in any subject to give a broad coverage without any foundation to go on.

The concept of programming and writing code can be quite a shock to a lot of people. 3 hours and a whirlwind tour might scare people more than encourage them.

Alan: I like your idea, but it gets away from what I was going for with my proposal. An analogy: you're proposing we build a birdhouse but I was going for a big overview of woodworking including exposure to advanced stuff going on. So I think it's quite a bit different, but it does sound great and I would love to take that sort of class as well. Perhaps we should get it going straight away?

Dirk: you also said you can teach. Do you want to weigh in on this? Anyone else?

i'd love to teach something like this, but 3 hours sounds like too long to me.

I'd also consider structuring the class so that it was lighter on theory and history, and heavier on doing. I think it would be great if students came out of the class with a completed computer program and the knowledge, tools, and resources to write more on their own.

I first started programming coming out of such a class as a child, which is partly why I propose it. My personal experience is that even a limited amount of actual programming gives one a "feel" for the capabilities of computers that can later serve as the basis for understanding their applicability, theory, and history.

Does this sound either good or bad to anyone?

I could help teach, though there may of course be someone at Splatspace or elsewhere who might be a better candidate...


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