In the wake of my last blog post, I’ve been thinking a great deal about the practice of teaching, and specifically the practice of teaching programming. I’ve realized that while instruction in programming is increasingly popular and important, the people engaged in such instruction aren’t comparing notes, learning from one another, or generally working to improve the trade.
I’ve decided to try to change that. I’ve created a new site, Teaching to Code, a discussion forum aimed at anyone who teaches programming to others. Whether you teach in person, produce screencasts, or lecture at the university level, I’m sure that there are techniques, ideas, and suggestions that you can share with other people, and which can help to improve the craft of teaching programming.
It’s true that many of us in this community are commercial instructors. As a result, there will undoubtedly be some overlap and competition among the people who participate. I’m optimistic that we can balance these competitive instincts and realities with the goal that we all (presumably) have, namely to improve our students’ knowledge and understanding of programming in general, and of the technologies we teach in particular.
In addition to general discussion on a variety of topics, I’m also aiming to have a monthly book/journal club. Each month, we’ll discuss a book, journal article, or blog post (or even a video, I guess) that can inform and improve our teaching. Some of the initial suggestions will come from readings I’ve had in graduate school; there were a number of papers that have really influenced my thinking, and that I believe will be interesting and useful for others, too. But I know that I’ve only read a minority of things written on this subject, and would be delighted to read and then discuss these items, as well.
If you’re a programming instructor of any sort, please join us! Contribute to the fledgling discussion, and suggest how we can make it better. If there is something that you feel could help you, or improve your teaching, then you can either ask on the forum or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Either way, I hope that Teaching to Code will become a community of practice for programming instructors worldwide, helping teachers and students alike.