How Fast Can You Really Learn Programming

In the course I’m creating now, Pinkwebdev (an evening course for women), I decided to try out the principle of flipped classroom. We’re going to have 2 hours each week, 17 students and 12 weeks. That’s not a lot of time. So instead of them coming to the occasions and then just using all the time to listen to me droning on, I decided that they should listen to me droning on at home instead!

In hindsight this might not be such a novel thing, after all Khan Academy is huge in promoting the flipped classroom idea. For me it opens up for using all the time we see the students to just talking and together solving problems. It also makes it possible for students to learn at their own speed, rewatch videos, or skip things they already know.

What it doesn’t do is give opportunity for questions, you’re just supposed to watch all the videos and then do excercises later on, when we meet. And that sort of separates the theory from the practice, wich also could be a bad thing. But for me that’s the lesser of two evils. Better to be able to actually program when you see the reast of the group and the assistants.

But the main question I have now is how fast can you really learn? What is reasonable to learn in a week? I mean, you can go to university for 5 years to learn computer science, how far can you really get in 12 weeks?

I’m actually quite nervous now that I have set up too high a speed. Betweek week 1 and 2 I’m discussing

  • Running a function, with and without parameters
  • Creating and using variables
  • Primitive data types
  • Simple math (addition, multiplication and so on)
  • If-statements

And between week 2 and 3 I have crammed

  • Adding scripts to an HTML page
  • Create a function
  • Create function with parameters
  • Return data from function
  • Arrays
  • Loops
  • Objects

It sure looks like a lot to learn in two-three weeks, but I want to quickly get to where you can create stuff! I don’t really care that they understand the exact difference between function or methods, or that they have even heard of prototypal inheritance, or OOB vs functional programming. I want us to start creating web pages and solving problems.

I’m scared and excited at the same time to see if it works, or if it all crasches down and everyone quits because they’re so confused they all gave up. Time will tell, I guess.