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Follow the journey of three beginners who are learning to code (codelearn.org)
100 points by pocha 1664 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 35 comments

I'm happy to see them going ahead with this. Codelearn has some interesting technology under the hood and deserves a bit more recognition than it seems to have had so far. (Disclaimer: I've had a preview of their platform as I often write about Ruby/Rails stuff.)

Another thing to bear in mind is that this almost harks back to how the Rails community was in 2004-2006. A ton of people blogging about the things they'd learnt and found out. Then they became experts, Twitter was born, and not so many people blog "hey, I learnt this about Rails!" anymore.. :-)

Intriguing! What's the tech under the hood?

Its Ruby on Rails itself :).

Neat idea! We'll be following along as we've found students do better with a bit more structure than this program provides, but there are so many ways of learning it may work well.

What I like most is the personal help. It promises not just a video but guidance to the best video based on where the "noob" is located... that's awesome.

I would say that "passively by dropping comments to the blog" feels like a low bar (but maybe I'm reading too literally?). The response rates to questions must be prompt – the difference between getting an answer in 30 seconds and 10 minutes is huge for me, and I've been writing software for 15 years. It's only worse for beginners.

For our students at Thinkful (http://www.thinkful.com/) getting human contact promptly is key... our students only like banging their heads against the wall for so many minutes before getting demotivated!

> The response rates to questions must be prompt – the difference between getting an answer in 30 seconds and 10 minutes is huge for me, and I've been writing software for 15 years. It's only worse for beginners.

I think the there is a lot of learning involved when you are trying to figure out an answer. If things are answered very quickly they won't try at all and ask the person, even though the answer is very simple.

I agree in the principle you're after (independence beats dependent on someone else) but not the method.

Quick response rates help people feel not alone. And that's really really important because alone is too close to helpless is too close to powerless is too close to giving up.

To develop independence you need a good teacher. That's one who helps you understand why the answer is the answer, rather than just gives you the answer. Teach a person to fish... basically.

I agree with this. When I was first learning to code I was ten, and my mentor would show me the solution, and I would go 'aaaah I get it now', and then he's ask me if I really understood it, which I would sometimes reply with 'not really, no'.

Copy paste compile, a terrible way to "learn".

I'm a touch sceptical here - while I appreciate a noobs perspective whenever I'm starting something new, I prefer to see something that encourages best practice - a mix of experience through the eyes of a noob would be better in my opinion.

Agreed. But note that it's not all "noobs" helping "noobs"... there's someone who knows chiming in with directional support along the way. That's a big difference.

Coursera tries "peer learning"... commonly referred to in the forums as "the blind leading the blind."

At Thinkful we definitely see a benefits from both peers and experts...

I'm very comfortable using CakePHP. I've built many apps using knockout.js on top of it, extensively used jQuery and AJAX throughout and have used both MySQL and MongoDB to drive the data.

For someone like me who is confident in their abilities of another MVC framework, how much of a learning curve is involved transitioning over to ROR (or any other MVC for that matter)? Has anyone switched from say Django, CakePHP or MVC4 over to Rails, or vice versa?

I switched from Django to Cake to ROR. There isn't much difference structurally, as all of them are after all MVC architecture, but there are little subtle things which bring about the difference in feel and usability. Cake is heavily inspired from Rails but it doesn't focus much on command line as Rails does. For any common command you have which will add files, there is a command to in Rails to bring about that change and generate ALL THE RECOMMENDED files at once. These include test files, migrations, css, js, helpers etc. This makes life much much easier. Plus, ruby feels much pleasant when compared to PHP and thus, you won't regret switching to here. It'll take 2 days to be able to create a workable app. Although you'll find a new concept in Coffee script (Which is basically using ruby syntax for JavaScript), but you can easily switch back to JS if you want by removing the extension. Come over to the dark side, you'll love it.

I've been thinking about giving rails a chance. I'm in the middle of a project using Cake right now, so I think when I finish it I'll start checking out ROR.

> For any common command you have which will add files, there is a command to in Rails to bring about that change and generate ALL THE RECOMMENDED files at once

Maybe I'm misinterpreting this, but it sounds an awful lot like Cake's bake functionality.

For you ROR guys, here's a short tutorial on baking with CakePHP.


Yes, it's very close to Bake functionality, but has many more commands. For example, if I remember correctly, there are no migration files in Cake and you have to do the changes in database manually. Try the migration feature of Rails, you'll never go back again.

Good idea, questionable execution:

* Should have had a female in the group

* The first guy isn't "learning to code", he's a programmer learning a new language/framework

Why does it matter if a female didn't end up being in it?

Seems obvious–having a female in the group might ease some anxiety/intimidation (which the community has caused) of other females who visit the site and want to follow their progress.

While I agree that it would have been nice, I don't think it was an oversight. In addition to the link posted on how they found people, it's also a bit of a double-edged sword as women are less likely to apply for these types of things. This is their very first attempt; it's experimental. I'm sure when they have more faith in their product/the training, they can spend more time trying to find people from varying backgrounds to highlight.

Don't you know? Being pc is all the rage these days.

If you guys are curious to know how the team is created, check the job opening http://www.codelearn.org/blogger-who-wants-to-learn-to-code....

Only the third guy seems learning a new hability. If we were more rigorous, the path is a study comparing diverse online projects. I expect someone already done this.

What a great idea; a lot less intimidating than doing it on your own or one-on-one. Interested in seeing how this plays out.

I am excited to see how this go.Don't mean to pick side but I am rooting for the kid. I think he has a lot of potential.

This is pretty interesting to me as the thought process while learning is often lost in other online tutorial/courses.

Is `noob' considered acceptable terminology?

"Acceptable terminology"? What does that even mean? What would it mean to be "unacceptable terminology", short of being legally prohibited hate speech?

Are you asking if other HNers are offended by it? Are you asking if other HNers think you should be offended by it? Are you seeking support for a community censure of people who use that language? Are you asking if you can go around calling anyone with less experience a "noob", without context? Are you asking if you can, in some context, write marketing copy that contains the word "noob", and has a desireable outcome? (My answers are "no", "no", "no", "no", and "yes", in case one of those was your question.)

I feel like your question is fundamentally confused, and it's the sort of confusion that leads other people to make snarky comments about "being PC", which drags down useful conversations about healthy community standards. Maybe I'm the confused one, though, so please help me to understand.

I was merely wondering whether this word is OK to use. Do people think it rude and immature-sounding, or is it a simple term that passes without comment?

That's all!

"Rohit ... has been programming professionally for a decade" doesn't sound much like a "noob" to me

It used to be that "noob" was rude (referring to a new or incompetent person who is stupid and irritating) and "newb" was not (referring to a new person who should be treated kindly and helped along). Maybe the meanings are starting to blend together?

Always sounds rude to me, which was my main complaint. At least it's not used in the vocative. But it's also a somewhat childish term, being a contraction (phonetically spelled - and with a foreign accent!) of a term that's already seemingly a diminutive thanks to the "-ie" suffix. Is this the sort of thing that adults do? How old are the people that use it? Probably under 20, I suspect. If that. And immature, to boot.

Whatever happened to the word "beginner"? (EDIT: Ha! They changed it to "beginner", and I didn't notice until I'd posted this.)

I suppose I should finish this post with, "NOW GET OFF MY LAWN".

Maybe there was a time in your linguistic community when those words meant that. I suggest that this is not universal. I've seen lots of people in games use "newb" in a profanity-laden attack, and I've seen people people say things like "c'mon, don't grief the noobs, pick on someone your own size".

What's the difference between "geek" and "nerd"? Ask five language communities, get five different answers. Or ten answers, if you ask the same five language communities again two years later.

When you use slang in a new speech community, you need to expect that to your listener, it probably doesn't mean what you think it means, especially in fine nuance like you're claiming exists between "newb" and "noob" (or "n00b" or "newbie" or "nooby" or "noobie" or ...)

Maybe not universal, but certainly very common.


Uh. The relevant sentence of that WP article has, as its citation, a Forbes article about gamers. You take Forbes seriously, as an authority on gamer culture?

You were making it sound as though this were some niche thing that only happened in my particular social group. I was simply showing that this isn't the case. It's not as though there's likely to be peer-reviewed studies on this, but here's some more links, if you'd like:





Why are they learning an awful language like Ruby on Rails instead of an awesome language like Python?

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