Additional profile information on Alfred Thompson at Google+
One of the questions I get all the time is “I have a student/child/nephew/daughter/etc who wants to learn programming on their own. Where should they go?” My answer is always the Beginner Developer Learning Center and from there to the Kid’s Corner. I may also recommend Popfly as a starting place because it is so much fun. But if they are interested in more than mashups and games, which many of them are, the Kid’s Corner is the place to start. Well this week the Kid’s Corner went though a complete re-design and re-launch and it is better than ever.
The same great resources that were there before are still there but there are some great new ones as well. One of them that I particularly love is a new video on classes and objects. This video is 10 minutes long and features a bunch of kids explaining objects, classes, inheritance, and more using themselves and cardboard boxes as examples. The language is suitable for students as young as middle school without losing the important parts of the concepts. It may be the best 10 minute explanation of objects and classes I have ever seen.
There is also a seven minute explanation of what the Internet is and how it works. This is also suitable for younger students. I can see it being used by a lot of computer literacy classes. I’m sending a link to it to my 83 year old father too.
Everything at the new version of the site is rated Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced to help people select where they should start. So for home schoolers, after school programs, individuals who want to learn on their own or even teachers looking for supplemental resources this is a great place to start. Of course teachers will also want to make sure they check out the resources at the Pre-Collegiate Faculty Connection site as well.
Note: Edited to correct a link.
Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) has one of the best game development programs in the US if not the world. Recently the team there put together a document that explains some of there key learnings setting up a development lab for teaching with XNA Game Studio Express. This whitepaper includes set-up information, sample scripts, network ports that need to be opened, hardware information, version information and lots of other good stuff. If you are thinking about setting up a lab for XNA this is the gold standard. Even if you didn’t do it all this is a helpful paper.
This white paper (its about 28 pages long )has been loaded to the Academic Resource Center. Here is a link to it - http://www.academicresourcecenter.net/curriculum/pfv.aspx?ID=7459.
Recently Clint Rutkas and I has some fun discussing which was better between C# and Visual Basic .NET. Truth be known I’m perfectly happy using C# even though my first instinct is to use VB .NET. I do believe that VB .NET is better as a first language but that is because that is personal preference more than anything else. But no matter which language one learns first I think it is very useful to learn both. VB .NET is widely used for programming with business logic and user interface programming. C# is used for other stuff. Probably some serious stuff but definitely XNA GSE game programming. :-) One useful tool I found was this list of VB .NET and C# language constructs shown side by side. (hat tip to Go To 100 – Development with Visual Basic)
Note that there are some of the newest .NET features missing from that list but for a lot of beginners it will be very useful.
BTW Clint and my earlier posts on this subject can be found at: