I'm often asked my opinion as to the best way to learn a new programming language.
The answer to that question depends on many factors: Do you already know a programming language? How much time do you have to learn one? How do you learn best?
Are you one of those people who learn best in an instructor-led classroom environment? Can you read a good book or books on a programming language and learn that way? Can you benefit from an online learning experience, where you can take advantage of an instructor or mentor who can answer questions if and when you have them?
In this article, I'm going to examine the classroom environment, and in future weeks I'll be discussing self-learning and online learning.
As far as classroom instruction, one alternative is to take a Visual Basic course at a Microsoft Certified Technical Education Center (CTEC).
(For more information on Microsoft Certified Training, check out this web site: http://www.microsoft.com/train_cert/)
There are two main advantages to taking a course at a CTEC.
First, you are assured of taking a course developed by Microsoft and part of the Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC). MOC courses can only be taught by a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT), who must be certified in the subject matter he or she is teaching, and must demonstrate the instructional skills necessary to deliver the material. Secondly, these courses do a good job of preparing you to take the corresponding Microsoft Certification Exam in that subject.
However, there are also disadvantages to the CTEC alternative...
First, the courses are expensive. For instance, you can expect to pay approximately $2000 for a week long Visual Basic course. Secondly, the courses are geared toward computer professionals---so if you are a raw beginner, the material is likely to be over your head. Finally, the courses themselves are very intense, even for someone who has a programming background. For a Visual Basic course, you can expect to be in the classroom 7 hours per day for a solid week---and that can make learning difficult.
Next time -- classroom alternatives to the CTEC...
Written by John Smiley, MCP, MCSD and MCT, is an adjunct professor of Computer Science at Penn State University in Abington, Philadelphia University, and Holy Family College, and has been teaching computer programming for nearly 20 years. He also teaches a number of very popular online courses at SmartPlanet and ElementK. In addition, John is the author of four very popular Visual Basic books, and is reportedly the first guest to write a computer program live on ZDTV's Screen Saver's show.
John Smiley is president of Smiley and Associates, http://www.johnsmiley.com/smass/smass.htm a computer consulting firm located in New Jersey.
This was first published in July 2000