This is a continuation of my previous article, in which I answered the question, how to learn a new programming language. In that article, I stated that 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?
Last time, I described CTEC's (Certified Technical Education Centers), and pointed out these may not be everyone--in fact, they may be a good choice if you already know the programming language you are there to learn!
Are there other alternatives?
Yes, there are plenty.
For instance, there are computer schools that, with programs of varying lengths, turn out graduates that are employable to some degree or other. In my area, schools such as the Computer Learning Center and the Chubb Institute have programs that range from 3 months to a year and teach a variety of programming languages and PC skills. The advantage of a program like this is that you are spending a lot of quality time learning the language. When you are finished, you know it well. The disadvantages are time and cost. You might spend 3 full months, 8 hours or so per day, 5 days per week, learning the language. If you are already employed, this is not a viable alternative, although most of these schools do offer evening hours. Another disadvantage is cost--- these schools are not cheap.
A quicker, cheaper alternative is the Professional Development or Certificate programs that a number of Colleges and Universities are now offering. I teach in such a program myself, and I think they're ideal. For instance, my Visual Basic course meets one time per week, 3 hours per session, for 10 weeks. The amount of classroom time is just about the same as a CTEC, but spaced out more. This permits the students to learn more on their own, spending time in between meetings reading the textbook (and it's an excellent one), doing exercises, and working on a class project.
This one time per week session is less encompassing than a Computer School--but it's also cheaper, and is a good choice for those already employed.
Please see 'Learning Visual Basic -- Part 1' posted on searchvb.com: http://searchVB.techtarget.com/tip/0,,sid8_gci282348,00.html
Next time -- Online learning alternatives
Written by John Smiley, MCP, MCSD and MCT, author, and adjunct professor of Computer Science at Penn State University in Abington, Philadelphia University, and Holy Family College. John has been teaching computer programming for nearly 20 years.
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