Monday, March 15, 2010

Instructor Critique - Javascript Primers and Learning Materials at HTML Goodies

I have chosen to critique the Javascript Primers and other learning materials at HTML

I first became familiar with the site during the 1990s when I first began working with HTML tagging.  It offered a great deal of help with the key tags and codes used to create web pages with HTML.  Because of that familiarity, I explored the site in its current iteration to see if it could help me learn Javascript the way it had helped previously with HTML.  I was pleased to see that the site did offer the tutorials that could help with this attempt to better understand the scripting I needed for my web site.

The site actually offers three different layers of instruction.  The oldest are the primers written by Joe Burns.  They originated in the 1990s and integrate some HTML commands that have been deprecated within the scripts.  Dr. Burns writes in a concise style and anticipates many of the questions one might have.  The primers really are written for those just beginning their quest to learn and understand JavaScript.  I like the examples used and the way the different primers are organized.  Each primer is organized as:

  1. The Concept - which explains the specific purpose of the primer and what it will teach
  2. The Script - Displays the javascript text that will be entered by the learner as an example
  3. The Script's Effect - Demonstrates what the script will do when it executes
  4. Deconstructing the Script - Explains the organization of the script, what the various words and actions within the script mean, how the script may be used, and why it is constructed in the way it is.
  5. What You've Learned - Reviews the basic learning objectives for the primer and how we demonstrated those objectives.
  6. Your Assignment - An assignment designed by Dr. Burns where the learner demonstrates understaing of the learning objectives
The structure creates an effective learning environment and the instructions and explanations are helpful.  I also found some of the comment sections at the end of the primers to be helpful.  These primers were effective in helping me learn some javascript basics.

The site also includes a series of javascript basics (written by Mark Kahn) and a series of javascript diaries (written by Lee Underwood).  Both of these tutorials are more recent than the primers and incorporate changes in HTML.  They offer opportunities to practice and reviews of learning objectives, but are not as well organized as the primers.

There are some things about these tutorials that I found lacking or wish they were changed in some way.  The w3schools tutorial includes a function that allows you to play with the code and see the results while in the tutorial.  a function like that would be helpful in the different lessons, particularly where the assignments are given.

Another major weakness is being able to identify where specific functions and processes are covered within the various units.  If there was an index or search function that would allow you to re-visit lessons based on the need to review a certain function or element of javascript that would assist in reviewing when you encounter a need but cannot remember the specifics.

Overall I think the tutorials helped me understand the javascript and helped as I used javascript for my electricity website assessments.

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