Teaching (mostly) PHP

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The presentation was an insightful look into the topics Clinton's students are taught and the methods for teaching but I would recommend trying to borrow more from community created frameworks (even if the learning curve is slightly more challenging), purely on the grounds that there is less of a dis-jointedness between the World of Academia and Enterprise. In my opinion, there's nothing more self-defeating than the feeling of finishing Uni with a great result and struggling to get a job based on experience and exposure to leading software / applications.

If I am brutally honest, I also misunderstood the subject of the presentation prior to entering as I thought that Clinton would be teaching his audience some intricacies of php rather than reviewing his chosen methods of teaching - but this is probably just me being stupid rather than a reflection on the presenter :)

I'm split.

On one hand, I fully understand the difficulty faced by instructors and tutors who have to accomodate a range of students from those with a programming background, to those who don't even know what a variable is. It can't be easy.

On the other hand, I can't help but feel that the students would benefit more if they were taught techniques and concepts, more closely resembling those used in industry. The talk very much reminded me of my days in university and the kind of teaching that myself and my peers received as students; I had prior programming experience, many did not. I recognised that much of what we were being taught was not useful in the real world and knew that many would leave university without the knowledge required to hit the ground running in industry.

With those worries aside, I still felt the talk was presented well and Clinton was open and honest about the reasons for teaching the material he was teaching. He also openly asked for feedback and collaboration to improve the course material, and for that, I think he deserves to be recognised as a good tutor.

I enjoyed the talk and Clinton's approach to how it was presented. His code examples caused some controversy and from the talk's perspective it may have been better if he ended the discussion and continued the presentation, but he was making valid attempts to answer criticism. It was interesting to see the ever present disconnect between business and academia but I saw logic in most of his teaching decisions and he was clearly interested in bringing modern technology to his students, something which should be appreciated.

The talk was delivered well, Clinton is a good speaker who communicated with authority and confidence, and he dealt with the numerous questions well, without letting the presentation slip.

There were plenty of controversial moments, and as others have said, while I agree that due to the diverse backgrounds of the students it's difficult to use some of the more advanced techniques of modern PHP development, ultimately I think the students are being short-changed by being taught to use techniques like the Singleton and Registry patterns at the expense of better ones like Dependency Injection. These alternate patterns aren't a 'house style' of software houses - they're standards which improve code and application quality, and are relevant to anyone learning software development today.

Rated 5

Anonymous at 18:12 on 10 Oct 2011

Like the other people mentioned, this was a controversial talk.
Academia vs professional/'real-world'. Whilst I agree there is a very different need in academia to teach people to think about things themselves, it doesn't prepare people for the actualities of the real-world. But in a short module, is it better to teach a wide range of things 'poorly', or a few things 'perfectly'. Certainly food for thought, thank you :)

Interesting presentation on what is currently being taught in at De Montfort Uni these days. I have to disagree with some of the comments about not preparing students for life in the real world ... I think the material being taught will serve as a good basis that can easily be extended on when students do move into the real world.

Would have liked to see a bit about Dependency Injection and Inversion of Control but I suppose these could be quite difficult to teach to those unfamiliar with patterns and best practice concepts.

Even understanding the difficulties to teach certain concepts to who is unfamiliar with programming and software development I think that some of it's decision should be revised.
PHP is such a particular programming language, so free and easy to pick up with by its DNA that simplify too much "in the wrong way" might be fatal.
Development solutions might end being a habit that hardly those person will lose in the future so we should try to enforce at least few simple best practices constraints. However in general I found the talk very interesting especially because it's been mainly based on Clinton's need of sharing his experience searching for others ideas too, in other words 100% open source style, my ideas for your ideas.