6 Second JavaScript Lessons

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D-503
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6 Second JavaScript Lessons

Postby D-503 » Wed May 15, 2013 4:06 am UTC

I've been experimenting with using Vine to teach JavaScript. I'm hoping some of you xkcd forum-goers can provide me with feedback on my tutorials. For those of you unfamiliar with Vine, it's a project from Twitter where instead of writing messages with a 140 character limit, you record videos with a 6 second time limit. So, it shouldn't take long to have to look, I have less than a minute of footage overall, but it is a very dense part of a minute that took me days to develop. I'm especially interested in what those of you who are aren't already familiar with the material have to say. Here are the links:
http://seenive.com/v/927801415211036672
https://vine.co/v/bjJITm06FtQ
https://vine.co/v/bjjijVnqQIQ
https://vine.co/v/bjEld7MZr2q
https://vine.co/v/bIlpq7amU0t
https://vine.co/v/bxO5jll5JWq
https://vine.co/v/b2zElpeEqBu
https://vine.co/v/b2aZEMFrB1T
https://vine.co/v/b0rjM0nHmTb

Unless everyone hates them, there will be more to come here:
https://twitter.com/6secondjs

Thanks in advance!

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Dopefish
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Re: 6 Second JavaScript Lessons

Postby Dopefish » Wed May 15, 2013 4:38 am UTC

Is there no way to pause? :shock:

I don't know Javascript, but I have some coding experience so maybe armed with the ability to pause I might be able to glean some information out of those 6 second clips (that is to say, basic syntax and maybe what functions are built-in), but currently by the time I figure out what the important piece of information is from a given frame, it's already advanced to the next.

This 6 second vine notion of learning anything seems rather impractical, although maybe they work for some people - I haven't heard of them before now. In particular things that inherently require reading something (in this case, code) it seems like a lost cause though unless one is able to pause, but perhaps that's considered 'cheating'.

D-503
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Re: 6 Second JavaScript Lessons

Postby D-503 » Thu May 16, 2013 2:18 am UTC

You can pause by clicking on the videos.

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Dopefish
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Re: 6 Second JavaScript Lessons

Postby Dopefish » Thu May 16, 2013 2:26 am UTC

D-503 wrote:You can pause by clicking on the videos.


Hum. Doesn't seem to work for me in firefox at least.

EvanED
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Re: 6 Second JavaScript Lessons

Postby EvanED » Thu May 16, 2013 4:35 am UTC

So to be honest, and I feel a bit like a dick for saying this especially because I find the idea of really short mini-segments a little intriguing, but I really don't like them. I'm assuming your audience is people who know programming and not JS, otherwise things get even worse.

What does the video format offer that is good verses just a textual transcript of what was typed? Because there are a lot of drawbacks:
  • Awful video quality (low resolution, skewed, shaking). There are parts that I literally can't read after watching several times (then again, I can't pause; see below). It'd be way way way better with screen capture software, though I'm still not convinced that's enough to get over the other problems.
  • Need to pause to see anything, especially due to how fast it cuts
  • No copy and paste (okay, this can be viewed as a small plus too)
  • More dependencies to work or not work (for instance, Vine doesn't work on Chrome on Linux for me, and Firefox on Linux doesn't let me pause, so it would be way way more effort to follow your tutorials than it would be for me to type "javascript tutorial" into Google and get something that actually works)
  • You lose setup information. Suppose I want to take the example you're showing in https://vine.co/v/b2zElpeEqBu. I could be wrong, but I don't think you give enough information to say how to do that, as you don't show whatever is actually displaying the boxes.
I guess you get audio, but you could just write what you say if you were to type things out.

Dr. Willpower
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Re: 6 Second JavaScript Lessons

Postby Dr. Willpower » Fri May 17, 2013 9:30 pm UTC

It seems to me that the videos are somewhat hurried. I had to watch them several times to completely understand what was going on, and I use JavaScript on a semi-regular basis. If I already have to watch the video five times to learn your lesson, why not just look up a thirty second video and watch it once?

Six second lessons are quite an ambitious goal, and I commend you.
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D-503
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Re: 6 Second JavaScript Lessons

Postby D-503 » Sat May 18, 2013 3:52 am UTC

EvanED wrote:What does the video format offer that is good verses just a textual transcript of what was typed?

Novelty maybe?
I'm not sure if the goal should be to teach the details of programming, that might be something you can only learn by thought and participation. What I find compelling about vine is the way it gives you a brief glimpse through a window into someone's life. I want to find a way to do something like that for coding.

What concerns me most about your feedback is this comment:
I'm assuming your audience is people who know programming and not JS, otherwise things get even worse.

I want to make something that is accessible to the widest audience possible. So I'd really like to know what issues you saw for people unfamiliar with programming.

Dr. Willpower wrote:It seems to me that the videos are somewhat hurried. I had to watch them several times to completely understand what was going on, and I use JavaScript on a semi-regular basis. If I already have to watch the video five times to learn your lesson, why not just look up a thirty second video and watch it once?


Timing is something I've wondered about a lot. I could potentially break some of the lessons up into more videos, but I thought the videos might be more interesting to watch if they were rushed and packed with as much information as possible. The feedback so far seems to indicate otherwise.

The large blocks of code might be a distraction. I want to move more towards what I did in the JSON lesson where I focus on a few characters at a time, but certain things like drawing a bar-chart seem difficult to express is that manner.

Thanks everyone!

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Dason
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Re: 6 Second JavaScript Lessons

Postby Dason » Sat May 18, 2013 6:20 pm UTC

D-503 wrote:The large blocks of code might be a distraction. I want to move more towards what I did in the JSON lesson where I focus on a few characters at a time, but certain things like drawing a bar-chart seem difficult to express is that manner.


What exactly were you trying to convey in the JSON lesson? Some of the videos I could at least see what you were trying to teach in the lesson. The JSON video just had me going 'wtf was that'. You said you focus on a few characters at a time but it just seemed to me to be a bunch of characters at the beginning with no explanation why you were showing them then a clusterfuck of a large amount of text that is impossible to read the first time through.

I appreciate your attempt but I really don't think it's a good format for lessons - at least the way they are presented in the original post.

Some constructive feedback: Don't change zoom levels during the video. In the first video I might have realized what was going on a little sooner if the zoom didn't keep changing and it wasn't so shaky. But the zooming changed where things were in relation to my eyes - if it was just essentially a screen capture (or a cropped screen capture) that would probably be better - it would get rid of the shaking and hopefully reduce the confusion caused by the changes in zoom level.
double epsilon = -.0000001;

D-503
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Re: 6 Second JavaScript Lessons

Postby D-503 » Sun May 19, 2013 12:30 am UTC

Dason wrote:What exactly were you trying to convey in the JSON lesson?

What json is made of and that it can be serialized

nitePhyyre
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Re: 6 Second JavaScript Lessons

Postby nitePhyyre » Mon May 27, 2013 9:06 pm UTC

Yeah, vine doesn't seem to be a very good way to do coding tutorials. Then again, i don't think vine seems very good for anything, so there's that.

Constructive criticism: Considering you have to pause to read the code you should say what you are showing then put it on screen. The workflow should go like this:
1) You give the description of the code
2) I know what I'm looking for
3) You display it
4) I pause it then read/digest/understand the code
5) >repeat<

Currently, the way you have it is:
1) You show the code
2) I look at the code, have no idea what it is for
3) You tell me what the code is for
4) I try and fail to pause after the code and its description
5) I have no idea what is going on
6) >repeat<

or if it is earlier in the day and I still have brain power left:
1) I pause it read the code, have no idea why the code is there
2) I listen to the description
3) The screen changes
4) I pause it while trying put the code in context with its description (without looking at the code because it isn't on screen anymore)
5) >repeat<
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