Thursday, August 13, 2009

Teaching IronPython: D520 weeks 2 & 3

Tony Andrew Meyer has now been teaching course D520 ("Programming") at Northtec, using IronPython in Action as course material, for three weeks now.

He's been writing up how its going and posting the course notes online (week one described here), and weeks two and three are now up:
Here’s my material from the second week of “D520: Programming” (in IronPython). The students got some brief notes [PDF] and the first proper lab exercise [PDF]. The recommended reading this week was a post by Lukas Mathis about poor hardware design (and lessons to be learnt), and a post by Wil Shipley about tracking down a Delicious Library bug. The notes are again in four sections: textbook chapters (this week chapter 3, which is fairly essential reading), tools (same as last week, although I also recommended IronPython 2.6b2), key points, and example code (from chapter 3 of the textbook).
When planning the semester’s schedule for D520, I choose a few topics that seemed large and gave them a two-week time-slot. One of these was chapter 4 of IronPython in Action, which covers duck typing, design patterns, and introduces the MultiDoc example that’s used throughout the middle section of the book. One of the concepts that the course has always (at least, as long as I have known it) tried to push is the importance of design – not just user-interface design (although that’s both important and covered), but the importance of doing at least some planning before starting to write large amounts of code. In the last couple of years, I’ve moved the course away from focusing on extensive formal design to also cover design patterns and testing (particularly automated testing, like unit tests). Since this is such a major issue for the course, and since I planned on using MultiDoc as an example in class (I try to always have an example that continues on from week to week), this seemed like an obvious point for a two-week session.

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