When I first returned to school, I started off with a introduction to programming concepts. I took an Alice class and a Python class while relearning most of my high school mathematics, and then spent a year in introductory Java programming hell, learning the basic concepts while attempting to also learn enough about Eclipse, the open source programming tool, to effectively steer it without crashing it. I’m learning programming in my forties, and much to my chagrin, I can’t just “soak up the knowledge” the way I used to twenty years ago. It’s work and I have to learn deliberately, using structured memorization techniques, acronyms and physical rehearsal to remember key programming structures & concepts. The thing that I need to learn the most also scares me the most; I’m not always sure that the time and effort I’m spending on this is going to be worth it.
As a mature student, you have obligations outside the classroom and these can easily interfere with spending the time you need to really pound concepts into your head. I find that I am also constantly wondering about where I’m going to use this – I really want to see how all this is used in the real world.
This is where I have a problem with the way that programming is taught at UAB – there isn’t enough connecting what we are learning to the places (and frameworks) where we’ll be able to use it.