Using social media is exciting but what about learning how to program your very own web applications?
How about those 10 year olds who read about using IM (instant messaging) and rejecting email as bring for ‘oldies’? Could it be possible for those same 10 year olds to be writing their very own instant messaging application?
A while ago I sent around the Try Ruby! interactive tutorial to my team to introduce them to the basics of Ruby. Most of us had grown up around Commodore 64s and had learnt the very basics (using BASIC and perhaps machine code a little later) when we were youngsters and the Ruby tutorial had a lot of that kind of playful unbreakable (but hackable) vibe to it.
Now there is a lovely little downloadable package called Hackety Hack put together by a sensible person with a little time on their hands, which takes this idea further and is a combined programming environment and web browser.
The seven part introductory tutorial nails the very things that youngsters want to learn to do, and do quickly – automating the downloading of MP3s and YouTube videos, building a blog, even your own instant messaging/chat tool – all quickly and logically.
The lovely thing about this is that whilst building these applications – which actually do work out in the ‘real’ world – you are also learning the basics of Ruby.
Now to start using this in classes in one of our media labs . . .