Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A student's perspective on Java

From some time I have been very keen to publish a post that describes a student's perspective on Java. Over the years Java has gone from a simple easy to learn language to quite a huge beast. The volume of things one has to learn and keep up in Java poses a special challenge to students who wih to learn the language.

I would like to post experiences of how various students coped with the challenge of learning Java.

In this post, Sanket Daru, a student in one of my Java classes at SCIT describes his experience with Java. I am particularly glad to post Sanket's thoughts, since he is one of the brightest and most enthusiastic students, that I have had the pleasure of teaching.

Q. How did you go about learning Java?

A. It all began in 2003 during my graduation. We had Java in our curriculum. I attended the Java faculty’s first and second lecture and knew that “maybe he is a genius, but he knows nothing about the heads or tails of teaching.” Convinced and determined never to attend his class again, I went straight to the book-shop, opposite to my college, and grabbed a copy of “Java 2 the Complete Reference” by Herbert Schildt.

I spent the rest of the semester studying the entire book cover-to-cover not to mention, spending nights at stretch working hard to get my hands-on right and accurate. I used to do a lot of stupid things with Java, by creating dumb applications, but all that gave me good experience and insight into the Java language, its working and above all made me confident that I can develop applications using Java.

After this, we got a really nice faculty for advanced Java and that faculty provided me the much needed guidance that I missed during the days I started programming in Java.

Q. What parts did you have a hard time understanding and how you overcame the difficulties?

A. Collection classes took some time and effort to be understood… I kept on using different collection classes in my dumb applications thereby figuring out each one’s unique working. It’s only through trial and error that one can get the basics straight. For advanced understanding, referring to books and the internet is the best way to progress.

Also, using advanced frameworks presented its unique challenges to me and till date I am facing some or the other difficulties using some or the other new feature of Java. Today, I rely on the WWW for guidance. I refer to a lot of material that’s available online whenever I hit a road-block. If all fails, I post to the group to get answers from someone who has been there and done that. It helps, the community based learning!

Till date, multi-threading is something that sends shivers down my spine! I know the basics and have done quite a good work on it but still I am never sure that my multi-threaded application will give me the desired result or not!

Q. What are the most common mistakes that students often make?

A. The biggest mistake that I have seen amongst my peers, is that they just read a really good book on Java (or any language for that matter) but never voluntarily venture out to get their hands-on correct. Bookish knowledge gets them the much needed marks/grades but makes them dumb programmers. They know about all the various “fancy” features the language has to offer without knowing even how to get the very “basics” working!

People who do venture out to get their hands-on correct, get easily dis-heartened when they hit a road-block. One must remember that failures are stepping stones to success and that as long as you don’t fall, you will never know how higher you can go. The internet is rich with resources and everything is served on a platter these days by Google.

Q. Anything else that you think may help the students?

A. Always remember that you need a good guide (a teacher) who can help you get your basics straight but if you don’t get one, don’t worry. Be your own guide and venture out into the world of Java on your own. It isn’t that scary. It’s very important to remember that you will learn Java if-and-only-if you venture out into Java world on your own. Hitting road-blocks is a boon, it only helps you in knowing a lot more, and things that you never knew exist are uncovered only when you hit a road-block.

Note: This text was originally posted on my earlier blog at http://www.adaptivelearningonline.net
Here are the comments from the original post

-----
COMMENT:
AUTHOR: Tarun Chandel
URL: www.tarunchandel.blogspot.com
DATE: 09/05/2007 01:08:33 PM
Sanket has given some really good points and his experience on learning Java can be applied to most of the things in life, whether it's technology or any other thing. The one point I really like is that never let a bad teacher affect your enthusiasm for learning.

I think very few lucky people get really good teachers. I am one of those lucky few to have you as a teacher. On the teacher's day I would like to thank you for making a difference in my and many other's life just by being there in front of the class.

Wishing you a very happy Teacher's Day!
-----
COMMENT:
AUTHOR: Parag
DATE: 09/06/2007 09:04:19 AM
Hi Tarun,

Thank you for the kind words and good wishes.

Good luck for everything :-)

--
Regards
Parag

No comments: