KillerPHP Blog

Classroom Stats

StudioWeb 4 is Live and is Packed with New Features.

November 30, 2018
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The newly released StudioWeb 4 has many new features teachers have been asking for. Here are some highlights:
  • New certifications: HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, Python.
  • Teachers can reset student progress on the chapter, lesson and even question.
  • Teachers can now allow students to skip chapters they don’t want students to do.
  • Teachers can set whether students can update their profiles: name, password.
  • Teachers can assign / revoke courses on a per student basis.
  • StudioWeb now provides district and school level performance reporting. All classroom statistics can be monitored on a single page.
  • Videos are now streamed from multiple sources.
  • We now provide closed captioning (CC) on all our videos.
  • StudioWeb 4 tracks the average time it takes each student to answer questions, and compares it to the classroom average.
  • Class leading reporting and sorting for grades and other assessments.
  • Massive performance increase, since StudioWeb 4 is a total rewrite from scratch, using the latest tech.
If you would like to demo StudioWeb 4, please feel free to contact us.
Thanks,
Stefan Mischook

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Python Course for Middle School

February 6, 2017

I am happy to announce that we will be releasing a new course for schools: Powerful Python 3. Part of our collection of coding courses, designed specially for classroom learning.

Powerful Python 3 is designed for students (and teachers) who are totally new to code! The course is made up of easy to follow video lessons, followed by fun and effective quizzing and code challenges.

… Like all StudioWeb courses, we provide a complete curriculum that includes projects, a grading rubric and our powerful auto-grading system that provides accurate grades by course, chapter and lesson.

StudioWeb’s Python course will finally make learning and teaching Python, easy for the novice coder.

Please feel to contact us if you have any questions!

Stefan Mischook
StudioWeb.com

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How Does StudioWeb Align with the Nine Themes of Digital Citizenship?

January 26, 2016

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Digital citizenship can be defined as the norms of appropriate, responsible behaviour with regard to technology use.

How does StudioWeb fit in?

Of the Digital Citizenship themes, Studioweb would fall under Digital Literacy.

With the StudioWeb curriculum, students learn much more than just how to code- they learn how the web, itself, works. For example:

  • Students learn about home computers vs. server computers.
  • Students learn about the different apps used in web design and development.
  • They learn the relationships and roles of the computer languages used to build websites and web apps.

… And much more.

You can learn more about the 9 Themes of Digital Citizenship here.

Stef
Studioweb.com

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StudioWeb’s Automatic Grading

January 23, 2016

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For 2016, we’ve expanded StudioWeb’s automatic grading to include:

  • Grades by course
  • Grades by chapter
  • Grades by lesson

… All the detail you need to manage the classroom. This is in addition to our trending grade that keeps a running total of student performance.

The grades are generated from tracking student interaction with the course material. In fact, we use a few data points, and that provides very accurate assessments.

Happy New Year!

Stefan
Studioweb.com

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Why Teach Code with PHP, and not Python?

February 15, 2015

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UPDATE: In 2016, if I had to choose only one programming language to teach, it would be JavaScript. That said, PHP is still a great option, but I would teach it after JavaScript. I recently wrote about why JavaScript is now my first choice.


Back to the original article:

These days, Python and Ruby are popular programming languages with the tech startup crowd, and so, many of the venture capital backed ‘teach code’ startups, have ruby or python courses targeted at kids.

The problem is that these are not the best languages to teach programming with- especially with people who are new to programming. So, why is PHP better?

1. PHP is easier to learn:

Python and Ruby are object-oriented languages at their core, so to do anything with the languages, you really have to understand object-oriented theory and principles. This adds an unnecessary level of complexity to new learners.

Yes, modern software development is largely object-oriented, but my 10+ years experience in teaching web development has taught me that it is better to teach basic programming concepts and techniques before adding the OOP (object-oriented programming) layer.

PHP has both an object-oriented layer and a much less complex layer that is ideal for teaching programming to new learners- especially younger students.

2. With PHP, it’s easier do real things.

With PHP, because it was designed specifically for the web, you can create web apps fairly quickly. On top of that, getting PHP apps live is also trivial- just upload the files to a PHP enabled server, and you are done. Try that with Ruby or Python!

Ruby and Python were not designed with web apps in mind. They were put together more as general purpose languages and have been adapted for the web. Yes, they are both excellent languages, but there is that additional layer of complexity when it comes time to actually creating a web app and going live.

These days, if you are creating apps, they are most likely web apps! So this is relevant.

3. PHP is BY FAR the most used web development language – it’s not even close!

If you are looking to put practical skills into your students’ hands, then PHP is easily the best choice. Check out this simple stat: over 80% of dynamic websites, that is to say, websites that are also web apps, are created with PHP. Ruby and Python together may add up to 7%.

In fact, what I hear from new programmers time and time again (after they learn Python or Ruby) is they discover that they have to learn PHP, since there are so many more jobs in the PHP world.

Consider this next stat: WordPress runs about 23% of the world’s websites!! Add in Joomla and Drupal (two other popular CMS’) and we are probably close to 30% of the world’s websites being run by 3 web apps created with… PHP!

…There is no equivalent in the Ruby or Python world.

The point here is that there is a huge ecosystem in PHP that no other language comes close to. When selecting technologies, we all know from the Apple Appstore, that the ecosystem is hugely important. It’s a big reason why iPhone is so successful.

Conclusion

It seems clear that if you want to teach kids (adults too!) more easily and you want them to be able to easily see their code actually do something real, PHP is the obvious choice.

Add in the market viability of the language and the growing probability that Ruby will slowly fall into a micro niche (it’s already niche IMHO), then there is really no argument. You can see why StudioWeb teaches programming with PHP.

Final note:

I chose to teach programming with PHP in 2004, NOT because I was a PHP programmer zealot. I’ve written software in 8 or so languages, I am language agnostic. In fact, my favourite language for years was Java… I’ve written more lines of Java code than any other language.

No, I still chose PHP to teach programming because it was the best choice.

I hope you find this helpful.

Stefan Mischook

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StudioWeb Used in STEM Education Programs in Northeastern United States

July 11, 2014

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Hi!

I am happy to announce that StudioWeb is now being used as part of STEM education programs in the northeastern US.

StudioWeb (that’s us!) continues to work with K12, community colleges, cultural centers and vocational schools to provide an easy-to-understand curriculum in modern web design and programming.

Our courses are effective because experienced teachers designed them– not 20yr software developers.

Over the last two years, the StudioWeb team has worked in the field with teachers and thousands of students to continue to refine StudioWeb’s features and courses.

If you are interested in a turn-key interactive training system for web design and programming, please feel free to check out Studioweb.com.

Thanks!

Stefan Mischook

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Top 10 Web Development Teaching Tips!

May 14, 2014

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Between my ten years of teaching web development, and feedback from teachers using StudioWeb over the last year, I have put together this list of teaching tips that you might find useful in your classroom.

  1. Start with an easy language: 
Don’t use hard to understand languages like Java, C#, C++ to teach beginners programming! Stick to simpler languages like JavaScript, PHP or Python. Once your students have a grasp of basic programming concepts, then you can move onto the more complex languages.
  2. Don’t teach A to Z: Teaching people to code has a lot more to do about leaving out the non essential elements of a language. Don’t cover every nuanced aspect of the HTML link tag, don’t cover all the ways a method can be created in JavaScript… leave out the less often used aspects of a language and save it for later. Just expose your students to the key aspects of the language, just enough so they can move forward.
  3. Show your mistakes: I leave in mistakes (and make a few on purpose) so that students can see that making mistakes and writing code is normal. In fact, I have heard countless times from students that seeing me make mistakes made them feel more relaxed.
  4. Get to the coding:
 Get your students writing simple code as soon as possible- that is the best way to learn. I was once a theoretical master of JavaScript, where after having read a few books on the language, I could tell you everything you needed to know… but when I finally tried to write code, I immediately discovered all my theoretical knowledge was almost worthless in the real world!
  5. Break code:
 Encourage students to break their code once they’ve got it working. Seeing how a language reacts to broken code is part of the process of learning to code. Creating errors in code is very educational and soon enough, your students will start to better understand the errors.
  6. Use the tools of coding- code editors and browser developer tools: Too often, code training courses try to hide the actual apps coders use from students.
  7. Use analogies: People love analogies! One of my classic analogies is to compare different classes of languages to different classes of automobiles to answer a simple question: why are there so many programming languages out there?
  8. Small Bytes:
 Keep your learning segments small! We live in the YouTube generation where 6 minutes is a long, long time to focus on one subject- especially for teens! For courses created in 2014, I try to keep my videos under 4 minutes … targeting 2-3 minutes. Yes, I misspelled bites on purpose!
  9. Save time:
 Use the flipped classroom teaching method. Why teach the same basic concepts over and over again when you could be spending your time helping individual students or creating more interesting projects for your classes to work on.
  10. The big picture brings clarity:
 Give students context with regards to the particular language or technology you are teaching. So for example, show them how PHP fits into the web development stack… how does PHP relate to JavaScript, HTML and CSS?

I hope you find these tips useful. Thanks for reading,

Stefan Mischook

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Preparing Students for Careers in Web Design and Web Programming

April 9, 2014

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What are the three most important things you can provide for your students so that they are better prepared for the marketplace?

Teach Them Modern Skills

Web design today is much less about Dreamweaver and Photoshop and more about code and programming. Forget about Flash!!

Steve jobs pretty much killed Flash!

Coding Kids To Success

Yes, web designers today must know code (HTML, CSS) and they must know at least some basic programming- the two most popular languages being JavaScript and PHP.

Many of the modern web design packages and libraries that web designers must know today (Bootstrap, jQuery, WordPress etc) require an understanding of code to be used effectively.

The days where you only need to know Dreamweaver & Photoshop to get a good job are quickly leaving us… if they haven’t gone already!

The demand, going forward, is for coders and people who have a better structural knowledge of web sites.

Strong Portfolios

80% of jobs are created by small businesses… and web design and programming is no exception.

If your students are going to get a job in the field at some point, it will likely be with a small firm. I can tell you from experience, that small companies looking to hire (full time or contractors) rarely look for diplomas.

Instead, they want a proven track record from potential hires, and so it’s important that students start building up a portfolio of projects that they can demonstrate.

The other advantage of project-based learning is that it is really the best way to begin to learn. When I was into boxing, my coach used to say that 3 rounds of sparring was worth more than 3 months of hitting pads in class.

The same goes for learning web design and programming- get students writing code and building sites! That’s why in StudioWeb, we are constantly teaching with mini projects, and several of our courses are actually project-based from the start.

Thanks for reading,

Stefan Mischook

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How to Effectively Teach Web Design and Programming in the Classroom

April 4, 2014

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I’ve been teaching web design and programming for over 10 years. Yet working with teachers using StudioWeb over the last two years has not only improved StudioWeb, but has opened my eyes to things I had not considered.

You live and you learn!

My top 3 web design and programming teaching tips for the classroom:

Boring is bad: Students have to be kept interested; any teacher knows this. So how do you spice up a web design class? Keep video segments short- 20 minute videos will put most students to sleep. So for August 2014, StudioWeb’s new beginners courses will have an average video length of 2-3 minutes.
Have students build real things: Just teaching code that solves math equations isn’t going to excite too many students. With StudioWeb, we get into real-world mini projects as soon as we can. This way, students come away being able to create things that people actually need in the real world!
Good content: At the end of the day, a fancy LMS and special effects will not replace good teaching.

The problem with so many video courses out there today is that they don’t have much teaching value even though they may have a lot of production value.

StudioWeb’s courses are created by experienced and respected teachers. We rely on great teaching and NOT on green-screen effects and talking frog puppets making bad jokes.

Thanks for reading,

Stefan Mischook

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How To Use StudioWeb In The Classroom

March 30, 2014

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Let’s start with a common question I get from teachers: “Is each course (in StudioWeb) considered separate, or are they all incorporated as one?“

Answer: Courses can be used separately, but the list of courses are set in a specific order in terms of student progression. We are building the student’s skill set.

You’ll notice that we have foundation courses and project courses. We assume that the student will do the foundation courses first and then move onto the project courses.

The order of the courses/subjects (1.HTML, 2.CSS, 3.JavaScript, 4.PHP etc) comes from our experience from teaching web design and programming for over 10yrs. Nothing is set in stone but it has worked for us.

Total course time

The total length of time all of our courses is approximately 50hrs of class time- depending on the aptitude and age of the students.

Individual Courses

StudioWeb courses can be used individually, as well. For example, some teachers using StudioWeb only use the Beginners HTML and CSS courses.

Some of our courses (like PHP and JavaScript) are more advanced and require knowledge of HTML and CSS.

Different teachers have different approaches

1. Jason from Ohio: We recently visited a school in Ohio to watch how classes were using StudioWeb. Like with other schools, students get their daily dose of StudioWeb (30-60 minutes) to help reinforce the subjects that class is studying.

Jason (teacher) would assign the students 30 minutes of StudioWeb per class, and the students would pick up where they left off in whatever course they were working on. After the 30 minutes of StudioWeb, Jason would go over some class projects (ex: building a basic website).

The kids were free to work at their own pace. This means that some students were working on our Beginners HTML course, while others were working on Beginners CSS.

Since StudioWeb takes care of teaching the basics of web design and programming, Jason was able to spend time on class projects as well as helping students who might be having some trouble.

2. Hal from Georgia uses StudioWeb to teach older students. He has students working on StudioWeb at home and counts their work as 10% of their final grade.

Thanks for reading,

Stefan Mischook

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