A Forum Is Created
I finished work on the Second Edition revision right around the 2008 holiday season and hadn't had the chance to get the program examples and exercises ready for posting before the book was released. Needless to say, it wasn't long before requests came in for this information. Instead of posting the material outright, I decided to start a forum that was devoted to the book. (Besides, I really still did have work to do in order to gather the material together!) Initially, the purpose of the forum was to disseminate the program examples and answers to exercises, and to collect and post errata. The forum format made it easy for forum members to post questions and for me to post replies. Little did I realize at the time that this decision to create a forum would turn out to be a vehicle that has since enhanced the learning experience for my readers, and has given me additional insight into their backgrounds, goals, and experiences.
Instead of posting the answers to the exercises myself, I encouraged the forum members to post their answers. This approach resulted in a number of benefits:
- Different approaches to the same problem were posted, providing an opportunity for discussion and comparison.
- Questions about the exercises and the solutions were posted and discussed.
- Readers became more involved as a result of seeing feedback from other members and from the author.
Forum members also became active in posting corrections to the text. Readers would point out even the smallest punctuation errors! This situation allowed us to compile a comprehensive list of corrections very quickly, and to turn around a much cleaner version of the text in a subsequent printing. Without the readers' involvement that the forum encourages, it would have taken several printings to improve the text to the current shape.
Soon after adding forum boards for examples, answers to exercises, and errata, I realized that I had a group of highly motivated and eager-to-learn readers who were returning to the forum on a regular basis. So I decided to expand the forum by adding the following boards:
- News. Presents and discusses relevant information on Objective-C and the iPhone. For example, a summary of the iPhone 3.0 operating system announcement was posted to this board.
- Quizzes. Chapter quizzes that the readers can take to test their knowledge of the material taught in each chapter of the book.
- Resources. A place where updated information relevant to Objective-C can be gathered.
- Suggestions. Ideas to improve the book or the forum.
- General Discussion. A place for members to discuss a myriad of topics, ranging from career paths to outside training resources.
- Help!!! Perhaps the most useful board of all. This is a place for forum members to ask questions about topics in the book that they're having trouble understanding. The great thing about this board has been the willingness of other members to assist here.
Figure 1 shows a sample exchange of questions and answers from the forum. It's not important that you understand the topic being discussed; the point is to notice the process. The interaction among the forum members and with me is evident in this example and provides a good insight into how the forum has enhanced the learning experience.
Figure 1 caption