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Introducing Learning Labs: A New Way to Learn Programming

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In this interview with Jennifer Kyrnin, Brad Dayley, and Phil Ballard, authors of HTML5 Mobile Application Development in 24 Hours, Sams Teach Yourself (Learning Lab), jQuery and JavaScript in 24 Hours, Sams Teach Yourself (Learning Lab), and JavaScript in 24 Hours, Sams Teach Yourself (Learning Lab), respectively, answer some questions about this new format and what you can learn from it.

InformIT: Congratulations on the publication of Pearson’s first Learning Labs. For people who may not know what they are, Learning Labs are an interactive online course that features step-by-step lessons, video instruction, live code editing, and quizzes. What aspect of the Learning Labs is the most exciting to you?

Brad Dayley: The video instruction, where concepts in the examples can be expounded on and discussed in a more fluid fashion than is possible in text.

Jennifer Kyrnin: I love the interactive coding opportunities. For people who learn by doing, this is a great way to keep them motivated.

Phil Ballard: The integration of different teaching styles all in one place - text, video and hands-on coding examples.

InformIT: Do you think the Learning Labs will have an impact on the way instructors might teach a course, or how students might learn?

Brad: I think it provides a wide array of tools that an instructor can use based on the needs and experience of their students.

Jennifer: I think it will definitely change the way students might learn, as it provides outlets for visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners right in the context of the book itself. Instructors can use the quizzes to help gauge how students are doing during the course of the lessons as well as use the videos to augment teacher-led discussion.

Phil: The book grows into a tool kit, where either student or teacher can select the method that seems most appropriate at the time.

InformIT: How did you go about taking what started as a text-based book and changing it into this interactive learning experience?

Brad: I used examples that were self-contained and could be easily understood and applied in a step by step method. The quiz questions are designed to reinforce the most important concepts I was trying to provide in the examples.

Jennifer: I focused first on the videos to show aspects of the text that needed a more visual format than text can provide. For the quizzes, I tried to create questions that would call out the most important features of each chapter to help students ensure they learned what they needed to.

InformIT: What are the advantages for the learning to this interactive format?

Brad: Some people learn very well and efficiently from books; however, others learn better from videos and interactive code editing. The learning labs provide access to both methods and adds the additional quiz questions to reinforce the major concepts.  

Jennifer: These labs pull together multiple teaching styles into one book, which allows people who might not otherwise learn well from a book to find an aspect that suits them.

Phil: Video is so commonplace in modern life that many people have become used to learning this way; and the coding sandbox gives instant feedback and sense of achievement.

InformIT: Tell us more about the interactive code editing sandbox. How does it work?

Brad: The interactive code editing sandbox allows you to modify code in the examples and then see your changes impact how the example performs. This allows you to solidify your understanding of the code by trying different parameters, values or methods in the code.

Jennifer: These sandboxes let you follow the step-by-step try it yourself sections right in the book, which reduces one barrier to learning programming that many people have—they don’t need to get an editor or other software. They can just do the work right in the context of the book.

Phil: The sandbox takes away the need to collect additional tools before getting started. You can just dive right in.

InformIT: What was the most challenging aspect of moving from a text-only product to this interactive format?

Brad: The biggest challenge of moving to an interactive learning format is changing the thought process from a direct linear approach of concept after concept to an interactive process where you stop at each concept and spend a bit more time to reinforce it by taking the quiz or playing with the code.

Jen: Creating the product requires being able to create quizzes that reasonably define the content, videos that illustrate the chapters well, and try it yourself sections that really do allow the student try the work right in the book.

InformIT: Where can people go to try out these Learning Labs?

Jen:  On the InformIT site, there are free chapters available from all of the Learning Labs. For example the HTML5 Mobile Application Development, Sams Teach Yourself (Learning Lab) offers the first three chapters online at http://www.informit.com/store/html5-mobile-application-development-in-24-hours-sams-9780133927399 under the “Sample Content” tab.

Brad: And for my Learning Lab, jQuery and JavaScript in 24 Hours, Sams Teach Yourself, you can find the first three chapters at http://www.informit.com/store/jquery-and-javascript-in-24-hours-sams-teach-yourself-9780133927597, under the “Sample Content” tab.

Phil: Same with JavaScript in 24 Hours, Sams Teach Yourself (Learning Lab): The first three chapters are at http://www.informit.com/store/javascript-in-24-hours-sams-teach-yourself-learning-9780133927566, under the "Sample Content" tab.

InformIT: How is this learning format particularly suited to learning mobile app development?

Jen: HTML and HTML5 in particular is a great language for doing mobile application development. And these Learning Labs let you see how the various techniques work right away.

InformIT: Jen, What will students learn in the HTML5 Mobile Application Development Learning Lab?

Jen: This lab covers HTML5 from the basics of creating a web page all the way through advanced APIs. Students will learn the new HTML5 sectioning elements, how to create advanced forms in HTML5, the <canvas> element, adding video and audio with the new HTML5 tags, geolocation, offline applications, the History API, and much more.

InformIT: If you don’t know HTML, can you still get started with application development with the HTML5 Mobile Application Development Learning Lab?

Jen: This learning lab assumes the student has some knowledge of the basics of web page creation, but it starts at the beginning and teaches first the basics of HTML, then CSS and some JavaScript. Application development using HTML5 is taught throughout the book in a reasonable and linear format.

InformIT:  Brad, how is this learning format particularly suited to learning jQuery and JavaScript?

Brad: jQuery and JavaScript are perfectly suited to the Learning Labs because the code examples tend to be self-contained and you can easily play with the code to solidify your understanding. For example if you are looking one of the animation examples you can easily change the animation speed or behavior.

InformIT: What aspects of jQuery and JavaScript are covered by the jQuery and JavaScript Learning Lab?

Brad: The lab covers some basic JavaScript concepts and then covers jQuery, jQuery UI and jQuery Mobile.

InformIT: What level of understanding of HTML, JavaScript and jQuery will one need to use the jQuery and JavaScript Learning Lab?

Brad: A basic understanding of HTML is definitely helpful. The lab will bring you up to speed on JavaScript if you are not already a JavaScript programmer. You do not need to know anything about jQuery to begin with--the lab starts at the beginning and will take you all the way through some advanced concepts.

InformIT: What will one be able to do after completing the JavaScript Learning Lab?

Phil: You’ll have a broad understanding of all the fundamentals of JavaScript programming; enough to be competent to code your own scripts and at a good starting point to investigate further the aspects of the language that most interest you.



Take a look at all of our recently published Learning Labs:

JavaScript  in 24 Hours, Sams Teach Yourself (Learning Lab)Ballard and Moncur: JavaScript in 24 Hours, Sams Teach Yourself (Learning Lab)

Learning Lab

  • Your Price: $39.99
  • List Price: $49.99
  • About this Learning Lab
  • A Learning Lab is a self-paced, digital course that integrates text, graphics, video screencasts, and interactive quizzes into one complete tutorial. Some Learning Labs include additional features, such as an interactive code editor. Read the product description for each Learning Lab for more details. The Learning Lab will be accessible from your Account page after purchase.

    Viewing the Learning Labs requires a web browser that fully supports HTML5. Supported platforms are:

    • Windows XP (Firefox only)
    • Windows 7 or 8 (IE10, Chrome, or Firefox)
    • Mac OS X (Safari, Firefox, or Chrome)
    • Linux (Chrome or Firefox)
    • iOS 6 or iOS 7 (Mobile Safari)
    • ?????


HTML5 Mobile Application Development in 24 Hours, Sams Teach Yourself (Learning Lab)Kyrnin: HTML5 Mobile Application Development in 24 Hours, Sams Teach Yourself (Learning Lab)

Learning Lab

  • Your Price: $39.99
  • List Price: $49.99
  • About this Learning Lab
  • A Learning Lab is a self-paced, digital course that integrates text, graphics, video screencasts, and interactive quizzes into one complete tutorial. Some Learning Labs include additional features, such as an interactive code editor. Read the product description for each Learning Lab for more details. The Learning Lab will be accessible from your Account page after purchase.

    Viewing the Learning Labs requires a web browser that fully supports HTML5. Supported platforms are:

    • Windows XP (Firefox only)
    • Windows 7 or 8 (IE10, Chrome, or Firefox)
    • Mac OS X (Safari, Firefox, or Chrome)
    • Linux (Chrome or Firefox)
    • iOS 6 or iOS 7 (Mobile Safari)
    • ?????


jQuery  and JavaScript in 24 Hours, Sams Teach Yourself</em>(Learning Lab)Dayley: jQuery and JavaScript in 24 Hours, Sams Teach Yourself(Learning Lab)

Learning Lab

  • Your Price: $43.99
  • List Price: $54.99
  • About this Learning Lab
  • A Learning Lab is a self-paced, digital course that integrates text, graphics, video screencasts, and interactive quizzes into one complete tutorial. Some Learning Labs include additional features, such as an interactive code editor. Read the product description for each Learning Lab for more details. The Learning Lab will be accessible from your Account page after purchase.

    Viewing the Learning Labs requires a web browser that fully supports HTML5. Supported platforms are:

    • Windows XP (Firefox only)
    • Windows 7 or 8 (IE10, Chrome, or Firefox)
    • Mac OS X (Safari, Firefox, or Chrome)
    • Linux (Chrome or Firefox)
    • iOS 6 or iOS 7 (Mobile Safari)
    • ?????


HTML and CSS in 24 Hours, Sams Teach Yourself</em> (Learning Lab)Meloni: Sams Teach Yourself HTML and CSS in 24 Hours(Learning Lab)

Learning Lab

  • Your Price: $39.99
  • List Price: $49.99
  • About this Learning Lab
  • A Learning Lab is a self-paced, digital course that integrates text, graphics, video screencasts, and interactive quizzes into one complete tutorial. Some Learning Labs include additional features, such as an interactive code editor. Read the product description for each Learning Lab for more details. The Learning Lab will be accessible from your Account page after purchase.

    Viewing the Learning Labs requires a web browser that fully supports HTML5. Supported platforms are:

    • Windows XP (Firefox only)
    • Windows 7 or 8 (IE10, Chrome, or Firefox)
    • Mac OS X (Safari, Firefox, or Chrome)
    • Linux (Chrome or Firefox)
    • iOS 6 or iOS 7 (Mobile Safari)
    • ?????

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