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Videos (old and new) versus books

Posted on 2016-10-03
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I had this question after viewing basic computing video series.

To learn computer programming. Is it better to learn on an actual book (not on a computer). A pdf book (on a computer) or videos.

How did you learn?

Do you think videos have improved
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Question by:rgb192
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Julian Hansen earned 1016 total points (awarded by participants)
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Best way to learn is to do.
I don't think books or videos are better than each other - each provides a means to get a handle on the subject matter.
No matter what you use unless you follow it up with practical (active) implementation you will not get the most out of the material.
When you are watching a video it is almost purely passive learning - what the video shows you makes sense and you think you understand until you have to repeat or implement what you have seen.
Reading is slightly better as it involves more inputs and so learning is enhanced - probably resulting in better recall - but again unless you perform exercises to strengthen what you have learned and take it out of the passive into the active then you are not reaping the true benefit of the learning material.

Personally I jump in with both feet and try to do before doing any serious reading or researching. That way when I do start with a learning resource I can tie it back to my initial experience. I supplement that by doing little micro-exercises to test concepts and try out things I have read to get a better understanding. I always go back and re-read / watch the material again after a few days because by that time it has had time to sink in and I have had time to experiment which makes me more receptive to other aspects of the material I might have missed the first time around because I was not properly "tuned" in.
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by:CompProbSolv
CompProbSolv earned 164 total points (awarded by participants)
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Just to add some more.....

I think it is important to have a specific goal in mind when trying to learn a new skill.  A specific example that I've used: "I want to create a spreadsheet that will read a specific folder in my Outlook email (that contains data from every time I put gas in my car), pull out the date, odometer reading, gallons purchased, cost, and whether it was a fillup, and then drop that into appropriate columns in the spreadsheet.  I want to do some error checking (for example, if the calculated cost of gas was not within a specific range, then flag the entry as an error, or if the mileage is out of sequence).  Then I want to plot my fuel economy for each fillup, for the last x, and since I started the process."

My reason for this is that I've found it difficult to learn and to retain things without some framework for their use.

My example may seem more involved than what one should try at first, but you can easily break it down in to small parts, none of which is too difficult.

I like books (PDF or paper) as they are much easier to skip around.  I will often find that there are a lot of parts that are of no use to me.
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by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
Scott Fell,  EE MVE earned 164 total points (awarded by participants)
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All very good points.  I agree with having a specific mini project in mind.  If your goal is to create an android app for instance, we don't get instant learning like they do in the matrx.  There are multiple disciplines.  To create an a native app you may need Java, html, css, javasript, and some type of database.  

If you try and learn all at once, you will make yourself crazy. HTML and CSS would be a good start, then move on to javascript and then server side languages like php or java.

I have a hard time reading books and like Julian said do better to just jump in.  I have suggested to many people to find sites like https://www.codecademy.com/ that help you progress through doing.

But start with an indented project and talk to other Experts on what skills you will need to get that done and in what order to progress.
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by:nobus
nobus earned 164 total points (awarded by participants)
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at first  i learned from books
i never was a fan of video's for learning, but they certainly can help.
but i learned the most when i had problems - and nobody was there to guide me - i had to find it  myself.
This makes you look for solutions, and ways to handle problems - and after a while, you have a set of ways you solve problems[
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by:Danny Child
Danny Child earned 164 total points (awarded by participants)
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I find physical books to be the most useful, but having a PDF for quick reference is good too.

Reasons:
easy to "flip through" to get to the bit you want.
you can skip any parts that are not relevant, done already, or already understood.
you can scribble on them or add post-it notes.
pretty easy to open them at 2 places at once.

I find the best books are ones that take you through worked examples - and in this case, a soft-copy of the book is useful for copying code snippets out of, rather than retyping them, which often leads to errors.

The only place I use videos for instructional purposes is for very physical tasks - eg dismantling laptops, phones, etc, where it's much easier to see the location of screws, see removal techniques, etc.  

But I agree with the above, unless you have a task in mind, and you will be repeating that skill-set quite often, then the learning will just evaporate...
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by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
David Johnson, CD, MVP earned 164 total points (awarded by participants)
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Either video or book but create a lab environment so you can try by doing. You will learn more by your mistakes and correcting them than anything else. In other words, how you learn doesn't really matter, it is putting this knowledge into practice is what counts.
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by:lenamtl
lenamtl earned 164 total points (awarded by participants)
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You can start with existing Framework or Opensource projects.
The advantage is that you will have the code and access to community that can help you.
Usually you will also find a lot of free course, tutorial etc.

Computer ebook or real book can be boring, video can be more attractive as you can see what the teacher do, I think  it's more easy to understand with a video. I do prefer when they also provide source code with the book or video.
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by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 41871790
OP really has to make a decision based upon their learning skills
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