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Tutorial Doctor

The "Terminology" issue.

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So, I have found out that when learning a new topic the main thing that serves as an issue is "terminology."


Another thing is not understanding concepts in general terms well enough to derive more complex things from that. 


It is like somebody handing you a formula and saying, "this is how you calculate the area under a curve, just plug and play," yet if you wanted to create a formula for your own discovered phenomena, you wouldn't know where to begin. 


How does one go about deriving a formula from physical data? Where to start? I have learned that you start with the variables. Yet, most tutorials that are made for beginners don't even mention variables until much later. I think terminology should be built up sequentially, from its most primitive concepts and terminology (building blocks) to manipulation of those concepts to create more advanced things.


So, I have discovered the term "Backward Design," and it has been a sort of EUREKA!






1. How many of you have had this "terminology and concepts" issue when learning programming, or is it just me.

2. Where or how do I get this information without having to search endless forums and watch endless videos who only give bits of this information?

3. Ughhh! haha




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Its a really valuable approach when you are in control of the curriculum (whether the contents of a lesson-plan, set of tutorials, or a book) and can be reasonably sure that the person will follow along in the prescribed order, but it's somewhat at odds with the "information grazing" approach that many people take when learning in a self-directed fashion (for example, using google to learn about a topic by plugging in search terms), or when the reader prefers to see tangible results soon, even if they don't understand all the components fully.


It suits bottom-up learners very well--those that want to know all the whats and whys before the whens and hows. Other people a top-down learners who just want to make things work and don't care about details until the details are causing them grief. Of course, most people are not fully one or the other, and so fit somewhere on the scale between the two. I myself shift along the middle half of the scale, depending on what the topic is and my familiarity with it or similar topics.


Even still, backwards-design can, and probably should, inform how information is organized, even for the top-down learner. Primarily because a good technique to prevent the writer from wandering off on a tangent just because they think the subject of the tangent is cool, or more relevant/useful than it actually is.

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It's not just you. I've recently had similar situations for example with matrices tranforming from one coordinate system/ space to another, where the names of matrices were logically in the "wrong order" (which might be discussable, depending on terminology)

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Tutorials (as well as discussions, forum posts etc) need to have a certain level of assumed knowledge otherwise every single one would have to start from the beginning and work up. If I am writing a tutorial about GJK, it is hardly appropriate to take up half my real-estate with a primer on vector maths when such already exist in abundance. It should also not be required if writing something that you provide an exhaustive list of links to information on the subject that is required - this places much burden on the author.


Part of the process of learning is to be able to find out whether you have the assumed knowledge to understand an article/tutorial/etc and to go and research it independently and come back.


Jargon is an essential part of making discussions focussed on the subject at hand. If I am discussing 3D rendering with other people who know about it, I want to be able to say "matrix concatenation", not step-by-step describe the process behind it, so that my discussion can remain focussed on the topic.


Sure, beginners tutorials are excellent, worthwhile and needed. And they exist. If there is an area where they don't, write one. But a good tutorial or article has focus and assumed knowledge is essential for this.

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Yes Aardvajk, good point, that is true that everything has prerequisites. But many times I hear jargon for the topic being taught (basic programming) before it is ever taught, which makes it hard to follow.

In my tutorial for understanding programming, I introduced the terminology once, with an easy to understand analogy, and only after that was established did I use the terminology.

Just last night I was trying to follow a Harvard course which assumed "no prior knowledge of programming" which also tried to appeal to advanced people and novices. The whole time he was pardoning himself "...oh, and we will find out what this all means in future lectures."

Even though I understood him, I felt sorry for the beginners. The reason I stopped watching it is because, if he is this poor at teaching at the beginning. He will be poor throughout, especially when more advanced things are introduced.

My order of topics were, in general:

1 What is a program (with analogy and example)
2 Variables
3 statements
4 functions
5 conditionals
6 loops
7 data types
8 classes
9 objects

Each section flowed into the next section, and was sort of a prerequisite to the next.

I also had other terminology alongside these sections where the were appropriate. For instance, I introduced subclasses only after I had introduced classes.

I want to go from beginner tutorials to intermediate and perhaps advanced tutorials, but I am having a terminology issue. Also I want to make sure that I only get the neccessary and relevant terms/concepts.

Note: a brief reiteration is always good too (I find that in the best tutorials I have seen).

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