April 16, 2003

I'm struggling with the appearance of my two blogs just now (here's the other), to say nothing of my website (which is so embarrassing I refuse even to link to it), and a friend has just told me about w3schools.com, which is dedicated to turning people like me into people like most of you.

Until now my only method for making headway as an internet operator has been to morally blackmail any www-fluent friends I can inveigle into my www-web. This only gets you so far. Sooner or later you need to know something of what you are doing. Now one of the moral blackmailees (who runs this blog himself) may have given me the vital piece of information, which is where to get a whole lot more of it, for myself.

The site gives me confidence, which is important in a teacher, is it not? I just have the sense that what I am being told is true, and important, and complete, and worth learning, and arranged in a way that is going to work and is accordingly going to be worth persevering with. The thing has authority, more than many human teachers I've known.

By the nature of what is being taught, I able to do and am being made to do that which I want to learn to do. I am not merely being informed about the skills I seek, I am practising them, an important distinction I think you will agree. I get to see, at once, the consequences of what I am doing. I have the main page open, where the instruction is to be found, another window where I am typing commands, and a third where the visual consequences of my commands are almost instantaneously displayed.

And unlike with the usual sort of human teacher, who insists on attendance in his classroom, there is no upper limit to the number of pupils that w3school.com can handle, every one of us at our own pace.

As I say it's very early days, but so far so good. I'm impressed.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 11:06 AM
Category: Technology