May 23 2008 at 2:02pm
I just came across a certain article on some drupal theming techniques that called itself a tutorial. What’s the problem? It didn’t actually teach (or tutor) anything. It simply gave you some code to copy and paste and told you where to paste it. How does that help?
People aren’t going to learn if you just give them the answers. This happens all the time in the forums –people post a question and someone comes along and gives them the code to paste in. That solves the problem but the poster doesn’t learn anything in the process.
With coding questions in particular I’ll often give people most of the answer, even writing out a step-by-step tutorial, but I won’t post the full code or a link to a working page. This way the user has to put things together themselves and figure out how things work. There was a really great post at Creating Passionate Users called “Cognitive Seduction and the “peekaboo” law”:
In learning, the more you fill things in and hold the learner’s hand, the less their brain will engage. If they don’t need to fire a single neuron to walk through the tutorial, lesson, lecture, etc., they’re getting a shallow, surface-level, non-memorable exposure of “covered” material, but… what’s the point?
(I totally love that blog. So sad that she’s no longer posting. It’s a must read if you’re interested in education and/or software development or something in between).
With the tutorial in question I came out with some samples of the code I would need to do something similar to what I really want to do. It doesn’t help me understand what those variables are doing and how I can use them in different ways. Not a tutorial.
See, it’s a short post for once. Aren’t you happy?