I am making final preparation for another online University of Phoenix course today and it has put me in a reflective mode on teaching and learning Java. Maybe because I am also burying myself in the world of JSF and AJAX this weekend in connection with a project I am working on I am thinking more about learning new topics.

Anyway, I am teaching a Programming I course (POS 406) where I usually teach the Programming II course. This semester I have been assigned the predecessor and I have been updating my discussion questions, exercises and syllabus all day. Here is the 5 week class layout (note there are simple programming assignments at each step):

Java Basics

· Explain the Java Virtual Machine.

· Explain the terminology of object-oriented terminology.

· Explain documenting, coding, compiling, executing, testing, and debugging Java programs.

Data Types

· Define data types.

· Explain classes and methods

Selection and Repetition

· Explain selection

· Explain repetition

Arrays

· Explain arrays.

Objects

· Explain objects.

The challenge in teaching this course are many. One is creating an interesting and fun environment for students to learn in. The other is the diversity of backgrounds of the students. Some come with many years of practical experience and are finally taking time to get their degree where others are newbies to CS and development. Finally, for this class is not to make it a Learn Java only but to teach the topics generically while using Java as a tool. This was why I was looked at integrating BlueJ, but decided against it as strays too far from the norm for the Univerisity.

The challenges for this course are really different for my GMU IT 443 Course. This course is not a selective but a mandatory course. Also, I believe it contains a lot of theoretical information which you need to teach differently. Finally, when programming in Java you can see a result from a program fairly quickly, in project management this is hard to do in a 15 week, 1 night a week format. Don't get me wrong, I think each is as important as the other, just find teaching Java much easier.

Speaking of teaching Java, the company I work for the FDM Group is looking for Java programmers. I will blog about this later but in the meantime check out the FDM Academy.

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