September 16, 2014
A longer Python ... training course
Over the years we've taught Python, we've seen the language and its uses grow and mature, and our courses have grown and matured to take account of this. Our courses are always intensive, but we've seen that grow more so of late. So we're taking the step of extending our Python Programming Course from 3 days to 4 days (with immediate effect).
The extra day gives us the opportunity of covering Python 3 features in more detail (in sessions arranged to that Python 2 users are still well catered for), Python Resources, and other more recent features in addition to the language fundamentals. And it also gives us the opportunity to extend our practical sessions a little, giving delegates the opportunity to try out and question features which recently have been only briefly covered in this way.
Our Learning to program in Python course now rund for five day rather than four - a full week's course, where delegates start without programming experience on Monday morning and leave us on Friday afternoon with a good grounding of the basics, and some experience of more advanced topics.
A bright new gem - updated Ruby training
We've been running Ruby courses for a number of years, and in that time we've seen the language move up from being a one-application platform (Ruby on Rails) to a whole lot wider uses. Still Rails, but also many other data handling tasks, web site checking tools such as Cucumber, Selenium, Watir web drivers and so on.
Ruby users have moved on from being Perl converts looking to use short sections of script in web pages into a whole wide range of much more diverse and intense uses, and delegates haven't necessarily come from a Perl background so take a little longer to comfortably pick up the philosophy of some elements of the language, many of which are shared with Perl. So we've taken the decision to extend each of our fundamental Ruby courses by a day. We now offer
• Learning to Program in Ruby - a five day course for newcomers to programming (or those who have programmed before but are feeling a little rusty)
• Ruby Programming - a four day course for delegates with significant prior programming experience.
By offering these alternative courses, we're ensuring that newcomers to coding won't get left behind, but that at te same time experienced programmers won't have to sit through the basics. That formula has worked well for us up to now, and will continue to do so on the extended courses.
Our Introduction to Ruby on Rails course - a useful one day follow on for delegates using Ruby within a Rails environment - will be run upon request through to the end of 2015, and we'll also run on request our Regular Expressions Day tailored as required for how regular expressions are used under Ruby.
Course descriptions / dates / links mention in the article have been updated on our web site; further updates to other course sets will be posted over coming days.
September 15, 2014
Certification - for or against?
Our training is designed to teach people to undertake their employed role, and is usually paid for by their employer. And as such, our course agendas are tailored to teach them what they need to know for their work rather than to pass any certification exams.
That does not mean that in principle I'm against good certification schemes within a vocational education environment - they can and do provide a measure for prospective new employers (and indeed that very ability means that current employers prefer to send delegates to a course that doesn't encourage the resource they're investing in to move on!). It's just that we don't run the schemes, and we train people to do the job rather than to pass the exam!
The Perl Certification WebSite says ... "The Perl community is never going to agree on Perl certification as a whole. Some members don't see value in certifications, or might even think of them as something harmful to the community. But many people do see the need for certification and would like to be certified. These people should have the opportunity to get certified. Not by some cheap online test, but by a series of modular exams at face to face testing centers. Certificates that actually mean something and prove the candidates are actually capable of coding and debugging."
Now - we will (happily) provide each delegate with a certificate of course completion, confirm attendance if asked by them in the future, and by prior request and with the knowledge of each delegate involved provide our general feedback after the course. More importantly, we also provide an ongoing support service for delegates should they have questions that come up after the course, but that's a story for another article!
By staying away from a certificate-lead course, we can encourage delegates to bring their own applications and data along with them on the course, and concentrate on making real and effective use of that for the vocational training, without the fear of diluting exam preparation time!
The Horse is back!
After a summer break, the Horse's Mouth is back!
Much day to day writing and activity has moved from blogs to the likes of Facebook and Twitter, and that applies to me just as much as it applies to everyone else - rather than continue on with a lonely furrow here, that people need to subscribe or feed into, much of what I've been writing has been via linked and combined sources.
That, however, isn't the total story - there remains a need to update and feed Well House Consultants training materials and thoughts and examples into our resource channels, and have those channels updated and fed and easily referenced way into the future. Open Source programming is a bit like the eye of a storm - as technology marches on, programming techniques and the need to learn them change quite slowly, and a transient place for filing stories, such as Twitter or Facebook, isn't idea.
The summer has been busy - Well House Manor full every weekend, and often during the week too (but we do still have a room available as I write for next weekend). A protracted staff absence there put pressure on time too. A foster dog - Bobby - joined us for just over a month, melted our hearts but brought such intense jealousy from Billy that he's now moved on (for both their safety) amongst a flood of tears and, truth be known, we've now got our house back from having to puppy-proof, and our time back from double-walkies. It's also been an intense summer on the public transport side, with a need (or at least a moral obligation) to personally help promote the services that we've intensely lobbied for via the TransWilts Community Rail Partnership and over a wider area through the Great Western Coffee Shop, and to ensure that stage 4 of the original "Save the Train" agenda - "AND RETAIN' the service, which we always knew would be the hardest - happens. Actually, it's rather more than that since we're not looking at stable state - the new service has worked so well that we're working out what to help it grow into!
So "The Horse's Mouth" blog faded ... but I'm restarting it this morning, and will be initially an update message board so that I can add up to date links and resources that will get fed into our other pages. I' taking the opportunity to apply a fresh coat of paint (and service the engine, clean the carpets and replace worn out components with ones of a modern design) on our courses, to have a new fleet fit for 2015, and a fleet which has a consistency that's perhaps been lacking in the past due to the various ways our courses have grown up. More about that story anon ... please watch this space ... current courses are listed here and that course index will be updated though this week.