What People Are Saying

Back in the 1980s when I went to college, the only way you could learn about a professor was by word of mouth. Todays students use a site called “RateMyProfessor.com”. After each quarter, I cautiously take a peek at this site to see what ratings my students gave me and I was humbled to see these:

“The legends say he never sleeps…” You can’t hide in Bruce’s class: he gets to know you, and what you need to succeed. I have never met a more attentive teacher, he is almost always available to help any student. Never have I felt such a sense of community , or had so much fun in a classroom. The world needs more teachers like Bruce Elgort.

Bruce is my favorite teacher at Clark. He is funny, and he makes sure to pay attention to each student. He teaches a handful of classes, so choose him when you can! Always jokes around, but is really good at what he does and will drop everything to help you. even at 3 am on Twitter. Even on final projects. Beware: Will make you feel like family.

Bruce is literally my favorite teacher at Clark. He is great at demystifying difficult subjects, and keeping the tone of the class playful. He, is always available to help students with troubleshooting projects. I would recommend anyone in the CTEC program or on the fence about joining, to take one of Bruce’s classes.

Bruce always inspires you to push the limits of what you can do in his class. He is encouraging, helpful, and understanding. He knows the abilities of all his students, pushes the advanced ones and patiently works with the beginners. I feel he is on of those rare people who makes the lives of everyone around him better for being in it.

Bruce is a great teacher. He is more concerned about his students learning than just trying to trip them up on test. He is available practically 24/7. I e-mailed once at 2:00am and had a reply in 5 minutes. I wish he taught more of my classes.

Bruce is by far the best instructors I have had. Yes the classes he teaches are challenging due to subject matter but he does what ever he can to help. This quarter he was at a family event in Denver and when I needed his help rather than wait until he returned he just sent text back and forth with me for an hour to help me and answer my questions.

RateMyProfessor Reviews for Bruce >

Technology and Blind Students

Here’s a video my friend Andrew Pennington, a student at the Washington State School for the Blind made:

Here is a some more information about my recent experience with Andrew while teaching at Clark College that was originally shared on Facebook:

What a wonderful day it has been. My job shadow student from the Washington State School for the Blind spent the day working with me on class prep, code examples, a tour of the campus and then spent 2 hours in my PHP class. The students in the PHP class made him feel part of the class. He also shared with the class his plans for becoming a programmer and his plans to attend WSU. He was also very witty, which for those of you who know my PHP students, fit in perfectly

Another thing that truly struck a chord with me was that he has the same visual acuity as I do. Throughout the day I kept flashing back to myself at his age.

Again, what an awesome experience it was to host him at Clark College — Vancouver, Washington today.

You can also follow Andrew on Twitter.

Clark College Web Development (AAT) Degree

Here is information on the Web Development AAT degree from the Clark College Course Catalog. Many of you have written asking about this program and what it entails. Well, here you go:

The Web Development AAT degree provides students with a foundational and employable skill set in web programming and development technologies as well experience and skills in web design and media associated with the World Wide Web. Essential skills are developed through practical hands-on experience, real client project work, a focus on professional skills and building a portfolio of work.

General Education Requirements
Human Relations (5 credits required)
CMST&210
INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION (recommended)
5 credits
or CMST&230
SMALL GROUP COMMUNICATION (recommended)
5 credits
Computational Skills (5 credits required)
CTEC 121
INTRO TO PROGRAMMING & PROBLEM SOLVING (recommended)
5 credits
or ENGL 135
INTRODUCTION TO TECHNICAL WRITING (recommended)
5 credits
Communication Skills (5 credits required)
ENGL&101
ENGLISH COMPOSITION I (recommended)
5 credits
Major Area Requirements
Web Foundations
CTEC 160
WORDPRESS I
5 credits
ENGL 160
WRITING FOR THE WEB
3 credits
CTEC 122
HTML FUNDAMENTALS
4 credits
CGT 106
SOCIAL MEDIA EXPLORATION
3 credits
Web Media
CGT 101
PHOTOSHOP RASTER GRAPHICS
4 credits
CGT 104
WEB MULTIMEDIA CONTENT I
4 credits
CGT 201
WEB VIDEO PRODUCTION
4 credits
Web Design
CGT 105
USER EXPERIENCE DESIGN
4 credits
CGT 205
WEB DESIGN I
4 credits
CGT 206
WEB DESIGN II
4 credits
CTEC 165
BUSINESS WEB PRACTICES
4 credits
CGT 214
PROFESSIONAL PRACTICES
4 credits
or CTEC 199
COOPERATIVE WORK EXPERIENCE (4 credits required)
1-5 credits
or CGT 240
CAPSTONE PRACTICUM
4 credits
Web Development
CTEC 260
WORDPRESS II
5 credits
CTEC 126
JAVASCRIPT
5 credits
CTEC 127
PHP WITH SQL I
5 credits
CTEC 227
PHP WITH SQL II
5 credits
CTEC 228
API AND ADVANCED INTEGRATION
5 cr.
CTEC 145
WEB SERVER TECHNOLOGY
5 credits

Interview with Bruce Elgort: WordPress for Networking

ClarkWP WordPress Magazine

The following is an interview with Bruce Elgort, a teacher here at Clark College He teaches PHP and other web programming classes in the Computer Technology Department. I chose to interview Bruce because I wanted his perspective as a user of WordPress for networking. I chose my questions to fit under the theme of “How is WordPress useful?” This is a question that many people who don’t plan to use WordPress specifically for business might have, so I thought it was an important topic to cover.

A photo of Bruce Elgort.Bruce Elgort (@belgort) served as the Chairman of OpenNTF, the preeminent open source community for the IBM Collaboration Solutions development platform from 2001-2013. He is also the co-creator of IdeaJam, the award winning idea management software from Elguji Software, where he serves as President and Chief Executive Officer. You can hear Bruce regularly as the co-host of the Taking Notes podcast.

Additionally…

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Interested in taking your PHP/SQL to the next level?

During the Spring Quarter at Clark College, I will be teaching “PHP with SQL II”. This class is a continuation of “PHP with SQL I” . Several people from the Clark County community have asked me if this course can be taken for those wanting to improve their PHP and MySQL chops. My answer is a resounding – YES! I would love to see you in this class. Now, there are only a few seats left and I would suggest signing up sooner rather than later.

In order to be successful in the class you will need to have a firm grasp on HTML/CSS/PHP and MySQL. Interested? Contact me using the info to the right of this post.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Don’t Distract New Programmers with OOP

Thomas Gumz sent me a link to a blog entry entitled “Don’t Distract New Programmers with OOP“. Having just wrapped up one year of teaching “Intro to Programming and Problem Solving” to students at Clark College, I could not agree more. One of the core outcomes of my class is centered around functional decomposition – how to break down a problem into smaller, simpler parts.

When I get asked “What’s a good first programming language to teach my [son / daughter / other-person-with-no-programming-experience]?” my answer has been the same for the last 5+ years: Python.

I get this same question almost on a daily basis from so many people. Admittedly, before I started teaching the class I questioned the use of Python for new programmers. Well, guess what? It’s the perfect language and I have the results to prove it.

Did we cover object oriented programming in the class – yes, but not to the level that most would expect. We did just enough for students to wrap their heads around the concept. In fact, one student tried to use OOP for their final project and had a heck of a time. In fact this student was pushing for more OOP content and after the class concluded they admitted that OOP was much harder then they expected it to be.

The shift from procedural to OO brings with it a shift from thinking about problems and solutions to thinking about architecture. That’s easy to see just by comparing a procedural Python program with an object-oriented one. The latter is almost always longer, full of extra interface and indentation and annotations. The temptation is to start moving trivial bits of code into classes and adding all these little methods and anticipating methods that aren’t needed yet but might be someday.

Be sure and read the blog entry as I think that you will agree with avoiding OOP in an introductory programming class. If you are interested in learning more about pursuing a programming career drop me an email as I would love to help.

You can read what others are saying about this article on Yacker News.

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Learning How to Code with Bruce: The Results

For the past year, I have been teaching a course at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington called “Intro to Programming and Problem Solving (CTEC 121)”. During this time 60 students have successfully completed the course. Here is the class description from the course catalog:

Fundamental concepts related to designing and writing computer programs and procedures. Topics covered include: problem-solving techniques, program design, coding, debugging, testing and documentation. The course stresses concepts common to all programming. Prerequisite: Eligibility for ENGL& 101 and a grade of “C” or better in MATH 095. CTEC 120 recommended.

Typically, 95% of the students who take this class have had no prior experience with programming. In fact, it may even be higher than this.

RECAP: Students in CTEC 121 have never ever written a single line of code.

One other important to thing to mention is that 80% of the students who enroll in this class are not enrolled in a development focussed degree program. Most are from networking, business and other disciplines. Fascinating eh? Read on…

For the Fall quarter I decided to not give a final exam but rather a final practical project. Students were required to build a full-fledged application using the Python programing language. The project requirements included:

  • Demonstrate use of all elements of the structure theorem (sequence, selection and repitition)
  • Use on or more Python libraries
  • Demonstrate the ability to read/write files
  • and many other requirements…

On Monday the class presented their projects to the class and frankly, the students and I were totally blown away by their projects. Remember, these students have only studied programming in the CTEC 121 class for 9 weeks prior to creating their final projects. I wish you all could have seen the students faces when they saw demonstrations presented by the others.

To give you an idea of the types of projects submitted here is a list of some of the apps students created:

  • An app that helps racing pit crews with calculating critical data needed for fueling, tire replacements and more
  • An app that uses the Wikipedia API to read and display random Wikipedia entries using JSON and REST services.
  • A math quiz app
  • A complete graphical version of the game Battleship
  • Several role playing games both text and based and graphics based
  • The game Othello done with the graphics.py Python library
  • A flash card creation and presentation app
  • Several awesome versions of Tic-Tac-Toe
  • An image processing app just like Instagram (complete with an MSI installer)
  • and many others

Congratulations to all of the CTEC 121 students on creating such awesome final projects. You made this instructor very proud.

 

Ars Technica: What’s the difference between college-level and corporate programming?

This article strikes home as I am now completing my first year as a college instructor who teaches computer programming:

When they graduate and get their first job, a lot of students feel like they don’t really know how to program even though they may have been good programmers in college.

What are some of the differences between programming in an academic setting and programming in the ‘real world’?

In a traditional undergraduate computer science program you learn just programming. But the real world doesn’t want people who are just programmers. The real world wants real software engineers. I know many job descriptions don’t seem to express this distinction, which only confuses the matter.

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