Coding for journalists: 10 programming concepts it helps to understand

Paul Bradshaw, Thieme Hennis, Jun 01, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This article won't teach you how to program - not even close. But if you're involved in any discipline employing computer technology - such as online learning - then the language of programming seeps into everyday language. That's where this article comes in - it will help you understand the real meaning of such arcania as lists, loops and APIs. Why does this matter? Because these terms have specific and precise meanings when used by programmers. Take 'objects', for example. To a layperson, a 'learning object' is more or less the same in meaning as, say, a 'learning thing'. But to a programmer, an 'object' is like a template with built-in functions. A 'learning object' is a piece of code that can be customized for specific applications. The implications of this difference shaped our understanding of online learning for a decade.

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