Ken Fogel is the Program Coordinator and Chairperson of the Computer Science Technology program at Dawson College in Montreal, Canada. He is also a Program Consultant to and part-time instructor in the Computer Institute of Concordia University's School of Extended Learning. He blogs at omniprogrammer.com and tweets @omniprof.
This was my first time attending JavaOne. I had three simple goals.
- The first was to clear up my confusion over some of the new features in Java 8. I couldn’t figure out the value of Lambdas because I forbid my students to use anonymous classes. They must use inner classes instead. I thought Functional Programming was just about being able to pass methods as parameters in a similar fashion to the C language. Turns out I was right and I was wrong. Anonymous classes are not a good idea but neither is polluting your code with multiple inner classes. Functional programming is pretty much like passing methods in C but now I understood that this means that you are passing behaviour rather than parameters. Now I understand it better and both concepts are pretty cool.
- The second was to get a handle on the trends and tools that are current in the industry. As a teacher I am removed from the working world so I hoped to learn what is important to a current programmer. The subjects of sessions that were given was one good indication and the other was the exhibit hall. I visited almost every exhibitor. I introduced myself, told them I was a teacher and asked them to tell me why they thought their product or technology was something my students should know when they enter the workplace. I learned a lot and I also got 22 t-shirts. My students in class today thought that was very funny. I will be handing out the shirts to them.
- The third reason was to have the opportunity to meet and talk to as many of the programmers and authors I have followed on Twitter or whose books I have read and used as possible. Twitter and other social media is great for introductions but face to face is the best.
I believe I have come back to Montreal a better teacher. What I have learned will allow me to be more relevant in what I teach. I hope this means that the real beneficiaries of my 5 days at JavaOne are my students.
For the future I think there have to be more sessions on teaching Java. With initiatives such as code.org, epik.org.uk, and devoxx4kids every programmer has an opportunity to be a teacher or mentor to someone who wants to learn programming. The Google+ NetBeans Education group is a start, as well as involvement with other education initiatives out there. Next year at JavaOne we might want sessions on how to teach Java.
Thank you Geertjan for inviting me to JavaOne and giving me the opportunity to participate in the JavaOne panel discussion on "Free Java Tools for Teaching Java".
Now we need to think of what we will do next year!
PS: An extra bonus was that I went to the Google Basecamp to see Google Glass for the first time. I’m all about the toys.