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Bilal Kathrada: Why NetBeans IDE is Great for Teaching Java

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Bilal Kathrada: Why NetBeans IDE is Great for Teaching Java

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We've now met several teachers using NetBeans IDE in the classroom: Michiel Noback (Netherlands), Zoran Sevarac (Serbia), Pieter van den Hombergh (Netherlands) Tushar Joshi (India), Johannes Weigend (Germany), Milen Petrov (Bulgaria), Ken Fogel (Canada), Leon LaSpina (US), and Thomas Stütz (Austria). Next, we travel to South Africa to meet Bilal Kathrada -- NetBeans Team

I am Bilal Kathrada, Sun Certified Java Programmer, Award-winning App Developer and CEO of IT varsity, a tech startup dedicated to teaching kids in South Africa to code.

Why is NetBeans IDE great for teaching Java? There has been so much said in the previous articles in this series, I don’t think I can add much more. Yes, NetBeans is great for all the reasons stated by the previous contributors, but for me the sheer simplicity of NetBeans is the absolute winner.

NetBeans is very powerful and versatile, a sort of Swiss Army IDE, yet it is surprisingly simple and intuitive to use. When teaching code in disadvantaged communities in South Africa, believe me, this is indispensable.

Teaching Java programming in the communities we teach at is very challenging because many of our students have never used a computer before, let alone programmed one! So we begin by teaching them computer basics, and then move on to coding basics.


Our approach is to start off by teaching our students to create a simple, but fully functional GUI app with minimal coding. No IDE comes close to NetBeans when it comes to doing this: thanks to the NetBeans Swing GUI builder, a few drags, drops and clicks and we have an app!

This approach has proven far better than starting off with coding because our students are more motivated when they see a finished product. Once they are into it, we move to Java basics, and gradually through creating simple CRUD apps with the bundled Derby database. See my tutorial here: 

http://www.itvarsity.co.za/creating-a-simple-database-application-in-netbeans/

The fact that NetBeans is free and open-source, is extremely easy to install, and comes with everything students need to create desktop, Web and Mobile apps is truly a blessing, particularly in our context.

But the best part is that when our students move to much more complex development or professional development, they don’t have to ‘graduate’ to another IDE – all the power is right there in NetBeans.  

Finally, please click here to read about our  #KidsLearningCode project!

Are you also using NetBeans IDE as a tool in the classroom to teach Java or another language or technology? Write to netbeans dot webmaster at gmail dot com and we'll work with you to promote your work in the classroom.

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