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Open Ended Lesson Plans and Teaching Code

April 26, 2017

After nearly 7 years of working with schools, it seems clear to me that the best way to teach code, is with an open ended lesson plan. Here’s why:

  • Learners will learn at different speeds
  • Different schools have different schedules
  • Rigid lesson plans will inventively break

Overly rigid lesson plans can easily be derailed … I hear about it all the time. Once that happens, teachers are scrambling to get things back on track. The other approach is to use a flexible lesson plan that allows for variability in the classroom:

  • Student misses a few days.
  • Student is talented and moving fast
  • Student is struggling and needs more time
  • School gets cancelled a few days for whatever reasons …

A curriculum designed for reality

Instead of a set of highly structured lesson plans that can be hard to implement, we provide a fun and outcome focused set of courses that give students the freedom to learn at their own pace.

… A student missing a few days school, working more quickly or more slowly than other students, won’t break the flow of the classroom.

The goal is that students learn to code, and that they understand the basic concepts behind the code. Luckily, this can be achieved very easily and early on in the courses. For students who are high performing and have zipped ahead of the class, you have plenty of course material in StudioWeb, where they can learn another language (Python, SQL, PHP) or build more elaborate web sites and apps.

Thanks,

Stefan Mischook
StudioWeb.com

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PHP Courses for College in 2017 and 2018

April 25, 2017

One of the reasons PHP is a good language to teach server side programming with, is because it is relatively easy to setup a PHP environment on each student’s workstation. With free apps like MAMP and WAMP, you can install a fully functional PHP installation with MySQL, Apache and it comes with an easy to use control panel to manage the servers.

With this 1-click install running, students will be able to explore concepts like:

  • web servers
  • database servers
  • http directory and how it impact server side code processing

… And more.

StudioWeb’s interactive PHP courses teach not only the fundamentals of programming, we also have included key project based courses (crud with PHP, PHP tag cloud) that allow students to see PHP used in a real-world programming context.

Teachers benefit from the interactive training in StudioWeb, since the StudioWeb app tracks student performance including:

  • Time on each question
  • Question attempts
  • Right and wrong code attempts

As such, we generate accurate grades by course, chapter and even the lesson – all presented in simple to read tables. This means that teachers will instantly know how well students have grasped each subject.

PHP is a powerful language that students can almost immediately use in the real world to build great web apps. StudioWeb itself is a PHP app, and after 6 years of refinement, our student outcomes just keep getting better and better.

If you are interested in teaching PHP or learning PHP, check out StudioWeb.com

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GET BETTER ROI ON YOUR WEBSITE TODAY

April 3, 2017

Every entrepreneur and business owner is familiar with the term ROI. However, when it comes to their business websites they have little or nothing to say when talking about ROI.

The overwhelming amount of information in the digital world can trick even the sharpest mind. There seems to be one to many online marketing strategies out there and it can be hard to choose what really works and how to take advantage of it.

The pace with which technology advances is incredible and in the last decades, it has gone insane. There is digital innovation everywhere and there is so much of it that we can barely keep up with what is changing within our houses. No one seems to watch TV or play board games anymore. All we hear about in the living room is Netflix, Xbox, and countless different names of apps with so many purposes that you get lost just thinking about it.

It can get even messier when we go into our screens and into the business world. From the beginning of the internet to nowadays a lot has changed and even though many aspects of the digital world have become more comprehensible to the average business person, at the same time, an incredible number of new marketing possibilities came into the market making it a little confusing. The good thing is that in the end, to have success online, your business needs to focus on just a few things primarily that will make the most difference in the long term.

Take advantage of the tools available

There are many tools available out there to get a website. There is no need to pay $20,000+ for a business website anymore. All you need is the right tools and the right person, and that could well be yourself.

One of the all favorite internet geek tools today is website builders. They are very easy to use and in a matter of minutes, anyone can make a webpage. Among the options available in the market, SITE123.com is a wonderful free website builder with very interesting tools. The only cost involved is for hosting, domain names and other features such as custom email addresses. The price ranges approximately from $9.8 to $21.8 depending on your company’s needs.

By using SITE123’s free website builder, you get a nice cost reduction and that makes it easier for you to get your investment back. Along with other strategies, it will lead to greater ROI.

Provide excellent customer service

There are two things that are extremely fundamental for every business: sales and customer service. The first one guarantees your cash flows and the second ensures you that the customers will be coming back for more. It cannot be different with a website. You must provide excellent customer service in order to retain your clients and make sure they will come back to you when then need more of the product or service you offer.

Traditionally, customer service is offered on-site, on the phone, by mail and email. The digital world offers other possibilities now. By using chat plugins, your clients will be able to contact your company in real-time through a little chat window. They just click and start talking to you. To add a chat plugin to your website on SITE123.com, click on “SETTINGS” and then “PLUGINS” on the left side menu of the website builder.

Capture leads and nurture them

One of the greatest tools in traditional business strategy is capturing leads and nurturing them. This can be brought to the digital world as well. There are quite some ways you can generate leads online. The most common of them is subscription boxes. They are everywhere and seem to be working very well. A recent Forbes article mentioned that if you have a subscription service, capture and nurture leads, you could get an increase in sales of 20%. What a return on investment that can bring you over time.

Take advantage by adding a subscription box to your website. On SITE123’s website builder, just go to the “FOOTER LAYOUTS” options under “DESIGN” and insert a subscription box to your website.

Send out newsletters

Among the possibilities you have for nurturing your leads and actually converting them into customers is one that has been very misused but is now regaining space: newsletters. A few years ago, subscribing to a newsletter from most websites was like buying a ticket to hell. It was so annoying – they would flood your mailbox with all kinds of products, services, fake discounts and so on. And it would not stop there. All of a sudden, emails coming from all over the world with links to all kinds of sketchy websites would arrive: your email address had been somewhere somehow sold on a bundle with thousands of other email addresses.

Thanks to the common sense of some professionals, newsletter have once again become secure and interesting as the websites now seem to send only relevant content and do not just try to sell to you every day at all cost. And customers like it. A recent article by Business Insider reads that 60% of CEO’s read newsletters.

Your business can jump in and use this powerful tool for informing your leads about your business and industry. It is the era of information now and you can also send some interesting facts related to your business or industry. Your clients may like the content and bond to your company putting you one step from retaining them as customers.

On SITE123’s management panel there is an option for managing a mailing list with your leads and sending out newsletters to them.

Keep an eye on new online marketing strategies

Above we outlined a few of the most important online marketing strategies. There is much more out there and every day new powerful tools come into play and some of them could take your business into a huge leap. It is all about staying up to date.

Thankfully, there are many places you can go for help such as forums and blogs with valuable content to inform and teach you about the latest trends in online marketing. Also, remember to sign up for newsletters that you think could bring you interesting information. Using simple smart tools and keeping yourself informed about new effective opportunities to throw into your marketing mix, it is almost guaranteed that you will have great success with your website.

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PHP is Server Side Programming’s Rocky!

March 18, 2017

I’ve been writing code since 1994, and have used many programming languages over the years to build commercial apps. Thought PHP was NOT my favorite language, years ago, I came to respect the pragmatic and effective nature of the PHP universe. From day one, with PHP, you just got things done fast.

PHP sucks! PHP is old!

Funny, PHP is the programming world’s whipping boy. People have been disparaging the language for years and years. And yet, like Rocky Balboa, it just keeps on coming and winning!

PHP now powers more websites than any other server side programming language … some estimates say nearly 80%! Consider that the 3 most popular CMS’ are built with PHP (WordPress, Drupal and Joomla) … it stands to reason.

😎

Contrast that to the once darling of the nerd-hipster programming world: Ruby on Rails. Rails for all its’ positive qualities and innovations of its’ day, has slowly faded. Year after year as PHP continues to hold its’ quiet dominance in the server side programming space, Ruby on Rails slowly sinks in obscurity reminiscent of other failed technologies like Delphi, ColdFusion and Flash.

Conclusion

The naysayer nerd-hipsters will always find fault with PHP because of its’ sorted past, but history teaches us that just like Rocky, PHP will not only last for years to come, but will in fact thrive due to its’ yuuuge install base, and because of continued development of innovative tools like Laravel.

Thanks for reading!

Stefan Mischook
Killerphp.com

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The Critical Job of Testing … in App Development

March 17, 2017

Hi!

We are about to lock-down an app’s code base, before moving to a total rewrite from scratch. But before we move on, it is important that the current version be pretty much bug free, and fully functional.

… Just in case the new version of the app doesn’t hit deadlines on time. At least we will have a fallback position.

Death by last minute changes!

So we decided to implement some last little changes to the soon to retired app, and in the process of making these small changes, not so small bugs crept in. That is a symptom of, and one of the reasons we are doing a rewrite – messy old code base. After many years and developers, the code base is just getting a little to creepy to want to mess with. Developers are scared to mess around.

Test, test again, and retest!

I make it a point to do the testing myself. I know the app like the back my hand, and I can run through things more quickly than anyone. It isn’t the most fun job but since I own the app, it kinda makes sense that I make sure it is working fine before we deploy it.

Conclusion:

You can never do too much testing. Especially on old software that has had many developers touch it.

Stefan Mischook
Killerphp.com

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Tips in Starting a Web Development Business in 2017

March 16, 2017

Hi!

Every now and then I blog about questions put to me by aspiring web developers and other tech professionals in training. Here you go:

Web development is a moving target as technology changes. So what are the skills you need to start a web development business in 2017? It comes down to a few things:

  1. Developing the skills of a modern web developer.
  2. Figuring out what your local market is demanding.
  3. Understand what KIND of development work you want to do.

You can watch my video that talks you through it:

Learn web development from a pro: https://shop.killervideostore.com/

Thanks!

Stefan Mischook

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Will Ai Kill Coding?

February 26, 2017

With all the talk about Ai (artificial intelligence,) people are wondering if Ai will rush in, making human coders obsolete. Short answer: maybe in 25-50 yrs!

Ai is slowly being developed, but there is a way to go! Though true Ai will take a while before it is realized. As it develops, you will start seeing the simple jobs replaced by Ai long before it finally gets to coders.

The 3 Categories of Ai

The scientist have divided Ai into three categories:

  1. Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI)
  2. Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)
  3. Artificial Superintelligence (ASI)

Today we have lots of examples of ANI Ai: Siri, Google search and self driving cars. This type of Ai can only do a few simple things. A long way off from coding!

The second type of Ai (AGI) is what will eventually replace human coders. AGi can think, learn, plan ahead and communicate. When that happens, Ai will replace all jobs, not just coders.

Coders need to Communicate with Clients

Coding has a lot to do with being able to communicate with humans, since you have to speak with people to figure out what they want in their websites (or apps) that you are building. That’s one thing new coders/developers often overlook – the importance of being able to interact with people. Good social skills is a big part of being a great coder.

Of all the skills that Ai will have to learn, the nuances of human communication will be the most difficult. So long before Ai will start coding, it will replace construction workers, truck drivers, accountants, maintenance workers and many other jobs.

… Ai represents a huge change in our society and likely our culture. Nobody can say with certainty how it will all play out. But what is clear, is that the simple tasks will be replaced with Ai before coding … given how complex coding can be.

Legal Considerations

Some of the world’s smartest people are sounding the alarm bells about the birth of Ai, this includes people like Bill Gates, Elon Musk

and Stephen Hawking. I think as we get closer to true Ai (Artificial General Intelligence – AGI) rules and restrictions will be put into place and Ai will likely be tightly controlled. This will further slow the adoption of full Ai in any field. So this will further slow the replacement of live coders with Ai.

Ai will change the Role of Coders

As primitive Ai begins to come online over the next 20yrs, you will first see Ai change the role of coders/developers. So as we use frameworks and code libraries (ex: jQuery, Bootstrap) to speed up development today, primitive Ai will slowly works its’ way into development in an assistive role. Instead of replacing coders outright, Ai will merely allow us more freedom to work on the higher level conceptual aspects of an app.

… Sounds good to me!

Finally, given all the experts seem to think true Ai will only be invented in 50 yrs, I wouldn’t be too concerned. In fact, the fabric of society will change radically (due to Ai) long before coders/developers will be replaced.

Thanks for reading!

Stefan Mischook

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The Web Developers Wave

February 21, 2017

What is the web developer’s wave?

Any freelance web developer or designer will tell you, that projects come in waves. You could be 2 months without any work, and then get 3 jobs in a day. This is especially likely in the first few years you are working as an independent developer. So, there are a few strategies freelance web developers have to adopt to manage the wave.

1. Be constantly looking for work.

After you make first contact with a potential client (to discuss the basics of a new website or web app,) you will often find that you won’t get the go ahead (and the first payment) for a few months or longer. I’ve seen this process take 6 months or more!

So to account for this, you should be spending at least 5% of your time slowly planting new client seeds. Start putting out feelers by mentioning to friends, family, business acquaintances … even random people you run into on the street, that you are open to new jobs. Constantly be farming for work.

2. Manage your cash.

Unlike employees, freelancers have no idea WHEN they will get paid next. As such, you have to manage your money especially well. That means having a lot of cash saved up in what I call the ‘FU’ stash. You can watch my video on the subject.

3. Work to streamline your workflow.

A good workflow can mean the difference between struggling to pay the bills, and swimming in cash. Once you have a proper workflow, you will be maximizing your time, so you can get a lot done quickly. The more you optimize your workflow, bringing in processes, and/or apps that speed up the time it takes you to get stuff done, the more jobs you can take on, and the more money you can make.

For example, web developers will typically pick a web framework to base all their projects on. In the PHP world, these days people tend to go with Laravel. In the Ruby world, it is Rails. In the Java world, it is largely Spring.

… The point of the framework is to provide a code base and by extension a workflow, that takes care of all the common programming tasks like: database access, authentication, messaging and tasks automation … as examples.

My web development workflow:

When I was an active freelance developer back in the 1990s and early 2000’s, I would take on porjects to align with my workflow, and my own framework. Back then, I didn’t like the frameworks that were out there, so I developed my own Java Pojo based web framework that used the 80/20 rule to manage app development.

Basically, my framework was lightweight and it did not try to do everything. Instead, it took care of the bulk of the work (80%) and so with each new project, I had only the last 20% to build out. This meant I was able to put out projects in 1/5 the time. I would quote very competitively, especially since most developers had crappy workflows and many didn’t use frameworks effectively (if at all!) … and so I could come in cheap but was making great money for my time. I would often have 3-4 projects going at the same time to account for the expected lag in communication with clients.

Theses days we have the luxury of powerful and refined frameworks, so I wouldn’t be rolling out my own. So if you haven’t already, I would strongly suggest you start learning one today.

Thanks for reading!

Stefan Mischook

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Should you learn PHP in 2017?

February 16, 2017

Let’s get straight to the basic answer: yes!

PHP is the most popular server-side programming language used today. Something like 30% of the world’s websites are powered by PHP! That’s an amazing stat! But how did it happen?

Why PHP is still so popular?

It comes down to a few things:

  1. PHP has always been easy to get started with.
  2. WordPress is so widely used by small business and WordPress is created with PHP.
  3. Joomla and Drupal are also very popular CMS’, and they too are created with PHP.

… Between WordPress, Joomla and Drupal, you have a huge marketplace of small business owners that need PHP developers/coders who can manage their sites.

How about outside of working WordPress, Joomla and Drupal?

Like all programming languages, you have to understand where PHP is used, and what type of jobs PHP will get you. Here are some of the places:

  • For freelancers, it’s a big yes!
  • For small business owners who are looking for a web programming language that will allow you to get an app up and running quickly, again … another big yes!
  • For WordPress professionals: yes!
  • For aspiring developers who want to work for Microsoft … no.

It’s all in my video!

To make it easy, I created a video that answers these questions and more:

Thanks for reading!

Stefan Mischook

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Google Pixel is really about Google Ai

October 7, 2016

Hi,

I recently watched Google’s presentation of their Pixel phones. The thing is, it wasn’t really about the phone, it was much more about Google’s push into more advanced Ai through Google Assistant.

Check out my video talk about it:

Thanks,

Stef

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