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Saturday, July 06, 2013

Online Education and Udacity HTML5 Game Development course

cuteness by davedehetre from flickr (CC-BY)

Online education has pretty huge potential to revolutionize the world the same way Wikipedia did a few years back, so I've been trying to keep up with what's going on there. So far I'm not exactly impressed, but that's how the future starts.

We haven't figured out the best format for it yet, and there are different approaches. The most basic one is just throwing videos and exercices at people like MRUniversity, and a huge number of youtube channels do. That's pretty limited, since the thing that's most useful to learn are skills not raw information.

Then there's Khan Academy, which mixes really nice short lecture videos with interactive exercices. This might be pretty useful for beginners, but they currently seriously lack any kind of advanced material which would be more interesting to me.

Then there are all the sites for learning foreign languages like DuoLingo, which are worth checking. By the way, if you want to learn Japanese writing, check my awesome game for it.

Anyway, Udacity offers free courses fairly similar to how Khan Academy works, except they're a bit more structured and also cover more advanced subjects, so I thought I'd give it a try as well.

HTML5 Game Development course on Udacity

I've been taking this HTML5 Game Development mini-course on Udacity, more to check how udacity approaches online education than due to subject matter.

I feel this Khan Academy/Udacity learning format - a mix of short videos and short exercises you need to pass to progress - has huge amount of potential. Videos themselves are pretty decently done, they're fairly informative and concise, even if they have a bit less personality than Khan's videos.

The huge problem is the quizzes. They're filled with far too many ambiguities and even outright errors, and most exercices are about "WTF did they mean" than any actual coding, let alone gamedev. You don't really get much useful feedback other than pass/fail, and console.log is only marginally helpful.

I don't know yet if that's just one course I was unlucky to choose first, or if they're all like that. I'm somewhat interested in checking Functional Hardware Verification and Introduction to Parallel Programming at some point as well - hopefully they'll be better executed.

It would be nice if Udacity had some kind of star rating for courses so you can avoid bad ones.

HTML5 Game Development

And while I'm on the subject - please do not develop anything the way they recommend.

Javascript without jQuery (and with fake class-based OO instead) is just a sad sad language. Just use jQuery always and without exception for all your Javascript needs, and don't pretend it is Java.

Even then, HTML5 canvas API really sucks compared with good old PyGame from ten years ago. Perhaps some heavy wrappers could make it less painful, but I haven't really found any yet.

And in vague relation to that - APIs for all game programming libraries I've checked for Android also really suck compared with good old PyGame. Even Python-based kivy feels somewhat off, but that might simply be not being used to it yet. jrpg for phones will probably have to wait a bit.


Hailey Andersen said...

I'd be interested in taking a Udacity course, but I also totally agree with you about this type of education needing improvement in areas like game development. I took several online high school courses when I was younger, and for traditional subjects, the methods worked quite well for me. I'm excited to see how online education develops in the next few years.

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Game Development Course said...

We have many online tutorials which provide Game development courses in HTML5.

jowdjbrown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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