We’ve spent the past month and a half learning PHP. It’s an arduous task only complicated by our own busy schedules. Trying to learn a new language becomes much more difficult when also trying to wrangle sixty undergraduates every week, or finish a dissertation, or find a job.
And yet progress continues steadily. The decision to sideline the redesign of the Ivanhoe information page was a good one in that it’s given us more time to work on the fundamentals of programming. Our development team has produced multiple promising wireframes of the redesigned Ivanhoe game, and the group is close to approving a prototype design of the game. The rest of us are in the process of researching WordPress plugins, hoping to find one that will provide email and social media notifications to players when someone makes a new move in a game that they’re playing. The goal of all of this is to make the Ivanhoe game responsive and appealing, something that people want to play.
Of course, all of this leads inevitably back to grasping the fundamentals of PHP coding. The PHP homework has been many of our single greatest struggle, lurking unfinished in some corner of our minds even as we made progress on other areas of our larger project. PHP is difficult to internalize not because it’s radically unfamiliar but because it’s similar enough to written English to cause repeated problems. For example, to express “and” in PHP, one would write “&&” rather than “&.” A typical line of PHP code is almost intuitive enough to write unaided, and is simultaneously just complicated enough to make an aspiring programmer throw up their hands in frustration. Mistakes will be—and are currently being—made, and it’s at times like this that we’re most lucky to have such a patient and generous Scholar’s Lab staff.
P.S.: Does anyone have ideas for great uses of WordPress plugins as teaching tools? If so, send them our way!