Today, some of the more popular educational materials can be found in audio (podcasts) or audiovisual (screencasts) form. Additionally, sites like Try Ruby encourage you to give kinesthetic learning a try. After seeing the growth in each of these areas over the past few years, I think it's fair to say that the conference speaker was on to something.
I sent a draft of this entry to Geoffrey Grosenbach for review. He sent back a few more reasons why he believes in screencasts as good teaching tools.
Here's a few links for those intersted in trying out some alternative learning tools.
- Efficiency of time: It takes dozens of hours to read a 300 page book straight through. But a screencast can pack the most relevant information into an hour.
- Passive/Active: You can sit back and pick up whatever elements are interesting to you. Some people say the most valuable part is learning auxiliary shell shortcuts or workflow tips.
- Graphical/Textual: I don't know any tech publisher who pays an artist to draw helpful diagrams. Screencasts are inherently graphical and it makes sense to include a few diagrams that explain the topic better than paragraphs of text would.