Topic: Do you like screencasts or books as a learning/reference tool?

I tried to see some rails screencasts (both railscasts and peepcode screencasts) but i really don't like this way of learning. With screencasts i can't search a topic quickly, i don't have code ready to copy and paste on the screen etc. Instead i love pdf books for many reasons. I can read them wherever i want, i use them as a tutorial and a reference on a particular topic, i can search quickly on a particular topic, i can update my pdf when a new release come out etc and of course as a non-english person i understand better when i read english than when i listen to it expecially from americans tongue
You can say that screencasts, as for example those from railscasts.com, can be short and more focused on a topic than a long pdf book but then i say that we can have short pdfs too as peepcode had started with its first mini pdf.
What do you think about it?

Re: Do you like screencasts or books as a learning/reference tool?

I like screencasts for grasping raw concepts and then compliment that understanding with books and helpful snippets. Ryan's Railscasts are probably the best middleground I have seen so far. You get code snips, comments and of course Ryan's soothing cool jazz narrative.

Peepcode has also greatly improved, instead of one long screencast, you get chapters you can skip to.

All the same, I really do value my books

Rails Recipes
AWDWR
Ruby Cookbook
Ruby for Rails
Pimping 101 ..woops wrong category wink

Re: Do you like screencasts or books as a learning/reference tool?

I like books so I can actually learn away from the computer (in the car, outside etc...) and not look at the screen all the time. As far as recommendations go the Agile Web Development book is good for beginners.

I don't watch many screencasts but Ryan's are very good. Peepcode is also good but I can't watch a full one without splitting it into 15 minute chunks otherwise I'd go mad!

Re: Do you like screencasts or books as a learning/reference tool?

I understand new concepts a lot better by seeing them first in screencasts. Then I can go back and reference books as needed. When it comes to picking up something new, listening to someone explain it and watching them do it works a lot better for me than reading it in a book. It's nice to have the books for reference, though.

Re: Do you like screencasts or books as a learning/reference tool?

Kelli wrote:

I understand new concepts a lot better by seeing them first in screencasts. Then I can go back and reference books as needed. When it comes to picking up something new, listening to someone explain it and watching them do it works a lot better for me than reading it in a book. It's nice to have the books for reference, though.

the problem is that if you learn basic concepts from a screencast then it (the video) becomes your reference and a video as a reference isn't good for the reasons i explained above! (and furthermore i think that even a long 1 hour and a half video isn't enough to grasp basic concepts  as instead it is a book). I can understand well short screencasts on particular topics (as railscasts.com screencasts) or more in-dept screencasts but on specific arguments too (for example how to build a specific app) where you can reference a pdf such as AWDWR for basic things...

Last edited by skyblaze (2007-09-18 08:23:17)

Re: Do you like screencasts or books as a learning/reference tool?

Compare screencasts to being on a seminar or something. The upside is that you get the source code bundled with the screencast (peepcode), which you probably won't get on a seminar.

They're both great ways of learning. Books are more thorough, screencasts are more hands-on.

Re: Do you like screencasts or books as a learning/reference tool?

I've thought about this a lot in the past (naturally).

With screencasts I try to stay away from "reference" casts where it goes in depth into something showing every variation and detail. This is what books excel at. Instead, screencasts are about workflow. You have a problem and you need a solution. What is it and how do you get there. This is why I try to present a problem/motivation at the start of each cast. I don't always succeed but it is a good goal. In that sense it's less about the code and more about the techniques behind the code.

Railscasts - Free Ruby on Rails Screencasts

Re: Do you like screencasts or books as a learning/reference tool?

ryanb wrote:

I've thought about this a lot in the past (naturally).

With screencasts I try to stay away from "reference" casts where it goes in depth into something showing every variation and detail. This is what books excel at. Instead, screencasts are about workflow. You have a problem and you need a solution. What is it and how do you get there. This is why I try to present a problem/motivation at the start of each cast. I don't always succeed but it is a good goal. In that sense it's less about the code and more about the techniques behind the code.

Anyway as others said in this post if we see long screencasts as a sort of seminary where to learn new things and then related books and pdfs as references (and more in-dept material) to those topics, that is right! I think i still have to grasp the way of learning with screencasts and i think i will continue to watch them to start to appreciate and to learn from them also  beacause i see that this is a way of distribuite learning material that is growing up

Last edited by skyblaze (2007-09-18 16:00:20)