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What we can all learn from the “Hello World” Programming Lesson in Designing Training Programs

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Hello World Code

When teaching someone a new skill or lesson, a way to quickly alienate and frustrate them is to focus too much on the theoretical and not enough on the practical. Practical lessons keep students motivated to complete the training program and move toward their goals. It is actually much simpler than most people think to design a training program that uses practical approaches. By looking at Hello World, the most fundamental programming lesson people can learn, you, can learn lessons in designing effective training programs for any topic.

What is Hello World?

Hello World is the first lesson anyone learns when trying to learn a programming language. It is one of the most famous programs and is often a new programmer’s introduction to effectively communicating with a computer.

printf("Hello, World!");

The Hello World program dates back to 1972 when Brian Kernighan included the test phrase in his book, A Tutorial Introduction to the Language B. Decades later, it is fair to assume that essentially every programmer has written a program using Hello World at some point in their training or career.

By Brian Kernighan (1978)

What Does the Hello World Lesson Teach Us?

To understand why Hello World is such a brilliant lesson, you must first understand how the program works. You can run Hello World in virtually any coding language. The idea is to type “Hello World” as a line of code, and if you have done it correctly, your computer program will output “Hello World” back to you, letting you know that you were successful immediately. Hello World is a simple program, and most codes are more complex, but the important thing is that you could run a test by yourself, get feedback in real-time, and find out right away if what you wrote was accurate.

Learning in this way helps students get familiar with a new topic from the inside out and learn how to navigate a new environment by diving right in. This lesson could apply to any subject, such as marketing, programming, engineering, or biology, and the results would still be successful. When you complete Hello World, you have just made your own program, probably for the first time ever, which gives you the satisfaction of building something new, seeing it come to life, and knowing you did a good job. When students learn like this, even if they are brand new to the subject, their confidence in the teacher, the topic, and themselves quickly grows, and they are left hungry to learn more and keep growing.

Best Practices to Follow When Designing a Teaching Program

When building any training program or lesson, think of it this way: Build your own Hello World. Create something that rewards students for trying to learn, no matter how small or short the lesson. If we know anything from looking at Hello World, it is that it works well enough to be the trusted lesson of virtually every new programmer, and this is likely because it helps students gain knowledge and confidence as they practice. 

As a teacher, it is easy to get lost in the weeds from time to time, especially if the topic is complex. Remember that too much theory can interfere with how well your students learn. If they are focusing only on the theoretical without practice and without positive reinforcement, results will be slow, leading to frustration, burnout, and getting in the way of success. The amazing thing about Hello World is its simplicity. While users might start small, as they get better, they will be able to create more and more until they are fluent in the programming language and can create whatever they put their minds to. Whether you are a teacher or a student, remember that it’s completely fine if your project or program is not perfect or complex. What matters is that you made it, that it now exists, and that you will improve with time and practice.