⚠️ This content has been written a long time ago. As such, it might not reflect my current thoughts anymore. I keep this page online because it might still contain valid information.

Teaching is the best way to learn

2022-05-01 // I proofread this article and fixed some links.

Earlier this year, I gave lectures to undergraduate students at IUT de Clermont-Fd (France) for the first time. I taught web development (using PHP) (slides & sources), and security, mainly focused on Web/APIs security (slides & sources).

I introduced not only general concepts and best practices in web development but also tools such as Git, Vim, Vagrant, Puppet, and GitHub. Each student worked with a Virtual Machine so that they could do whatever they wanted to. Except a few issues, it was really interesting because pushing updates to all students at once was rather easy for me. The workflow was pretty straightforward. All students had to do was running git pull && vagrant up.

Students wrote their own micro-framework in PHP, relying on components such as the Symfony ones and managed with Composer. They wrote unit tests as well as functional tests. Some students even published their own code on GitHub. Most of them did a great job by building a web application combined to a “true” REST API with content negotiation.

As for the security lectures, I tried to give an overview of well-known security topics, including authorization, authentication, some authentication mechanisms, and how to secure the web.

Overall, teaching was a really great experience! I learned quite a few tips on how to be better at teaching. I am used to talk to people at conferences so my vocabulary was a bit too technical. This was the first thing I had to change while explaining something to my students. They never did web development before. Introducing high-level concepts using simple words is not straightforward but it is a really good exercise for those who want to improve their communication skills. Also, as I needed to be able to answer various questions, I had to know my topics “by heart”, including how things worked under the hood. To be perfectly honest, I studied for hours to be better while performing in front of the students.

I got positive feedback from students and that felt great given that it was my first year as a teacher. I enjoyed teaching things that took me years to learn.

Feel free to fork and edit this post if you find a typo, thank you so much! This post is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0) license.

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