Midweek; past the halfway mark (in time, anyway) of teaching Sun's SL-275 "Java Programming Language" course. I wonder how many times I've taught this course over the past 12 years... I still love it! Even though its just the basics, there's something just plain fun about introducing Java to new minds.
This one is interesting; 5 of the students have flown from Stockholm, Sweden all the way to Cape Town, especially to attend this course! Wow! (Of course they might pick up some sunshine in the middle of the Northern Winter. I guess that may help. ;-)
The trouble is that Java has grown so large over the years that there's a hard choice: cover (mostly) everything in a shallow way? or leave a lot out to get more depth?
Add to that, Sun punt the course as "the" prerequisite for writing the Java Programmer Certification Exam. Frankly, I shudder at the thought! Programmers would need a lot more than just this course to be in a position to tackle the exam. And programmers who are in a good position to tackle the exam don't really need this course!
As it currently stands, the course is inadequate for students attending it in order to prepare for the Certification Exam. There's very little I can teach them and still remain reasonably close to the course materials. The course is pretty good as an intro to Java for experienced developers, but pressure from more experienced developers in the class -- especially when they are in a significant majority -- could, if I'm not careful and strong in controlling it, leave the less-well-versed-in-Java students stranded. (I assure you that I don't let this happen.)
The solution is to split the course in two. One would be a truly introductory course aimed at otherwise-experienced developers. And the second would avoid all basic material -- syntax of if statements, declaring classes and interfaces -- in favour of homing-in on the deeper, less well known details of Java execution that the Certification Exam aims to test.
I sure wish Sun would do it soon! It would make life so much easier for us trainers, and would deliver a much better focussed value to customers.