The last few posts are getting to the heart of this endeavor. I will offer some of my thoughts. [Not a single word of this is sarcastic b.t.w.]
The beginner-level documentation must be effortless for the beginner.
Loads of Joomla documentation, big problem for beginners is finding the way in.
This is a great point. The beginner should only have to find the first word of the beginner documentation. From there he/she proceeds from left to right, top to bottom, page to page. [not sarcastic]
The beginner should not at any time say "Wait, What?". The documentation is
the what/who/where/why/when. If the beginner is asking questions of what/why/who/when/where/how, -then the information/documentation is not beginner-level.
“If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough”
Conversely: If its not explained simply enough, the learner won't understand it well enough. (or at all.)
Einstein also said:
"It should be possible to explain the laws of physics to a barmaid."
The thing is to find someone who is capable of explaining things on a rock-bottom level. Here is a question I'd like to hear people's thoughts on: Is the system called Joomla! so complex, and does it involve such technologies, that it cannot be explained simply. And one must learn these technologies [MySQl, Apache, FTP, ..] in order to read a manual on Joomla and understand it to the point that they can use it? Even a Yes or No would break the silence on this issue.
Another question is exactly what/how much does one need to know to use Joomla! (in an average way. Obviously to do something like write a custom PHP module, one has to know PHP. But we're talking about a typical user.)
Bear in mind, there are an increasing number of inexpensive books for those who decide they want to pursue using Joomla! as a commercial tool.
Although I haven't by any means read all the books out there on Joomla! and PHP etc, I have started reading several. They start off with something that is understandable by a beginner, but by literally page 2-8 they are jogging swiftly along and have left the beginner in the dust. Some don't even start off walking along with the beginner, they just sprint right from paragraph 1.
So the 'official Joomla! beginner course' could stand out in the world of documentation, if it is truly beginner-readable. My father used to say "Compare yourself to the best, not to the worst."
I believe our target audience is new people who want to get started with Joomla!, or are considering using Joomla! and need enough to get an idea of how to work with it. It might be worthwhile to tailor this learning experience in such a way that it can be accomplished from start to end in four hours, or six hours, tops.
I am reading between the lines [and I could be wrong], and I think Amy is saying that if a solid beginner course is created, the beginner can complete it, and then be able to understand the other non-beginner books and documentation that are available.
This is a good idea. It has been pointed out in this and another thread that everything in the world of PHP/_AMPP/HTML/websites/etc cannot be covered in a beginner's course. The question is what things does a beginner need to know before they can move on to other sources? (there needs to be a primer before moving on to even the books with "Beginner" in the title.) And, can these things be learned in a 4-6 hour course?
Einstein said 'if you study a subject for fifteen minutes a day, you will be an expert in that field within a year. If you study that subject for fifteen minutes a day for five years you will be a national expert.'
What I'm about to say is very crucial here: I don't think it matters much if the beginner guide is quite long. It matters that each and every thing in it is understandable to a beginner, in order, from the first sentence to the last sentence.
I very much want to learn Joomla. I would read several thousand pages. But if I'm lost at page 3 or page 1, then why continue reading?
As a guideline: 15 minutes * 365days = 5,475 minutes divided by 60 = 91.25 hours
But <60 seconds is how long a beginner reads a given document/book before he/she encounters things that he/she doesn't understand. Understanding is the what needs to be taking place. (not to be lost sight of).
As to what things need to be taught, I don't know because I am a beginner. Something that needs to be considered is the "who's". Who is responsible for a given security issue, who configures the installation, who...? In the existing documentation there are things that are presented to the reader, but its unclear as to who will do the things, -the webhosting company? me? Do I have to tell
the webhost to do this? Also I don't know who I'm protecting my website(s) from. Hackers I guess. But do hackers hack into -for example- a fan website about movies, or a blog about squirrels? -imo there should be some info about these things in the beginner's guide. Without the why, the beginner is lost, and also they have less 'motivation' to learn/do a given thing.
It seems that many of you work professionally in teams/companies. It should be borne in mind that the average beginner [I, for one anyway] is a team of 1. If they don't understand a given thing and don't do it, there is no other department or individual that can/will do it. And nobody to teach it to them.
is this where i say " have you asked a 'beginner' what they actually want?" or "cant find the answer to..." when they started?
What this beginner wants is something I can read through and understand what I need to understand, to start using Joomla!; or alternately, to proceed to non-beginner, intermediate-level documents.
This is what is assured and all but promised in the Joomla! website. If this is A) not possible, or B) not completed, -then I would like people to say so, and we can at least make the Joomla website express the truth about how easy it will be for a beginner to learn Joomla! -whatever that truth is.
I am volunteering to read and offer beginner's feedback on anything anyone writes. Sentence-by-sentence if necessary. But if you give me chapter 4 first, I'm not going to be able to evaluate it.
A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.