Visual Basic is the most popular programming language for the world’s most popular operating system. By encapsulating the complexities of the windows application program interface (API) into easily manipulated objects, Visual Basic is the first language people consider when they want rapid application development for the Windows environment. The capability of custom controls to easily extend the language has made Visual Basic a popular choice for an amazingly wide variety of programming tasks.
However, the easy accessibility of the language and its enormous breadth pose challenges to both the students and the instructor. Students approach the language from a wide variety of backgrounds and abilities: Some are new to programming; some have extensive programming experience in other languages (often character-based procedural languages); some want to learn the language to accomplish a very specific task.
Frequently, instructions are challenged by the variety of students who come together in a course. A senior engineer from an aerospace company sits right next to a programming neophyte. Some students are comfortable working with a visual programming environment, while others find the design paradigm quite difficult. Consequently, teaching materials must be flexible enough to accommodate a broad range of backgrounds.