programming novice asks: how to emulate website
November 12, 2017 6:24 PM   Subscribe

I'm a teacher with a small, outdated programming background who wants to build a website for my own students. I have a couple of very large lists of vocab, ranked by frequency/approximate difficulty. I'd like to use these lists to create a web game exactly like the one at for my students. I need to be able to change up the lists without too much trouble down the road: if I find typos or want to change a definition, for instance, I'd like to do that without a colossal inconvenience. I thought it would be fun to learn how to do this myself. What programming language or tools should I study? Is this something Python could do? Thank you!

I don't have any fantasies/intentions to make this a for-profit website; the vocab lists in question are for obscure dead languages, and I'm not interested in competing with in any case. I just think it would be a good teaching/learning tool.
posted by lotf629 to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
One other thing: it would be really cool if this website could do what does, which is to gradually learn which words users most frequently miss, and use that data/information to make its "difficulty" ranking more accurate. Right now, my difficulty rankings are simply frequency counts: I know how often these words occur in large corpora, and those frequency counts are a decent proxy for difficulty. If I had to use those static frequency counts, that would be ok. But it would be even cooler if my program could "learn" from users which words are hardest.
posted by lotf629 at 6:27 PM on November 12, 2017

I think the 2017 version of this is spaced repetition apps. Try Memrise:
posted by batter_my_heart at 6:52 PM on November 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

If coding it yourself is key to the idea, you might consider remixing something at like this ASL finger-spelling game (live view). I think some key goals of their site are to help people in your situation get going quickly and to make available a bunch of examples for you to copy and modify. Their FAQ also mentions ways to save data like which words are being missed (see "Do you have built-in persistence or a database?").

Glitch uses JavaScript, not Python. I'd suppose one reason is because people writing their first web apps eventually want to make a web browser do something besides load a page, and browsers won't execute Python directly. JavaScript can run on both the client and the server, as you'll see in many examples at Glitch. One good free book on JavaScript for beginners is Eloquent JavaScript (you can click any code example and use the menu to execute it immediately). A text that assumes some programming knowledge but that might be helpful for deciphering someone else's code is Speaking JavaScript.
posted by Wobbuffet at 7:34 PM on November 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

I think the 2017 version of this is spaced repetition apps.

Yup, just put up flashcards in your shared folder/course-management system and they can use an app on their phones or laptop.
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:50 PM on November 12, 2017

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