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Game Design and Development
Port Washington NY

John Resig, RIT Alum

Kevin Granger on Friday, 21 February 2014. Posted in Speakers

The other weekend might have been one of the most starry weekends in recent RIT history. No, I don’t mean the night sky. It’s winter, there are clouds. I mean in terms of celebrity. No, it wasn’t freezefest either. That’s next week.


I mean tech celebrities! Members of the silicon valley walk of fame. Perhaps the average joe on the street might not recognize them, but RIT is anything but average!


The first visitor I’ll be covering is John Resig. John graduated from RIT’s Computer Science program in 2005. He created the popular javascript library jQuery, used in an extremely high number of websites to this day. He also created the RIT Schedule Generator, used by many students each registration period. Currently, he’s the Dean of Computer Science for Khan Academy, an online learning website used by over 10 million students per month.


John came back to RIT to give a talk about his involvement with Khan Academy. He made sure we understood Khan Academy’s focus of offering a free education to everyone, but that its goal was not to replace teachers, and instead empower and supplement them.


John Resig presenting


John covered some of the challenges that he was working on, including internationalization. There are subtleties that needed to be dealt with-- things as simple as having the answer boxes on the other side of the page because of languages that are read right-to-left instead of left-to-right.


The main meat of the presentation, however, was his work on the CS education portion of Khan Academy. He showed us some work done with Processing.js, which is a rapid visual prototyping / drawing language / framework for javascript. I immediately recognized it, as we’d worked with the java-based original version just last semester in one of my Game Design and Development classes. John illustrated new live code change detection and injection features he created, so that students could see their changes to variables in real time. Finally, he showed an alternative to following along with a video -- a talk-along that had the code being written in front of you in real time-- code that was editable, so students could pause the video and tinker with things.


Later that day, John imparted some great advice about working on side projects that one might eventually launch to the world. He said he had three rules in order to balance his time, effort, and focus:


  1. Write code every day.

  2. This code should be open source.

  3. It must be forward momentum-- spending your time changing your indentation style won’t fly here.


Check back soon to hear about guest speakers Alexis Ohanion (co-founder of Reddit, Breadpig, and Hipmunk) and Warren Spector (creator of Deus Ex)!