This year I find myself repeating a phrase now aphoristic in my classroom: “paper and pencil are your best friends.” Admittedly, the lonely will find no truth in these words, but they are a constant reminder to my students who I find “coding on the fly.”

A person is seated at a table, writing in a notebook

A common draw to…


Education is inundated with multiple-choice assessment, due to the simplicity of crafting and grading questions. While I have no qualms with multiple-choice as a tool, I have seen a troubling pattern in my education and e-learning career concerning ‘distractors’. Distractors are incorrect choices that should seem plausible only to those…


Recently I came across an interesting challenge at work where I needed to conditionally query data based on a series of Optional fields — that is, I needed to query what was asked for and nothing else.

This task was easily (once I figured it out) solved with JPA Specifications.


One of Java’s most powerful features is how easily it allows one to manage threads for carrying out various tasks within a program. Used correctly, threads can make your program highly efficient.

That said, today I learned about the two ways in which one can create these threads:

First Method: Implementing Runnable

Runnable is…


Today my work tasks led me to read about static factory methods, which are a different approach to initializing Java classes.

Effective Java (Addison-Wesley 2018) helped me understand this concept, and here is my brief take on that reading:

Bottles moving through an actual factory.
  • Static factory methods are given names, which helps us as developers…

Over the past year a ton of people have asked me, “so you’re really leaving teaching?”

The answer to that question was and still is a resounding “yes”.

Many don’t know, but I have been teaching myself Computer Science for the past five years. I taught CS at the high…


Recently I ran into an issue with React Hooks where an API call was failing because the steps I needed to complete were encountering some unintended consequences.

I wanted an object to represent a series of steps that needed to be completed one-at-a-time.

const [stepComplete, setStepComplete] = useState({ 


This assumes familiarity with Formik, Yup, and React.

Today I learned something cool with Yup. Say that you have two drop-downs or fields and you want to make sure that they are different. There’s a really neat way to do this with Yup and Formik.

Let’s go with something easy:


So it looks like I will be learning React this summer! This is a change from what I thought that I would be doing, but I am excited.

A little bit about what’s going on:

  • I am starting as a contractor at Episode Six on Monday.
  • The plan was to…

Today I built a Java Trivia Game with my students, and I want to walk through how we solved it.

First, we set out the steps for the game:

1. The game will have ten questions.

2. There will be two…

Ryan Bowlen

Instructional Designer www.bowlendevelopment.com

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