Whenever we step outside of our well worn ruts, we find a new world. When I took my first programming course as a freshman in college, I got the idea that I would write each of the lab problems in every language that was available at the University of Michigan. A strange thing to do, but it meant that I got to learn Lisp two years after it was invented, and I was well positioned to understand subsequent developments in programming language design. I use this understanding to make things clear to students. A programming language represents a vision of how computing should be done. A good class shows the students this vision, so the language can be seen as a tool. Here’s a link to one of my C++ classes.
Lately I have learned the statistical language R, which is very powerful and also quirky and irritating. For everyday jobs I’ve learned a variety of website tools including PHP, WordPress, Thesis theme, and related technologies like AJAX and jQuery. PHP is a mess, WordPress and Thesis are really good software, all in all the web is an interesting place.