When Professors want to introduce their students to Verilog, it is much easier for them to hand
out directly the open source toolchain than to ask students to register with a manufacturer to get a student license and to install from the manufacturer several GByte.
Universities like RUB in Bochum/Germany, Centralesupelec in Paris/France, Georgetown in Washington/USA and TU-Wien in Vienna/Austria currently evaluate the usage of icoBoard in their curriculum.
Here you can find some thoughts about what a good FPGA learnding environement should provide.
In the following video you can see how students do program a real FPGA with simple digital logic.
A good beginner tutorial you can find here, but it is in spanish
A great source for learning FPGA is the complete GO Board with its tutorials for just 50 USD
As a beginner, you should be able to focus on the essential things. Full featured Development tools can be quite confusing to a beginner.
As all our FPGA tools are open source, they can be integrated into a beginner IDE tailored to the needs of a beginner adressing simple FPGAs.
Example for this are Synthia, an IDe for writing FPGA projects in myHDL.