Teaching

Learning To Program In Python With CodeGrades - Episode 224

Summary

With the increasing role of software in our world there has been an accompanying focus on teaching people to program. There are numerous approaches that have been attempted to achieve this goal with varying levels of success. Nicholas Tollervey has begun a new effort that blends the approach adopted by musicians and martial artists that uses a series of grades to provide recognition for the achievements of students. In this episode he explains how he has structured the study groups, syllabus, and evaluations to help learners build projects based on their interests and guide their own education while incorporating useful skills that are necessary for a career in software. If you are interested in learning to program, teach others, or act as a mentor then give this a listen and then get in touch with Nicholas to help make this endeavor a success.

Announcements

  • Hello and welcome to Podcast.__init__, the podcast about Python and the people who make it great.
  • When you’re ready to launch your next app or want to try a project you hear about on the show, you’ll need somewhere to deploy it, so take a look at our friends over at Linode. With 200 Gbit/s private networking, scalable shared block storage, node balancers, and a 40 Gbit/s public network, all controlled by a brand new API you’ve got everything you need to scale up. And for your tasks that need fast computation, such as training machine learning models, they just launched dedicated CPU instances. Go to pythonpodcast.com/linode to get a $20 credit and launch a new server in under a minute. And don’t forget to thank them for their continued support of this show!
  • You listen to this show to learn and stay up to date with the ways that Python is being used, including the latest in machine learning and data analysis. For even more opportunities to meet, listen, and learn from your peers you don’t want to miss out on this year’s conference season. We have partnered with organizations such as O’Reilly Media, Dataversity, Corinium Global Intelligence. Coming up this fall is the combined events of Graphorum and the Data Architecture Summit. The agendas have been announced and super early bird registration for up to $300 off is available until July 26th, with early bird pricing for up to $200 off through August 30th. Use the code BNLLC to get an additional 10% off any pass when you register. Go to pythonpodcast.com/conferences to learn more and take advantage of our partner discounts when you register.
  • Visit the site to subscribe to the show, sign up for the newsletter, and read the show notes. And if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions I would love to hear them. You can reach me on Twitter at @Podcast__init__ or email [email protected])
  • To help other people find the show please leave a review on iTunes and tell your friends and co-workers
  • Join the community in the new Zulip chat workspace at pythonpodcast.com/chat
  • Your host as usual is Tobias Macey and today Nicholas Tollervey is back to talk about his work on CodeGrades, a new effort that he is building to blend his backgrounds in music, education, and software to help teach kids of all ages how to program.

Interview

  • Introductions
  • How did you get introduced to Python?
  • Can you start by describing what CodeGrades is and what motivated you to start this project?
    • How does it differ from other approaches to teaching software development that you have encountered?
    • Is there a particular age or level of background knowledge that you are targeting with the curriculum that you are developing?
  • What are the criteria that you are measuring against and how does that criteria change as you progress in grade levels?
  • For someone who completes the full set of levels, what level of capability would you expect them to have as a developer?
  • Given your affiliation with the Python community it is understandable that you would target that language initially. What would be involved in adapting the curriculum, mentorship, and assessments to other languages?
    • In what other ways can this idea and platform be adapted to accomodate other engineering skills? (e.g. system administration, statistics, graphic design, etc.)
  • What interesting/exciting/unexpected outcomes and lessons have you found while iterating on this idea?
  • For engineers who would like to be involved in the CodeGrades platform, how can they contribute?
  • What challenges do you anticipate as you continue to develop the curriculum and mentor networks?
  • How do you envision the future of CodeGrades taking ship in the medium to long term?

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The intro and outro music is from Requiem for a Fish The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA

Hardware Hacking Made Easy With CircuitPython - Episode 212

Summary

Learning to program can be a frustrating process, because even the simplest code relies on a complex stack of other moving pieces to function. When working with a microcontroller you are in full control of everything so there are fewer concepts that need to be understood in order to build a functioning project. CircuitPython is a platform for beginner developers that provides easy to use abstractions for working with hardware devices. In this episode Scott Shawcroft explains how the project got started, how it relates to MicroPython, some of the cool ways that it is being used, and how you can get started with it today. If you are interested in playing with low cost devices without having to learn and use C then give this a listen and start tinkering!

Announcements

  • Hello and welcome to Podcast.__init__, the podcast about Python and the people who make it great.
  • When you’re ready to launch your next app or want to try a project you hear about on the show, you’ll need somewhere to deploy it, so take a look at our friends over at Linode. With 200 Gbit/s private networking, scalable shared block storage, node balancers, and a 40 Gbit/s public network, all controlled by a brand new API you’ve got everything you need to scale up. And for your tasks that need fast computation, such as training machine learning models, they just launched dedicated CPU instances. Go to pythonpodcast.com/linode to get a $20 credit and launch a new server in under a minute. And don’t forget to thank them for their continued support of this show!
  • You listen to this show to learn and stay up to date with the ways that Python is being used, including the latest in machine learning and data analysis. For even more opportunities to meet, listen, and learn from your peers you don’t want to miss out on this year’s conference season. We have partnered with organizations such as O’Reilly Media, Dataversity, and the Open Data Science Conference. Go to pythonpodcast.com/conferences to learn more and take advantage of our partner discounts when you register.
  • Visit the site to subscribe to the show, sign up for the newsletter, and read the show notes. And if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions I would love to hear them. You can reach me on Twitter at @Podcast__init__ or email [email protected])
  • To help other people find the show please leave a review on iTunes and tell your friends and co-workers
  • Join the community in the new Zulip chat workspace at pythonpodcast.com/chat
  • Your host as usual is Tobias Macey and today I’m interviewing Scott Shawcroft about CircuitPython, the easiest way to program microcontrollers

Interview

  • Introductions
  • How did you get introduced to Python?
  • Can you start by explaining what CircuitPython is and how the project got started?
    • I understand that you work at Adafruit and I know that a number of their products support CircuitPython. What other runtimes do you support?
  • Microcontrollers have typically been the domain of C because of the resource and performance constraints. What are the benefits of using Python to program hardware devices?
  • With the wide availability of powerful computing platforms, what are the benefits of experimenting with microcontrollers and their peripherals?
  • I understand that CircuitPython is a friendly fork of MicroPython. What have you changed in your version?
    • How do you structure your development to avoid conflicts with the upstream project?
    • What are some changes that you have contributed back to MicroPython?
  • What are some of the features of CircuitPython that make it easier for users to interact with sensors, motors, etc.?
  • CircuitPython provides an easy on-ramp for experimenting with hardware projects. Is there a point where a user will outgrow it and need to move to a different language or framework?
  • What are some of the most interesting/innovative/unexpected projects that you have seen people build using CircuitPython?
    • Are there any cases of someone building and shipping a production grade project in CircuitPython?
  • What have been some of the most interesting/challenging/unexpected aspects of building and maintaining CircuitPython?
  • What is in store for the future of the project?

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The intro and outro music is from Requiem for a Fish The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA

Classic Computer Science For Pythonistas - Episode 197

Summary

Software development is a career that attracts people from all backgrounds, and Python in particular helps to make it an approachable occupation. Because of the variety of paths that can be taken it is becoming increasingly common for practitioners to bypass the traditional computer science education. In this episode David Kopec discusses some of the classic problems that he has found most useful to understand in his work as a professor and practitioner of software engineering. He shares his motivation for writing the book "Classic Computer Science Problems In Python", the practical approach that he took, and an overview of how the contents can be used in your day-to-day work.

Announcements

  • Hello and welcome to Podcast.__init__, the podcast about Python and the people who make it great.
  • When you’re ready to launch your next app or want to try a project you hear about on the show, you’ll need somewhere to deploy it, so take a look at our friends over at Linode. With 200 Gbit/s private networking, scalable shared block storage, node balancers, and a 40 Gbit/s public network, all controlled by a brand new API you’ve got everything you need to scale up. Go to pythonpodcast.com/linode to get a $20 credit and launch a new server in under a minute. And don’t forget to thank them for their continued support of this show!
  • And to keep track of how your team is progressing on building new features and squashing bugs, you need a project management system designed by software engineers, for software engineers. Clubhouse lets you craft a workflow that fits your style, including per-team tasks, cross-project epics, a large suite of pre-built integrations, and a simple API for crafting your own. Podcast.__init__ listeners get 2 months free on any plan by going to pythonpodcast.com/clubhouse today and signing up for a trial.
  • Visit the site to subscribe to the show, sign up for the newsletter, and read the show notes. And if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions I would love to hear them. You can reach me on Twitter at @Podcast__init__ or email [email protected])
  • To help other people find the show please leave a review on iTunes, or Google Play Music, tell your friends and co-workers, and share it on social media.
  • Join the community in the new Zulip chat workspace at pythonpodcast.com/chat
  • Your host as usual is Tobias Macey and today I’m interviewing David Kopec about his recent book "Classic Computer Science Problems In Python"

Interview

  • Introductions
  • How did you get introduced to Python?
  • Can you start by discussing your motivation for creating this book and the subject matter that it covers?
    • How do you define a "classic" computer science problem and what was your criteria for selecting the specific cases that you included in the book?
  • What are your favorite features of the Python language, and which of them did you learn as part of the process of writing the examples for this book?
  • Which classes of problems have you found to be most difficult for your readers and students to master?
    • Which do you consider to be most relevant/useful to professional software engineers?
  • I was pleasantly surprised to see introductory aspects of artificial intelligence included in the subject matter that you covered. How did you approach the challenge of making the underlying principles accessible to readers who don’t necessarily have a background in the related fields of mathematics?
  • What are some of the most interesting or unexpected changes that you had to make in the process of adapting your examples from Swift to Python in order to make them appropriately idiomatic?
  • By aiming for an intermediate audience you free yourself of the need to incorporate fundamental aspects of programming, but there can be a wide variety of experiences at that level of experience. How did you approach the challenge of making the text accessible while still being accurate and engaging?
  • What are some of the resources that you would recommend to readers who would like to continue learning about computer science after completing your book?

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Book Discount And Giveaway

  • Use code podinit19 to get 40% off all Manning products

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The intro and outro music is from Requiem for a Fish The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA

Teaching Digital Archaeology With Jupyter Notebooks - Episode 194

Summary

Computers have found their way into virtually every area of human endeavor, and archaeology is no exception. To aid his students in their exploration of digital archaeology Shawn Graham helped to create an online, digital textbook with accompanying interactive notebooks. In this episode he explains how computational practices are being applied to archaeological research, how the Online Digital Archaeology Textbook was created, and how you can use it to get involved in this fascinating area of research.

Introduction

  • Hello and welcome to Podcast.__init__, the podcast about Python and the people who make it great.
  • When you’re ready to launch your next app or want to try a project you hear about on the show, you’ll need somewhere to deploy it, so take a look at our friends over at Linode. With 200 Gbit/s private networking, scalable shared block storage, node balancers, and a 40 Gbit/s public network, all controlled by a brand new API you’ve got everything you need to scale up. Go to pythonpodcast.com/linode to get a $20 credit and launch a new server in under a minute. And don’t forget to thank them for their continued support of this show!
  • And to keep track of how your team is progressing on building new features and squashing bugs, you need a project management system designed by software engineers, for software engineers. Clubhouse lets you craft a workflow that fits your style, including per-team tasks, cross-project epics, a large suite of pre-built integrations, and a simple API for crafting your own. Podcast.__init__ listeners get 2 months free on any plan by going to pythonpodcast.com/clubhouse today and signing up for a trial.
  • Visit the site to subscribe to the show, sign up for the newsletter, and read the show notes. And if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions I would love to hear them. You can reach me on Twitter at @Podcast__init__ or email [email protected])
  • To help other people find the show please leave a review on iTunes, or Google Play Music, tell your friends and co-workers, and share it on social media.
  • Join the community in the new Zulip chat workspace at pythonpodcast.com/chat
  • Your host as usual is Tobias Macey and today I’m interviewing Shawn Graham about his work on the Online Digital Archaeology Textbook

Interview

  • Introductions
  • How did you get introduced to Python?
  • Can you start by explaining what digital archaeology is?
  • To facilitate your teaching you have collaborated on the O-DATE textbook and associated Jupyter notebooks. Can you describe what that resource covers and how the project got started?
  • What have you found to be the most critical lessons for your students to help them be effective archaeologists?
    • What are the most useful aspects of leveraging computational techniques in an archaeological context?
  • Can you describe some of the sources and formats of data that would commonly be encountered by digital archaeologists?
  • The notebooks that accompany the text have a mixture of R and Python code. What are your personal guidelines for when to use each language?
  • How have the skills and tools of software engineering influenced your views and approach to research and education in the realm of archaeology?
  • What are some of the most novel or engaging ways that you have seen computers applied to the field of archaeology?
  • What are your goals and aspirations for the O-DATE project?

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The intro and outro music is from Requiem for a Fish The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA

The Business Of Technical Authoring With William Vincent - Episode 179

Summary

There are many aspects of learning how to program and at least as many ways to go about it. This is multiplicative with the different problem domains and subject areas where software development is applied. In this episode William Vincent discusses his experiences learning how web development mid-career and then writing a series of books to make the learning curve for Django newcomers shallower. This includes his thoughts on the business aspects of technical writing and teaching, the challenges of keeping content up to date with the current state of software, and the ever-present lack of sufficient information for new programmers.

Preface

  • Hello and welcome to Podcast.__init__, the podcast about Python and the people who make it great.
  • When you’re ready to launch your next app you’ll need somewhere to deploy it, so check out Linode. With private networking, shared block storage, node balancers, and a 40Gbit network, all controlled by a brand new API you’ve got everything you need to scale up. Go to podcastinit.com/linode to get a $20 credit and launch a new server in under a minute.
  • Visit the site to subscribe to the show, sign up for the newsletter, and read the show notes. And if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions I would love to hear them. You can reach me on Twitter at @Podcast__init__ or email [email protected])
  • To help other people find the show please leave a review on iTunes, or Google Play Music, tell your friends and co-workers, and share it on social media.
  • Join the community in the new Zulip chat workspace at podcastinit.com/chat
  • Your host as usual is Tobias Macey and today I’m interviewing William Vincent about his experience learning to code mid-career and then writing a series of books to bring you along on his journey from beginner to advanced Django developer

Interview

  • Introductions
  • How did you get introduced to Python?
  • How has your experience as someone who began working as a developer mid-career influenced your approach to software?
  • How do you compare Python options for web development (Django/Flask) to others such as Ruby on Rails or Node/Express in the JavaScript world?
  • What was your motivation for writing a beginner guide to Django?
    • What was the most difficult aspect of determining the appropriate level of depth for the content?
    • At what point did you decide to publish the tutorial you were compiling as a book?
  • In the posts that you wrote about your experience authoring the books you give a detailed description of the economics of being an author. Can you discuss your thoughts on that?
    • Focusing on a library or framework, such as Django, increases the maintenance burden of a book, versus one that is written about fundamental principles of computing. What are your thoughts on the tradeoffs involved in selecting a topic for a technical book?
  • Challenges of creating useful intermediate content (lots of beginner tutorials and deep dives, not much in the middle)
  • After your initial foray into technical authoring you decided to follow it with two more books. What other topics are you covering with those?
    • Once you are finished with the third do you plan to continue writing, or will you shift your focus to something else?
  • Translating content to reach a larger audience
  • What advice would you give to someone who is considering writing a book of their own?
    • What alternative avenues do you think would be more valuable for themselves and their audience?
    • Alternative avenues for providing useful training to developers

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The intro and outro music is from Requiem for a Fish The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA

Helping Teacher's Bring Python Into The Classroom With Nicholas Tollervey - Episode 173

Summary

There are a number of resources available for teaching beginners to code in Python and many other languages, and numerous endeavors to introduce programming to educational environments. Sometimes those efforts yield success and others can simply lead to frustration on the part of the teacher and the student. In this episode Nicholas Tollervey discusses his work as a teacher and a programmer, his work on the micro:bit project and the PyCon UK education summit, as well as his thoughts on the place that Python holds in educational programs for teaching the next generation.

Preface

  • Hello and welcome to Podcast.__init__, the podcast about Python and the people who make it great.
  • When you’re ready to launch your next app you’ll need somewhere to deploy it, so check out Linode. With private networking, shared block storage, node balancers, and a 200Gbit network, all controlled by a brand new API you’ve got everything you need to scale up. Go to podcastinit.com/linode to get a $20 credit and launch a new server in under a minute.
  • Visit the site to subscribe to the show, sign up for the newsletter, and read the show notes. And if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions I would love to hear them. You can reach me on Twitter at @Podcast__init__ or email [email protected])
  • To help other people find the show please leave a review on iTunes, or Google Play Music, tell your friends and co-workers, and share it on social media.
  • Join the community in the new Zulip chat workspace at podcastinit.com/chat
  • Your host as usual is Tobias Macey and today I’m interviewing Nicholas Tollervey about his efforts to improve the accessibility of Python for educators

Interview

  • Introductions
  • How did you get introduced to Python?
  • How has your experience as a teacher influenced your work as a software engineer?
  • What are some of the ways that practicing software engineers can be most effective in supporting the efforts teachers and students to become computationally literate?
    • What are your views on the reasons that computational literacy is important for students?
  • What are some of the most difficult barriers that need to be overcome for students to engage with Python?
    • How important is it, in your opinion, to expose students to text-based programming, as opposed to the block-based environment of tools such as Scratch?
    • At what age range do you think we should be trying to engage students with programming?
  • When the teacher’s day was introduced as part of the education summit for PyCon UK what was the initial reception from the educators who attended?
    • How has the format for the teacher’s portion of the conference changed in the subsequent years?
    • What have been some of the most useful or beneficial aspects for the teacher’s and how much engagement occurs between the conferences?
  • What was your involvement in the initiative that brought the BBC micro:bit to UK classrooms?
    • What kinds of feedback have you gotten from students who have had an opportunity to use them?
    • What are some of the most interesting or unexpected uses of the micro:bit that you have seen?

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The intro and outro music is from Requiem for a Fish The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA

Annapoornima Koppad - Episode 81

Summary

Annapoornima Koppad is a director of the PSF, founder of the Bangalore chapter of PyLadies, and is a Python instructor at the Indian Institute of Science. In this week’s episode she talks about how she got started with Python, her experience running the PyLadies meetup, and working with the PSF.

Brief Introduction

  • Hello and welcome to Podcast.__init__, the podcast about Python and the people who make it great.
  • I would like to thank everyone who has donated to the show. Your contributions help us make the show sustainable.
  • When you’re ready to launch your next project you’ll need somewhere to deploy it. Check out Linode at linode.com/podcastinit and get a $20 credit to try out their fast and reliable Linux virtual servers for running your awesome app.
  • You’ll want to make sure that your users don’t have to put up with bugs, so you should use Rollbar for tracking and aggregating your application errors to find and fix the bugs in your application before your users notice they exist. Use the link rollbar.com/podcastinit to get 90 days and 300,000 errors for free on their bootstrap plan.
  • Visit our site to subscribe to our show, sign up for our newsletter, read the show notes, and get in touch.
  • To help other people find the show you can leave a review on iTunes, or Google Play Music, and tell your friends and co-workers
  • Join our community! Visit discourse.pythonpodcast.com for your opportunity to find out about upcoming guests, suggest questions, and propose show ideas.
  • Your hosts as usual are Tobias Macey and Chris Patti
  • Today we’re interviewing Annapoornima Koppad about her career with Python and her experiences running the PyLadies chapter in Bangalore, India and being a director for the Python Software Foundation.

Interview with Annapoornima Koppad

  • Introductions
  • How did you get introduced to Python? – Tobias
  • I noticed that you have been freelancing for several years now. How much of that has been in Python and how has that fed back into your other activities? – Tobias
  • While preparing for this interview I came across the book that you self-published on Amazon. What was your motivation for writing it and who is the target audience? – Tobias
  • Can you tell us about your experience with starting the PyLadies group in Bangalore? What were some of the biggest challenges that you encountered and how have you approached the task of growing awareness and membership of the group? – Tobias
  • You recently started teaching Python at the Indian Institute of Science. What kinds of subject matter do you cover in your lessons? – Tobias
  • What is it about Python and its community that has inspired you to dedicate so much of your time to contributing back to it? – Tobias
  • In what ways would you like to see the Python ecosystem improve? – Tobias
  • You were voted in as a director of the Python Software Foundation in the most recent election. Can you share what responsibilities that entails? – Tobias
  • What would you like to achieve with your time in the PSF? – Tobias

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The intro and outro music is from Requiem for a Fish The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA