Faculty, grad student share techniques for making coding easier for everyone

A New Media teaching assistant and professor team up to make programming more appealing to women, minorities, and other underrepresented groups in Inclusive Techniques for Teaching Code. This presentation for teachers in the US northeast is part of Project Login’s first-ever CS Summer of Fun in conjunction with the Code.org CS Summer Institute.

Inclusive Techniques for Teaching Code

Aug 12th, 2021 at 10 AM with Katarina Hoeger and Jon Ippolito

Learning to code is already a challenge for most beginners, but many students suffer from additional hurdles due to their gender, race, or class. Participants in this interactive workshop will practice novel techniques for breaking through those barriers, as tested in UMaine’s introductory programming course for the New Media major.

P5js Tutorial ClustersCreative coding using online platforms like P5js can help compensate for uneven access to hardware, and a focus on scripting designs, animations, and games teaches advanced computer science concepts while appealing to visual thinkers with an aversion to mathematics.

Women "computers" working on ENIACSharing the stereotype-busting history of women in programming—a field that emerged from a desire to weave beautiful textiles—can help defeat imposter syndrome. Seeing other qualities in student code beyond correctness can help, as can flipping the classroom with online tutorials and “exit tickets” that accommodate learners at different levels in the same classroom.

The workshop will acquaint participants with tools to encourage inclusion, such as UMaine’s Just-in-Time Learning badges, the P5js web editor, and Slack. A series of challenges will invite participants to question their own stereotypes about computer programmers and what makes for good code. No prior experience with programming is assumed.

Hoeger Ippolito Inclusive Coding HeadshotsThe two speakers, Intermedia Graduate MFA student Katarina Hoeger and New Media professor Jon Ippolito, also presented on this topic at the 2021 Teaching Showcase organized by the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning. The inclusive techniques they practiced in the introductory Creative Coding course (NMD 105) solicited student reviews that appreciated “taking a class that a lot of people dread and turning it into something fun and exciting while taking off the pressure to be perfect”:

I loved each assignment because they were fun and had so much room for creativity and to really make what you want. There was also a lot of attention put on the fact that everyone moves at a different pace with this topic which really put me at ease since I had never coded before.

Using p5js was super helpful especially coming from someone who has NEVER coded before. Having [the instructors] available on Slack was amazing and efficient.

I really enjoyed this class even with my higher level understanding of software development and I would highly recommend it.

Prospective New Media majors who want to learn more about this unusual way of learning to code can reach our faculty at the New Media contact page.