Interview on “Teaching with Aisha” about designing a course

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Last week Aisha Blake hosted me for a conversation about computer science education, from designing an activity to a session to a course. Luckily, we got this recording, so you can watch it anytime!

Here’s that link to the recording again.

Additional notes on what we covered:

First, here is the “Designing a Course” blog series that Aisha referred to on the stream. I talk about choosing topics, building exercises, planning a session, and mapping a full course.

Now, this series is based on designing a self-contained course for CS grad students. So I think a few of the things we talked about on-stream would be different for professional education.

For example, my students have relatively little programming experience. I give them exercises (“conditioning work”) because they need that to build programming skills. Professional programmers have different needs. To reuse an analogy from the stream: beginner and intermediate athletes just need to accumulate volume under load, but advanced athletes can benefit much more from finer skills coaching.

So I use a lot of exercises, and I keep lecturing to a minimum. If you’re a developer relations person, you might get more out of presenting to your audience than I do to mine. They’re new to your tool, but they’re still professional programmers.

The same goes for live code demos. I basically don’t code live because, when students have little or zero sense for code, I can lose them completely with one typo. With a professional audience, that’s much less likely to happen. Sometimes a pro audience will even catch your bugs for you!

The final thing from the stream that I want to revisit is the strategy we discussed for dividing people into groups. Here is a blog post where I discuss what the caucus score is and how to calculate it. In this case, the post focuses on professionals in a work environment.

I have a different piece right here that explains how I apply a simplified version of the caucus score concept to student groups. That piece also shares some information about the outcomes I saw, from student satisfaction with group work to the actual work that came out of different groups.

I hope you enjoy the interview!

And if you’re into this, I’ve cast a few other pods in my day:

Techtivism, with Greater than Code (plus a few other topics 😉

CTO Connection, with Peter Bell (about giving and receiving feedback)

Conversations in Software Development, with Borja Sotomayor (also about feedback—a good one to listen to, I’d say, if you listened to the one with Peter Bell and want more)

Tech Jobs, Testing, and Blogging, with Fabian Temp

Leveling Up, Machine Learning, and Inclusion, on Todd Nief’s Podcast about Everything (seriously this podcast makes zero sense, but people still listen because Todd is awesome)

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