I’m Whitni Watkins, currently the Web Systems Engineer for Analog Devices. Welcome to this session.
A bit of background information. These workshops stemmed from doing a local Hour of Code Event I organized while I was working as the Systems Librarian at St. Lawrence University.
We did a one off workshop based on the Hour of Code national event and had a learn at your own pace selection of programs to work on, ranging from beginner to advanced intermediate knowledge level of coding.
We had 35 in attendance, which was surprising given that we had 10 days to plan and advertise for the workshop.
The main question at the end of the day by attendees was “this is awesome, but now what? How do I continue this? Where can I go for help? How is this applicable to me?”
This feedback is what told us that maybe this would be helpful to offer as more than just a one off workshop.
Before planning the workshops, we asked ourselves what problem does this solve? Is putting on these workshops going to solve it and most importantly, is it worth solving? This answer will be different for everyone in the room, and may not always be sufficient to go ahead with teaching the workshops however my answer to the why was:
As a self taught coder, not having this neutral ground to come learn without feeling like I was “asking dumb questions” made it a lonely road. There is also a major drive to teach coding, to encourage the youth to get involved in STEM related projects through movements like Hour of Code, but what about those who didn't get that encouragement but have an interest? Where can they go?
This was enough drive for us to move forward to teach coding workshops. Followed with the feedback from the Hour of Code event, we had enough feedback to hold our case for why we should do this and why it should happen in the library.
When you’re working to get the buy in, things to think about – Teaching the workshops has minimal risk on the library. You can teach 1 or more workshops, if you do one and it doesn’t Work, you don’t’ have to do another one.
We did a mix of BYOdevices and providing a few we checked out from our library. Doing BYODevice really allows for little to no out of pocket cost. If you don’t have laptops/tablets to check out but have a computer lab, look to book the courses in the computer lab.
Librari*s become a new resource and serve patrons in a new (and needed) fashion. When I asked CS students if they felt they could go to the library for help on their programming homework, they almost always, and emphatically, said No, I’d go to my professor, I didn’t think the librarians would be able to answer my questions.
If you need a reason on why or how this helps the library – holding the workshops in the library, brings greater awareness of the library and resources but These workshops can also feed over into providing reference on technology/coding/programming as such.
The library is a safe space and often viewed as a neutral ground for learning, hosting the workshops there was a great way to emphasize this safe space.
Tying workshops to national STEM and Education Technology events can always be tied into the library in a positive spin. For us, it encouraged outreach to student clubs and the computer science department faculty.
Building our team took the longest. We wanted to make sure we were getting the right input, the right expertise, the right energy, and a solid number of people to work together. Our team could have gone a myriad of ways, and overall, the people we coordinated with was a great and helpful mix.
Who do we need on our team? Why? -someone from the library, workshops will be hosted in the library and the library had a massive chunk of resources we needed. -someone from IT -groups that would have interest to help give input & promote the word -identifying those who have already faced the challenges of teaching technology to those new to it Student organizations (Quantitative Club (Math, Computer Science, and Statistics talks) and The Hub (St. Lawrence University Theme house focused on embracing technology)) -Include circulation – if you are going to check out items or if a student might come check out a laptop/tablet and location details if someone needs help navigating the library.
The topics we selected at to meet four criteria –
Teaching the app IFTTT to teach basic understanding of programming (If Then statements) used IFTTT intro tutorial & intro to what IFTTT is went through setting up the channels chose 6 channel connections that were easy to test and should the power of this tool provided 10min of Q/A and discussion. attendees walk away with a new tool & intro understanding of how programming works and how we use it in our daily lives to make things easier on ourselves, less work. Using Google Sites to teach basic HTML/CSS -- (Can use WordPress too!) attendees walk away with a tool to build their own website Editing wikipedia pages -- not exactly coding but focusing on not using the WSYWIG editor and using the wiki tags walk away with knowledge of how to edit wikipedia pages & a simple understanding of using wikis Raspberry Pi workshop (on Pi Day) --
When we decided to teach the workshops in the library, we chose to teach movable skills. Skills that could be used outside the library for real life things, like setting up a WordPress site and customizing the HTML or writing scripts that could move files from one folder to another or using apps like IFTTT to create recipes for automation for ones life.
This helped focus on what topics we were going to offer, when we thought of a topic we were interested in teaching, we had to ask our selves – can this be used in the real world or is it just something interesting?
Mapping everything on a marker board really helped give us the big picture of how and when we wanted to teach these workshops.
ProTip – take photos in case someone decides to clean the board. We learned the hard way.
Outreach was a major part in planning the workshops.
When we were brainstorming outreach for the workshops we thought of as many angles as possible to get people involved and bring awareness to the workshops.
With the Ada Lovelace workshop, we reached out to a few clubs that were focused on women in tech or women in history for volunteers and to ask for help spreading the word about that specific workshop and also volunteering to submit women to research and edit their Wikipedia pages.
Your outreach can change for every workshop, but I do recommend having a core set in place.
We did a lot of work with students with advertising outreach, learning where they looked for events so we knew where to post information.
We paired up with the CS dept and reference librarians in a Wikipedia edit-a-thon since both groups were already doing events around that day.
We worked with the CS faculty to help get insight on the topics and approaches we were taking in teaching them, but also to get word out to students & to encourage their volunteering to present or help teach one of the workshops.
Don’t reinvent the wheel every time. Use templates, style the workshops in similar fashions, same locations, same places for advertising (you can add to it but don’t change). Don’t be afraid to repeat topics especially if they were successful.
60minute workshop (IFTTT, follow up sessions from Hour of Code 2hr event in December) 5-10min Intro 30-40 minute of teaching & hands on work 5-10min Q/A discussion
90minute workshop (Google Sites, Wikipedia edit a thon) 5-10min Intro 60 minute workshop 10-15min Q/A discussion
2hr “Hour of Code Event” (end of each semester) 10min Intro Hour of Code -- focus on python programming, presentations from students/faculty, longer workshops focused on beg -- adv intermediate levels 30min of CS faculty selected student presentations 60min of hands on workshops - beginner - adv. Intermediate 3 levels of programming, taught in 30min workshops. (attendees could check out multiple workshops or attend an hour of one) -unplugged -mobile friendly 20min for Q/A and demos
Give attendees something to continue the development of their knowledge – this could mean providing access to free coding courses Be available for questions – the biggest thing to foster the engagement and the learning is to continue to be a lifeline for those who have questions.
Provide the option for one on one help in workshops, you want attendees to feel comfortable in asking questions and getting help. The goal of these workshops is to create that safe space to learn.
Schedule in time for Q&A after the coding portion, this Q&A should be informal but have a question or two to start the energy, for example –The aim is to open up the space for discussion and less question and answer. We learn best when we learn from each other.
Pair up with events that involve library resources
Have a Code of Conduct in place and available, iterate that code before starting the workshop.
Have a list of specified contacts for certain parts of the workshops.
Internal contact list for the team listing all parties involved and what parts. Contact list for attendees – if they want to get involved, have questions, etc.
One of the biggest challenges was Scheduling! WOW! when you want to schedule an event, it seems like it always conflicts with something else. This was a major challenge, not only determining the dates but also making sure the time of day was most accommodating to allow for more attendees. (examples)
Another challenge was: We had a team of 5, and we needed to delegate responsibilities better – we worked well together but there wasn’t anyone delegated to do certain tasks and where parts of the workshops were directly overseen by an assigned team member. It was more of an idea team and that put a lot of work on my plate.
There wasn’t a unified place for events so it was difficult to pinpoint an effective advertising strategy, we more or less tried to do them all.
Develop strong social media presence before first event (that includes follow up material) More community involvement (reaching out for more student involvement in helping out with the actual workshops) Feedback opportunities from both attendees and no-comp sci faculty. Set aside time during the week to plan & do outreach Developed a strong or formal team, that met frequently
[NOTE] put together a checklist on GitHub and share link Add links for hour of code resources & extra free courses where people can learn more outside of the workshop
Web Systems Engineer
Analog Devices, Inc.
What problem does this solve and Is it worth solving?
As a self taught coder, not having a neutral & welcoming
ground to come learn without feeling like I was “asking dumb
questions” made it a lonely & discouraging road for learning
how to code. Now there is also a major drive to teach coding,
to encourage the youth to get involved in STEM related
projects through movements like Hour of Code, but what
about those who, like me, didn't get that encouragement but
have an interest? Where can they go?
Minimal risk involved
Teach 1 or more workshops
BYODevice allows for little to no out of pocket
Greater awareness of the Librari*s and
Library as safe space
Tie workshops to national STEM events/dates
Ada Lovelace Day (mid October)
Computer Science Education Week (mid December)
Pi Day (March 14)
-Your team SHOULD include someone who is
familiar teaching code.
-Your team SHOULD include members of groups
who have interest in these types of workshops
-Your team SHOULD include library user (who’s
willing and interested) that is not library staff
-Your team SHOULD NOT be 100% librarians, but it
should have librarians
-Your team SHOULD NOT be 50/50 librarians & IT
but it should have both.
Map it out and give yourself a view of the big picture
STEM/CompSci Clubs on Campus (or
Computer Science dept. (local school
Community center for advertising
Local Public Library or Academic
Student workers, library staff, IT staff
Local news boards
Let others get involved.
Invite them even!
Always have at least 2 teachers to
provide one-on-one help
Have resources attendees can continue
Always schedule time for discussion
Shy away from Q/A formation
Pair up with events that involve Library
resources (helps with buy in)
Have a Code of Conduct in place
before first workshop
Advertising – no unified spot
Scheduling was difficult
Look at main event calendar
Know holidays & days off
Know academic schedule – when are
busy times in the semester
Develop strong social media presence before
More community involvement (reaching out
for more student involvement in helping out
with the actual workshops)
Feedback opportunities from both attendees
and no-comp sci faculty.
Set aside time during the week to plan & do
Developed a strong or formal team, that met
Hour of Code https://hourofcode.com/us/how-to
Code of Conduct example https://github.com/whitni/codeofconduct
Template & Ideas http://www.slideshare.net/nimblelibrarian/teaching-
Attendee Resources (free to use)
Twitter: @_Whitni | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org