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Oct. 7th, 2005 | 11:02 pm
mood: accomplishedaccomplished

One of my coworkers managed to set up a class to teach a group of biologists how to program in python. I and a computationally skilled grad student offered to help. We started trying to following The Software Carpentry course being taught by Greg Wilson. Unfortunately for us, Greg's students already knew what a for loop was, while about half to two-thirds of ours had never opened a shell before.

Needless to say Greg's class was too fast for them.

But we are stubborn, and have been making progress. What we've learned so far is that the only way to learn to program is to do it. So we've been giving them super simple problems and helping them through.

I think most of them can now load and modify a file.

I was surprised at how hard it is to get accross the concept of what a "file object" is.

Also it's looking like I"m going to need to write a couple of lectures. (I've been doing most of the standing in front of the study group and lecture and at least my fair share of the one on one helping.)

It appears that I'm reasonably good at explaining things, though of course discovering that one needs to teach at least a fragment of a course by accident was a bit tough.
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