Workshop aims to make coding more inclusive

P5js Aquarium Simulation

Thursday August 12th a New Media teaching assistant and professor present Inclusive Techniques for Teaching Code to make programming more attractive to women, minorities, and others who have been underrepresented in the field. The presentation is part of the CS Summer of Fun organized by Project Login and’s CS Summer Institute for high school teachers in the US northeast.

Inclusive Techniques for Teaching Code
Katarina Hoeger and Jon Ippolito
Aug 12th, 2021 at 10 AM

P5js Tutorial ClustersLearning 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.

Creative 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.

ENIAC womenSharing 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.

The two speakers also presented on this topic at the 2021 Teaching Showcase organized by the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning. Katarina Hoeger is an Intermedia Graduate MFA student and NMD 105/211 Lab Instructor, while Jon Ippolito has worked with her as the instructor for NMD 105 (“Creative Coding I”).

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