Pair-programming-ish learning model and Code With Me Miami thoughts

First, this post is incredibly tardy, yet I am going to publish it anyway. This Lab-hosted event was just too cool! Two weekends ago, Feb 2-3, Knight Lab hosted a Code With Me workshop at the University of Miami's School of Communication.

This was the second of the two-day introductory web-making workshop for journalists offered by co-founders and Medill School alumns Tom Giratikanon and Sisi Wei. The first one was hosted by NPR in D.C. last August. In designing this little project of theirs, the co-founders placed a high premium and focus on the value of mentorship when learning programming, and this workshop is effective.

Taking their cues from the agile software development technique pair programming, in which two programmers work together at one workstation to promote knowledge-sharing, Code With Me developed a web-making basics workshop that pairs one mentor to two students. As a workshop specifically intended for journalists without coding experience, students learn HTML, CSS and Javascript by playing games, laughing, being entertained, and writing code. The co-founders want to not only teach the basics of code, but also give students necessary skills and confidence to keep going on their own as well as introduce them to a community of support.

While all of the presentations and exercises developed for this workshop are crafted with care and intention, the "paper code" exercise is one of particular brilliance. The students assemble 3"x5" cards with HTML and CSS on them into the proper order, in order to solidify the lessons from the prior day's instruction. What I love most about this exercise is that despite it being hard, the students work in teams and begin to solve the puzzle together, thus reinforcing one of the core lessons in this workshop: none of us learned how to make the web in a vacuum.

The Knight Lab was proud to sponsor this workshop, helping to bring training to a community of journalists in South Florida, an area that desperately needed the support. There are strong networks of training and support in regions like New York, Washington D.C. and Chicago, but they do not really exist in areas like Miami. We are so grateful to the University of Miami's School of Communication for lending us their classrooms and to all of the volunteer mentors who gave up their weekend. We hope to see more workshops planned in the future, for other communities like this one.

Latest Posts

  • A Google Spreadsheets change affecting TimelineJS users

    Google recently changed something about their Sheets service which is causing many people to run into an error when they are making a new timeline. Note: there should be no impact on existing timelines! After this change, many of you click on the "preview" and get this message: An unexpected error occurred trying to read your spreadsheet data [SyntaxError] Timeline configuration has no events. There is a straightforward work-around, but it requires those of you who have...

    Continue Reading

  • How Americans think and feel about gun violence

    A man killed his wife, then himself. I want you to see his face and learn that he enjoyed fishing with his grandchildren. A small-time drug dealer is shot by two men in a parking lot. I find his Facebook profile and a photo shows him striking a playfully irreverent pose, giving the camera the middle finger. The photo’s comments take a mournful turn after a certain date. “Rest easy bro ???” Gun Memorial runs...

    Continue Reading

  • Software developers interested in journalism: Northwestern and The Washington Post want you!

    Northwestern University and The Washington Post are offering a unique opportunity for two talented software developers interested in applying their programming skills in media and journalism. Here’s the proposition: (1) a full-tuition scholarship to earn a master’s degree in journalism at Northwestern University, followed by (2) a six-month paid internship with The Post’s world-class engineering team, with the possibility of subsequent full-time employment. These opportunities are made possible by the John S. and James L....

    Continue Reading

  • What happened when Gun Memorial let anyone contribute directly to victim profiles

    If you’re reporting local or niche news, there’s a good chance that your audience collectively knows more about the story than you do. That’s especially true for us at Gun Memorial, a small publication with a nationwide mission of covering every American who is shot dead. In our latest, mostly successful, experiment, we let readers add to our stories without editor intervention. This article shares some lessons from that experience. Asking for reader contributions A...

    Continue Reading

  • How conversational interfaces make the internet more accessible for everyone

    This story is part of a series on bringing the journalism we produce to as many people as possible, regardless of language, access to technology, or physical capability. Find the series introduction, as well as a list of published stories here. In 2004, human-computer interaction professor Alan Dix published the third edition of Human-Computer Interaction along with his colleagues, Janet Finley, Gregory Abowd, and Russell Beale. In a chapter called “The Interaction,” the authors wrote...

    Continue Reading

  • Three tools to help you make colorblind-friendly graphics

    This story is part of a series on bringing the journalism we produce to as many people as possible, regardless of language, access to technology, or physical capability. Find the series introduction, as well as a list of published stories here. I am one of the 8% of men of Northern European descent who suffers from red-green colorblindness. Specifically, I have a mild case of protanopia (also called protanomaly), which means that my eyes lack...

    Continue Reading

Storytelling Tools

We build easy-to-use tools that can help you tell better stories.

View More