Launching our Teacher Ebook for learning Python and CS Principles
Back in September 2011, I announced that we received NSF funding to try to “beat the book.” (See post here.) Could we create an electronic (Web-based) book that was better for CS teacher learning than reading a physical book? Took us three years, but I’m confident that the answer is now, “Yes.”
Our ebook is hosted by Brad Miller’s Runestone tools and site. We use worked examples (as mentioned here) interleaved with practice, as Trafton and Reiser recommend. We have coding in the book as well as Philip Guo’s visualizations. There are audio tours to provide multi-modality code explanations (see modality effect), and Parson’s problems to provide low cognitive load practice (see mention here). We support book clubs that set their own schedule, in order to create social pressure to complete, but at a scale that makes sense for teachers.
2011 was a long time ago. That original post didn’t even mention MOOCs. We ran two studies in the Fall, one on learning with novices and one on usability (which involved several of you — thank you for responding to my call for participants!). I’m not going to say anything about those results here, pending review and publication. We have updated the book based on the results of those studies. I don’t know if we beat the MOOC. We’re running at about a 50% completion rate, but we’ll only really know when we go to scale.
I am pleased to announce the book is ready for release!
Please send this url to any teacher you think might want to learn about teaching CS (especially for the AP CS Principles — see learning objectives here) in Python: http://ebooks.cc.gatech.edu/TeachCSP-Python/ Thanks!
Our next steps are to develop a student ebook. By Fall, we hope to have a teacher and a student CSP ebook, which may make for an additional incentive for teachers to complete.