Day 10. Distilling how to use Participatory Live Coding in-person and online - Tip 2

By Yanina Bellini Saibene in Education Community 100DaysToOffload 30Ship30

May 15, 2024

A group of adults in a room with a projector screen shating and a stand-up teacher.

Foto de Alex Litvin en Unsplash

When you do participatory live coding, you need to teach and program at a pace that allows learners to follow along and not get left behind. How can we accomplish that? 

Today’s Tip is: 

Go slowly, and don’t teach alone.

  • Start with a blank script or notebook to ensure you will explain everything they need for the code to work. Explain the goal of the code you will develop and write it down in the notebook or as a comment in the script to focus on it and the reasoning behind coding to achieve it.

  • Don’t copy and paste code: doing so virtually guarantees you will go much faster than your students, and they may get lost very quickly.

  • Narrate what you type, key combinations and keyboard shortcuts, especially when you have to use complicated punctuation marks (“brackets”, “parentheses”, etc.). When an IDE autocompletes things, it is helpful to point it out the first few times (and say how to use or activate that feature) as it may be the first time some students see it. 

  • Don’t use many keyboard shortcuts, especially at the beginning. If you use a keyboard shortcut, say it aloud the first time you do. Explain an alternative to the shortcut (for example, using menus). You can remember your students what shortcuts you are using from time to time (in case you don’t use a program that shows your screen presses).

  • Explain every step you made. Say out loud what you are doing while you do it for every command you type, every word of code you write, and every menu item or website button you click. Then, point to the command and its output on the screen and go through it again to allow students to check what they did. It is important they don’t miss key things while they are typing. 

  • Made sure the output can be seeing. If the output of your code makes what you just typed disappear from view, scroll back up so learners can see it again. If that is not possible, run the same code a second time or copy and paste the last command(s) into the shared workshop notes (or chat if you are online). Mention the line number of the code you are referring to.

The above tips apply to both in-person and online classes.

There are some extra considerations for online environments:

  • Students need time to switch screens: it is essential in online settings for people switch between windows (the teacher demonstration and their coding) or between screens if they have more than one.

  • Your helper should be watching the chat, helping troubleshoot and solve students' problems, copying links or pieces of code if needed, and letting you know when something needs to be clarified, re-explained, or shown one more time.

  • If you are teaching withput help, let students know when you will watch the chat to help them. Be clear about how they can participate and ask questions (using the chat, unmuting them, using a nonverbal expression, shared notes, etc.) and how you will answer.

  • Use a shared notes document to copy and paste students' code or errors. You can also use the chat, but be careful of treacherous chat systems that can mangle your code. Straight quotes can be transformed into typographical quotes, and character limits might chop off parts of the code, etc. 

This tip is very important to enable the participatory part of the live coding. In our next post we will see in detail two tips:  Mirror your learner’s environment and Avoid distractions.

Posted on:
May 15, 2024
3 minute read, 598 words
Education Community 100DaysToOffload 30Ship30
Education Community 100DaysToOffload 30Ship30
See Also:
Proyecto 2 - Las Estrellas del Universo R
Project 2 - The Stars of R-Universe
Project 1 - rOpenSci's Code of Conduct and Code of Conduct Committee