Teaching a new Web Development for Media class at Georgetown this summer

I’m very excited to be teaching a new course at Georgetown University this summer called Web Development for Media, which begins tonight in Clarendon. The class includes 10 journalism and five public relations graduate students in the School of Continuing Studies.

The course assumes no prior knowledge of code or web development and will be akin to a practical survey class — intended to guide students through understanding and using some key tools. With fundamental understanding and hands-on practice, they’ll be able to dive deeper and teach themselves more after the 12 weeks. Here’s the official description:

Merely using the web and digital tools is no longer enough for today’s media professionals. Journalists and communicators alike need to have a strong foundational and practical understanding of how websites and applications are built and how to troubleshoot when problems arise. This class does not aim to make you hard-core coders or require any web development experience, but we do want you to come away with some coding skills. You’ll also be able to more effectively collaborate with web developers and continue learning on your own.

Students will learn about the various phases of web development and the fundamental technologies used to code and design web pages by diving into HTML and CSS, plus some basic JavaScript, jQuery and PHP. Students set up their own self-hosted website using WordPress. Readings, guest speakers and hands-on learning activities and assignments will be the basis for instruction.

Follow along on the course site, check out the syllabus and let me know in the comments below what you think.

Updates from Poynter programming for journalists/journalism for programmers seminar

I’ll be gathering tweets and posting updates from the Poynter programming for journalists/journalism for programming seminar (see previous post) in this CoverItLive blog.

Returning to Poynter: I’ll be attending the programming for journalists seminar

Poynter courtyard
iPhone photo from my May visit to speak to the 2010 summer college fellows.

Next week — Aug. 25-27, to be exact — I’ll return to my native Florida for a great opportunity at the Poynter Institute: a seminar that aims to teach journalists about programming and programmers about journalism. From the description:

Journalists will learn the programmer’s mindset, and programmers will learn how to see the world through a journalist’s eyes. Programmers will teach journalists how to turn data into usable information — and share great examples of efforts that worked.

The seminar also covers computational thinking, something I’ve written about previously. Needless to say, I can’t wait to discuss with other 15 or so attendees and instructors.

From the seminar page (with some links changed), the instructors include:

  • Regina McCombs, Visual Journalism Faculty, Poynter
  • Aron Pilhofer, Editor, Interactive News Technologies at The New York Times
  • Matt Waite, Senior News Technologist, St. Petersburg Times/tampabay.com and PolitiFact
  • Jeremy Bowers, News Technologist, St. Petersburg Times/tampabay.com
  • David Stanton, Technology Fellow, Poynter
  • Steve Myers, Managing Editor, Poynter Online

I know/have met in-person all of them — except Jeremy, who I look forward to meeting for the first time — and know that this will be an awesome seminar. Also, thanks to a handy Twitter search for “Poynter seminar,” I’ve seen a few tweets from others will who be attending. I look forward to meeting all of them soon.

Finally, a big thanks to Poynter for awarding me a partial scholarship for the seminar, made possible by the Ford Foundation. And thanks to Regina, Steve and Dave for answering my questions about the seminar.

UPDATE: The hashtag will be #journprog.

STEM for kids, teens and me. And my sister.


…programming should be used as a means to introduce kids to ways of thinking and problem solving that will be useful to them in many different spheres of human endeavor. If in the process they get hooked to computer science and end up in careers involving programming, that would not be a very shabby outcome, either!

Shuchi Grover said this in a post about Computational Thinking, Programming…and the Google App Inventor on SmartBean (read other highlights).

I sat down Sunday morning to read that piece (which I found through my handy Google alert for “computational thinking”) and it reminded me of something I’d almost completely forgotten about:

In summer 2000 — before eighth grade — I attended IMACS (no relation to Apple) for a few weeks. IMACS, short for the Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science, offered STEM-related activities in a day-camp format for different age groups.

My faint memories from IMACS include programming some rudimentary commands to control a robot, working with simple electronic circuitry to illuminate small light bulbs and completing various logic/reasoning questions.

So why did I, as 13-year-old who was mainly interested in writing, do this? Honestly, I don’t remember exactly beyond these two basic reasons:

  • My good friend Chris was going to attend
  • I’d had some technical inclinations since elementary school

You see, Chris and I had been aftercare aids at Country Isles. Yes, we sometimes clutched clipboards and walkie-talkies as we deposited toys in classrooms. But we also assisted with tech and AV — even Winterfest in 1997 (I will never forget what it’s like to be a 10-year-old running cables and duct-taping down wires for a school-wide singing show. Oh, and what ever happened to MiniDiscs?).

Earlier in elementary school when people would ask me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I would say, “A scientist and inventor.” Surely, even a few years after such a notion, that too factored into my decision to attend IMACS.

My larger point in recapping all this history is that earlier interests, such as from childhood, can stick with us as we grow up and it’s never too late to start appreciating other areas.

Honestly, math was my least favorite subject in high school. I used to think journalists and math didn’t mix. I was young(er) and wrong. In the year or so since I graduated college, I wish I had done at least one stats class (in addition to psychology, but that’s for another post).

So why am I now fascinated by computational thinking and programming? My passion for journalism and how the fields relate, sure. But it’s also clear that my earlier interest and experiences, even one as limited as IMACS, play some role. (I also always have to credit Daniel Bachhuber specifically on the computational thinking front because he shared the first things I read/listened to on that topic.)

All of this is not to say you can’t develop a tech inclination later in life. You certainly can. What I am saying is how it’s helpful to evaluate what and who might have influenced you — and what comes of that.

Case in point, yesterday I talked my sister through setting up a blog on WordPress.com. I didn’t succeed earlier in the summer in getting her to host her own cooking blog, but in June she did buy her domain. What changed yesterday? I don’t know. We were just video IM chatting and it happened. Michelle, a rising college sophomore interested in finance and business (she digs math), is now set up to be a creatornot just a consumer.

Even if she never sets up her own hosted blog, never touches a line of code or never goes any further, it has — thus far — certainly been worth my brotherly nudging. And, to borrow from Grover, it wouldn’t be too shabby if she did.

What were some of your most noteworthy technical influences? Where did those influences lead?

Correction: The opening quote, originally attributed to Charles Profitt, has been updated to reflect the actual source — Shuchi Grover.

Hacks/Hackers: How should we structure an online curriculum for journalists and technologists to learn together?

Howdy, I’m sharing this link/excerpt as I test the “Press This” WordPress tool, which I might start using to share interesting things a la Tumblr. On that note, check out my Tumblr, Greg Linch’s Commonplace Book. Also, check out my answer to the question below.

Hacks/Hackers, Mozilla, the Medill School of Journalism, The Media Consortium, and others are teaming up to develop a solid six-week online curriculum that will benefit both “hacks” and hackers.

To make this work, we need feedback from both journalists and programmers on the questions:

  • What topics should be covered?
  • Would you be interested in helping to teach a topic?

via Hacks/Hackers and Mozilla want to know: How should we structure an online curriculum for journalists and technologists to learn together? – help.hackshackers.com.