Written by Veronika Skotting and Rachel Douglas-Jones
Since 2015, ETHOS Lab has run an egalitarian study group to explore the possibilities of using the programming language Python.
Since we – and many of our members – use experimental digital methods for analyzing social media data, we set up the study group to support students and staff. In organising the space, we take the notion of a study group to heart: ETHOS Lab facilitates a space where those attending the study group support each other to learn Python, and does its best to provide volunteers who are knowledgeable. The uptake every year has been strong, in large part because of the way the group is run. We create a structured learning environment full of mutual help on the path to understanding what Python is, and what it can do.
After last semester’s fully online digital version, the study group team have done an amazing job in supporting Python Study Group (PSG) in this Autumn 2020 hybrid semester, and this blog post details how they’ve gone about it.
From new restrictions on numbers of people in a room, to additional limits on gathering, it was a logistical challenge to ensure we had enough space to meet safely, and an organizational challenge to understand which of the new restrictions would apply to Python. We had to keep a count on the numbers in the room at all times.
With a limit on 51 people for the first session, we were keeping an eye on the door, counting people coming and out. Nobody used the overflow room, but some joined on Discord. It was difficult to balance support for people in the room and people online. Digital Pizza Night was invented. As the second week kicked off, we made masks mandatory.
Snacks are an important part of any community, especially a coding one. Instead of leaving snacks and candy on the tables, this year a masked Veronika drove a Harry Potter style trolley around, meeting lots of participants along the way.
This year’s volunteers, Rasmus, Miguel and Karl have been amazing. Working with Marie we had to adjust each week with new restrictions, information from FM, and changing government guidelines, we made a really strong team and had a great time.
A huge thank you to Veronika, Rasmus, Miguel and Karl for coordinating this semester’s Study Group, both online and offline. You’ve managed not only to keep the study group going but maintain a sense of community and enjoyment. With participation from students across ITU, Python Study Group is one of the biggest ways we support nontraditional forms of learning and collaboration at the University, so thank you again.