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  • Writer's pictureCarter Darper

Summer teaching blog 2 - Michael Madaio

Updated: Dec 23, 2018

t’s hard to believe that it’s already July, and the first month of trainings is completed!

In that time, our Beginner’s Approach to Computer Programming (Python) course and our Digital Video Production course both came to an end. We held a course showcase last Friday night (June 27th) for both of those courses, to award the completion certificates to the students, and to show off all of the great work they did to members of the community.

We had several students from the Python Programming course show off their completed songs they wrote with the EarSketch software. It was really cool to see my students presenting their work to an audience and explaining the programming concepts that went into the music they wrote. Plus, all of their music was great, and the audience was almost out of their seats dancing!

We also had many students in our Digital Video Production course show off their final videos, which were small local news packages, reporting on issues that they felt were important to them in Monrovia. Citizen journalism is a powerful tool for empowering local citizens to speak out and raise awareness for issues that individuals feel are urgent and important, not just issues that get covered by the radio or television news programs or newspapers. Our students, having gone through the course, are now able to film, edit, and write scripts reporting on issues of importance to them. We want to recognize and thank the Accountability Lab for attending and offering some great feedback, and we encourage people to check out the film festival they will be having, and the film courses for social accountability that they offer as well.

Stay tuned, and we will be posting our students’ songs and news videos on our iLab Liberia site, so keep an eye out for those!

In addition to our course showcase, I gave a guest lecture last week on Coding as a Creative Practice, in which I talked about the ways to develop effective problem-solving techniques for programming through learning to code creatively. There are many different platforms for using code to participate in creative practices, some of which we are using here at the iLab, such as using music to learn to program Python, as in EarSketch, and using graphic visualization to learn the Java programming language, as in Processing, a class we are offering in July, beginning this week. The turnout was incredible, with more than 50 people packed in tight, on a rainy night, too! Thanks so much to everyone who came out, and I hope to see you all at the next Lecture night, on Wednesday, July 16th.

Looking ahead, we are in the middle of a Physical Computing course, which uses the Arduino microprocessor to teach about hardware circuits and the software programs that control them. So far, we’ve learned how to control the voltage across the circuit using buttons, potentiometers (or, small dials), and light sensors, and displayed that in the form of LED’s turning on or off, or brighter or darker. Next week, in our final week of that course, the students will be making projects to solve problems they have in their home, or to make things easier or comfortable for them. The end result isn’t the goal, but the process of conceptualizing how to solve a particular problem using hardware and software input and output controls is important, and will translate to other forms of repair, hacking, and problem-solving.

If you’re interested, join us on Wednesday, July 16th, for a lecture I’m giving on Hacking, Tinkering, and the Maker Movement, which will be followed by demonstrations and explanations of the students’ projects. Hope you can join us! See the Events page for more information.

Finally, the last 2 courses that I’m teaching here have begun: an Intermediate Programming class, using the Processing software to teach the Java language, which should be a lot of fun, and a Beginner Programming for Women course, using EarSketch to write music, using the Python programming language. I’m excited to work with the students, and we will be having a final course showcase to show off both of their work on Friday, July 25th. Feel free to follow along on the individual course pages, under the Resource tab of the iLab site, though it’s of course not a complete substitute for being in the course.

That’s it for now! Thanks for reading!

Michael Madaio

Georgia Institute of Technology


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