Monthly Archives: March 2013

Thinking about teaching web development to humanists

Now that my first course on computer tools for linguists is on its way (I already have almost half of the lessons designed), it is time to think about the next one. The CulturePlex laboratory is, so far, a multidisciplinary environment where people have backgrounds from different fields, mixing up Computer Sciences-like disciplines with Humanities-like disciplines. However, because the rise of computers in every aspect of our life’s, programming literacy is increasingly becoming a demanded skill. Such was the case that how-to-code courses are now a must for researchers across Academia. In the field of Humanities, people are using computer tools to formulate new questions as well as to solve the new and the old ones . This new trend is usually called and marketed as Digital Humanities, but the term is now under discussion in such limits that some people even consider the discussion itself as Digital Humanities. But more than that, it is really about the crystallization of the needs of both current and future researchers. Therefore, our goal is to stop being just multidisciplinary, and start being a poly-disciplinary laboratory.

And in order to fulfill this gap, my second course is addressing the needs of digital humanists by creating an intensive intersession course. This course will cover all the aspects of web development, from scratch and zero knowledge of programming, to pretty complex web sites with some logic and even persistence in relational databases. The name, Web Development From Scratch for Humanists, says it all. After finishing this course, students will be able to take an arbitrary data set from their investigations, and build a query-able website to show the data to the world.

And to so, a preliminary outline for this course is shown below:

Week 1

Day 1: Introduction to Computers and Architecture
Day 2: Programming Languages and Python. Conditionals, Loops, and Functions
Day 3: Data Types. Recursion
Day 4: Libraries and Oriented Programming

Week 2

Day 1: Internet and the Web
Day 2: Frameworks. Introduction to Django
Day 3: Views and Templates
Day 4: HTML Fundamentals

Week 3

Day 1: CSS
Day 2: Introduction to Javascript
Day 3: jQuery and AJAX
Day 4: Bootstrap and D3.js

Week 4

Day 1: Introduction to Relational Databases
Day 2: Schemas and Models
Day 3: Decorators and User Authentication
Day 4: Migrations

Week 5

Day 1: REST Interfaces
Day 2: Agile Integration
Day 3: Git and Control Version Systems
Day 4: Test Driven Development

And also, as an experiment, we probably will be running this course in the lab, just to see if it is too ambitious and simply unrealistic, or on the contrary, something that we can achieve with a lot of effort. Time will say it.

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