Interactive eBook from Runestone Interactive: A Python eBook with IDE and visualization built-in

Brad Miller and David Ran um have opened up their eBook for general use at their new site. This is the book whose use we have been studying for the last year as part of our CSLearning4U effort. It’s a great alternative to the Udacity/Courser model of distance education, to make a book more like a course, rather than capture the course in video. Our paper on this analysis just got rejected, so I’m not sure when and where we can tell the story of what happened, but I’m hoping that we can talk about it soon.

Its fun to see my sabbatical project getting loose the wild. It is always a bit scary to work on something creative and new and then let other people play with it and respond to it. Such is the case with the new eBook I worked on during my sabbatical. Unlike other eBooks that you may be aware of, this book — in the words of Emeril — “kicks it up a notch”. Using some cool open source java script code that I’ve had to modify and bend a bit for my own use this book allows the reader to try their hand at Python right in the book. Examples are fully runnable in two different ways. Each section has an accompanying video. My co-author, David Ranum and I are using this book in class this Fall and its fun to see how the students interact with the book.  We’ve had none of the usual Fall frustration at getting Python installed on students machines. You can have a look at the book here.

via Reputable Journal, How to Think Like a Computer Scientist – Interactive Edition.I try to be careful when talking about new, not-yet-published work here, because it annoys reviewers when they can easily discern the authorship of a “blind review” paper. In CS Ed, the identity of *any* work can be easily determined within five minutes of Googling/Binging — there are just too few people in the field. Still, reviewers downgrade our scores because I “broke faith” by talking about the work in my blog. Sigh. On a more positive note, we got three papers accepted to ICER 2012, so I do plan to talk about that work here soon.

Deepa Singh
Business Developer
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