[IPython-dev] using the notebook for teaching?

Matt jiffyclub at gmail.com
Wed Dec 5 20:05:15 EST 2012

Hi Emmanuelle,

You may find it useful to get in touch with Software Carpentry (http://software-carpentry.org). We've started using the IPython Notebook extensively in our scientific Python instruction and consider it more or less the best tool for the job:

You can send inquiries to info at software-carpentry.org, we've even got some members in France.


On Dec 5, 2012, at 5:24 PM, Emmanuelle Gouillart <emmanuelle.gouillart at nsup.org> wrote:

> 	Hello,
> 	from next year on in France, Python will be taught as the first
> programming language for scientific computing in an important fraction of
> French undergraduate schools (the scientific "preparatory classes" in the
> French educational system). I'm trying to set up a course on scientific
> Python for the future French professors that will teach Scientific
> Python, and I'm wondering whether I should promote the use of the Ipython
> notebook as the main educational tool for classes, or whether I should
> stick to more traditional tools.
> 	My main concern is about stability. As I see it, a professor
> could have a set of different notebook files corresponding to the
> different sessions, and encourage the students to do the same. However,
> when I have tried to open existing .ipynb files, I've run across an
> incompatibility between ipython 0.12 and notebooks in version 3 format
> (error message "Unreadable JSON notebook"). I have not tried whether
> backward compatibility works, ie whether ipython 0.13 can read version 2
> format. Is it planned that the notebook format will still change a lot or
> not? Indeed, I do not expect the undergraduate schools to update ipython
> very frequently, and it would be quite a problem if a professor cannot
> grade a student's notebook because it was written on a more recent
> Ipython... On the other hand, the notebook is really cool and has a lot
> of advantages for teaching, so I really have mixed feelings... Stability
> is paramount for earning the trust of professors, since a fraction of
> them is used to Matlab/Scilab and a bit wary of Python (they will have
> the choice between Scilab and Python, although Python is recommended by
> the French "official program"): I cannot afford to take too many risks.
> What do you think? Any insights on using the notebook for teaching are
> very welcome.
> 	Cheers,
> 	Emmanuelle
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