[IPython-dev] using the notebook for teaching?

Emmanuelle Gouillart emmanuelle.gouillart at nsup.org
Thu Dec 6 04:05:12 EST 2012

Hi Matt,

thank you for your answer. The article on software carpentry is very
interesting and I should definitely ask for more details on the Software
Carpentry mailing-list.

In fact, I have no doubt that I (as the instructor) can use the Ipython
Notebook in a pleasant and efficient way. The question is whether this is
the right tool for hundreds of maths and physics teachers, most of whom
are not very geeky (in France, teachers in the "preparatory classes"
undergraduate schools are not researchers, they do 100% of teaching). I
guess I have to take a bet on the evolution of the notebook ;-)... 


On Wed, Dec 05, 2012 at 08:05:15PM -0500, Matt wrote:
>    Hi Emmanuelle,
>    You may find it useful to get in touch with Software Carpentry
>    ([1]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:
>    [2]http://software-carpentry.org/2012/10/transitioning-to-the-ipython-notebook/.
>    You can send inquiries to [3]info at software-carpentry.org, we've even got
>    some members in France.
>    Best,
>    Matt
>    On Dec 5, 2012, at 5:24 PM, Emmanuelle Gouillart
>    <[4]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
>      _______________________________________________
>      IPython-dev mailing list
>      [5]IPython-dev at scipy.org
>      http://mail.scipy.org/mailman/listinfo/ipython-dev

> References

>    Visible links
>    1. http://software-carpentry.org/
>    2. http://software-carpentry.org/2012/10/transitioning-to-the-ipython-notebook/
>    3. mailto:info at software-carpentry.org
>    4. mailto:emmanuelle.gouillart at nsup.org
>    5. mailto:IPython-dev at scipy.org

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