We will discuss goals, ideas, technical tools and outcomes for the open, online, interactive course on "Computational Thinking with Julia" that we have been teaching for the last two semesters. The Pluto notebook has allowed us to develop a new approach to write both an online interactive textbook and interactive problem sets with built-in solution checks.
During the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters we have been teaching an online, open, interactive course on Computational Thinking using Julia and the Pluto notebook.
Previously we had used the Jupyter notebook, but we decided to take the plunge with the then-brand-new Pluto notebook in the summer of 2020, when it was still in its early days. It has turned out to be an excellent -- although at times frustrating! -- decision.
Pluto has allowed us to develop a completely new approach to writing both an interactive online textbook, as well as interactive problem sets with beautiful built-in solution checks that make working on problems both more fun and more rewarding.
Indeed, the capabilities of the Pluto notebook itself have developed together with the course, as we have collaborated on the required tools and ideas. Many recent features in Pluto have been added with this style of teaching in mind, and we hope to inspire more teachers to write interactive material.
Half-way through the second semester, each video lecture consistently receives over 2,000 views, and the course website receives 6,000 hits per month. The interactive and self-checking nature of Pluto homeworks is especially useful in an open course, where students have to work on the material independently.
We will discuss ideas and goals for teaching Julia, computational thinking, concepts from computer and applied mathematics mixed together, and how the technical features of Pluto enable and enhance one another.
Course homepage with online interactive textbook: https://computationalthinking.mit.edu/Spring21/