How To Teach Programming To People In Prison

How To Teach Programming To People In Prison

Using unplugged strategies to teach data science without a computer. How can we teach data science and programming to people in prison without computers (or internet)?

How can we teach data science and programming without computers? It may sound backwards today, but it turns out we’ve been doing something like this for many decades. Only recently have we forgotten just how possible, and even advantageous, it can be to separate the computer from computer science.

How can we teach data science and programming to people in prison without computers (or internet)? That is a much more complicated question, and answering it goes far into uncharted territory

Examples of the free printed educational guides that Level sends into prisons. We’re embarking on a journey to create guides that teach data science and programming in R for people in prisons who don’t have access to computers. (Image by author)

At Level, we create and distribute high quality, free, Creative Commons licensed educational and job training content to incarcerated men and women at mass scale.

Over the next year, we’ll begin distributing our first programming guides written for incarcerated learners who have no access to computers or the internet. The never-been-done-before aspect of this project led us to look to the past to discover how researchers and programmers have approached these issues before.

We’re starting with lessons in data science, data visualization and the R programming language. We chose this starting point because it can be more physical and tangible. Data science and data visualization can adapt to different environments better than web development or app design. Individual learners can personalize the data that is collected and analyzed. “Data is everywhere” is true even in prisons.

programming education creative-commons prison data-science data analysis

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