Education Presentation

Pycon AU: Making Python More Fun for Everyone

Screen shot from Spy Who Coded game
Screen shot from Spy Who Coded game

Interesting talk from the creators of SingPath – games to help people learn to code. Left me wanting to try the game! Some insights about women and what they find off-putting – nothing unexpected. Notes below:

Intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation: autonomy, mastery, purpose (Dan Pink’s book – Amazon).

Want to extrinsically motivate people without killing intrinsic motivation. This is really hard. Decided to focus on extrinsic.

Quests: “The Spy Who Coded Javascript” – it’s a first person coder.

Games are hard fun. They:

  • Have clear goals.
  • Require concentration.
  • Give immediate feedback.
  • Deep, effortless involvement.
  • Uncertain outcome.


Hard to find balance – some people find it too easy, others too hard. Answer: adaptive difficulty (difficulty changes, depending on how you’re doing).

A setting easier than easy – drag and drop. This is not intimidating. Also allows for tablet based – an iPad app.

Individual learner – try to maximise classroom efficiency.

Tournaments – everyone in the room is solving the same thing, at the same time.

Idea: “Tournament based teaching”. First 5 minutes are close-book, after that open book. Peer based learning – first 10 finish, then go and help people who haven’t finished. There will always be some students who are very fast – these students then get to explain/mentor.

First pro tournament at Pycon APAC.

Collaborative learning – fun round, then prize round. No qualitative judging, the most efficient coding wins.

Team-based tournaments.

Pair-programming tournaments.

Contemplating: mixed doubles (one female, one male on the team) – encourage peer-based learning, diversity.

How do you balance carrot/stick with things that people are intrinsically motivated for?

Women less likely to participate in the competitive rounds – the fun round, yes, prize round no.