Using their experience in Italy and abroad (e.g., at the DTU Technical University in Denmark) Andrea Vandin and Daniele Licari designed and launched a novel Python-based computing course for the Allievi of the Sant'Anna School.
'Introduction to Programming in Python' covers material from the fundamental principles of structured (object-oriented) programming to data processing functionalities like manipulation and visualisation of CSV data. In its Spring 2020 edition, notwithstanding the complications due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the course was received with enthusiams -- enrolling a large number of students from disciplines as diverse as as economics, medicine, political sciences, management, law, biotechnologies, agriculture, mechanical engineering, and eliciting the interest of postdoctoral fellows and faculty. Andrea and Daniele made a concerted effort to leverage a number of online teaching technologies and to build the course upon the principle of Active Learning -- with a focus on 'what the students do' rather than on 'what the lecturer does'.
Each session is structured in two parts. Part 1 introduces the topics of the week through coding examples. Slides and the coding examples are integrated into a single jupyter-lab notebook able to mix markup text with executable code snippets -- this document is distributed beforehand through a GitHub repository, allowing students to experiment live with the material. Part 2 is a hand-on session where students practice what they learned in Part 1, working on weekly assignments distributed in the Repl.it platform which automatically tests the students' solutions and provides real-time feedback on their level of learning.